Gee golly, I’ve loved Frances McDormand since I first watched Fargo, which, to be honest, wasn’t when Fargo actually came out in theaters, but nonetheless, the fandom is real. She’s brilliant and cracks her roles open like a coconut on a diving board.
Last night at the Oscar Awards, it was so exciting to see this career-long underdog win one of the night’s top awards for a movie that’s so sadly, perfectly aligned with the cultural revolutions happening in Hollywood and beyond.
After Frances’ acceptance speech, everyone was talking about her closing statement that encouraged the industry to start using inclusion riders. (Mostly because none of us plebs knew what this term meant. “Did she say writers or riders? Rye doors?”)
But I think another part of her speech was even more powerful than the inclusion rider (yes, it was inclusion rider) thing.
Here’s what she said after having all the female nominees in the audience stand up:
“Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.
Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight.
Invite us into your office in a couple days, or you can come to ours.
Whatever suits you best.
And we’ll tell you all about them.”
This is brilliant because this directive wasn’t about just having females or other minorities on set, which is what the inclusion rider could accomplish, it was about making the set theirs. It was about recognizing these women as the skilled and professional artists they are.
This wasn’t a request to hire them for a role or write more scripts with female characters that have depth and Bechdel test street cred.
It was about working with them to make THEIR work, and a call to action to do it in a professional setting. Not at a party, but at an office. THEIR office. Show them you take them seriously. (I love that she says the meeting can happen in either person’s office… We don’t need you to kiss our pink pinky rings. Just show us you take us seriously, kapeesh?)
Furthermore, Frances doesn’t take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make some grandiose statement we could all quote and viral-meme five hours later. There’s no #Frances2020 posts (and follow-up outrage to the outrage that ensued).
No, something like that would be too self-serving for Frances. She got to the brass tacks: Artist projects need financed. Consider these artists; these professionals who are your equals. They’re obviously at the top of their game and they want more than to not be victims of Weinstein et al. They want to make their art and helping them do that by teaming up with them is a way you can help.
I think hashtags, social media campaigns and Oprah inspiration vids have their place, but it was really refreshing to hear such a simple, tangible and practical solution in a time when all the lines are finally being redrawn but everything is a little squishy in the meantime.
Even the Hollywood Times Up defense fund, which is great, is about taking action in the future, you know? This was a can-do-tomorrow-when-the-bubbly’s-worn-off action item.
And I think there are men in power who genuinely want to help, who are woke or waking and trying to listen, trying to make space for more voices when they’re the cream that should rise to the top. This brief how-to offers those men more than a pin to wear and a Tweet to make. And I am hungry to see more of that from all aspects of this popular modern feminist movement. Action that actually makes a difference NOW.
Frances McDormand just moved how we approach the conversation we’re having about equal opportunity forward.
Let’s follow her lead.