The 85th Academy Awards made a classy change to their program: Film students, rather than models, were chosen to present the Oscar trophies on stage.
The AP reported the inspiration behind the change:
“This tradition of the buxom babe that comes out and brings the trophy to the presenter to give to the winner seemed to be very antiquated and kind of sexist, too,” said Neil Meron, co-producer of this year’s Academy Awards. “They’re just there to be objectified. Why can’t we have people who actually care about film and are the future of film be the trophy presenters?”
So he and co-producer Craig Zadan developed a contest directed at college students that asked: How will you contribute to the future of film? More than 1,100 students submitted essays and videos, and six were chosen to appear on the Oscar telecast.
Antiquated sexism aside, the more important effect lent to the Oscars is one of substance. For an industry often criticized for shallowness and pandering to the lowest common denominator—this is not the image of every film, of course—this decision could not have come at a better time. Models have no tie to movies. Film students are the future practitioners of the craft and realistic contributors to the canon.
This choice is also an extension film’s apprenticeship system. You don’t need a college degree or a license to work in Hollywood. You learn on the job under the tutelage of more seasoned practitioners. Want to work on sets? Begin as a production assistant. Want to work at an agency or production company? Start in the mailroom.
The Oscars have now reinforced that relationship with aspiring filmmakers, not by asking, “Why do you like movies?” but rather, “How will you contribute to the future of film?”
The reason we tell stories on screen (or work in any business for that matter) should be that we want to add value to our field and to our audiences. We want to leave the world a better place than we found it. This motivation is sometimes easy to forget when you’re focusing on the microcosm of your current script or production. Try not to neglect the bigger picture of why we got into this work in the first place.
We all love movies. We all want to make great films. So I want to thank the Academy for reminding us that there is something greater we should be striving toward. Personally, this is my answer:
I want to craft stories that both inspire and entertain, to promote the power of the individual, to issue the comforting challenge that hope can prevail with effort, and to serve as a resource and instructor to others.
How will you contribute?