It’s been three weeks since the Oscar nominations and the resurgence of #OscarsSoWhite. After a few weeks, a hot hashtag is usually spiraling into a final, painful death rattle, starved for the last drops of relevance as the Internet turns to the #NextBigThing. But not this time, and for good reason. Every day brings fresh headlines – and everyone and their mom has had something to say about it.
Few (sane people) are denying that there’s a big, white, male elephant in the room – he’s been there for a long time – but few have also offered a tangible solution to the problem. Hashtags are great for awareness, but what about action?
Sure, Cheryl Boone Isaac (President of the Academy of Motion Pictures), has rolled out her A2020 initiative. It’s basically a plan to make Hollywood more diverse. She has good intentions, but let’s be honest, the execution will likely be met with harrumphs, followed by less effective compromises in order to move it forward. I’m just saying, nothing whips old white men into a frenzied state like the possibility of losing control and influence.
While Hollywood talks in circles and hopes we’ll lose interest before anyone is forced to do something, The Bitch Pack has been working on a solution. In fact, they’ve been doing it for the past three years.
Headed by Thuc Nguyen, (a fearless trailblazer in her own right), this collective of writers focuses on vetting and selecting scripts for The Bitch List, a list of the top unproduced screenplays that pass the Bechdel Test and, in many instances, the new DuVernay Test as well. If you’re not familiar with either, let me help you out.
To pass the Bechdel test, a screenplay has to feature at least one conversation between female characters about something other than one or more male characters. Surprisingly, only about half of all films being made meet this requirement.
The DuVernay Test, (named after director Ava DuVernay) requires African American and other minority characters to have fully realized narratives rather than serve as scenery in white stories. Also known as, you know, real life.
Take Warren, for example. Written by a black woman, the hour-long drama is a modern take on George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession. There’s also Texas City: The Darkest Day, a true story about a disastrous explosion in a coastal town. Based on real people, the lead roles are racially diverse and inclusive of both genders. That’s just a preview – there are 16 other stories that could shake up Hollywood’s monochromatic storytelling.
If we don’t want to continue to have #OscarsSoWhite, we have to look at the root of the problem, and not just the symptoms. Diversity starts on the page and affects the rest of the filmmaking process. If Hollywood is serious about changing its ways, then The Bitch Pack has already done the legwork and wrapped up the future with a neat little bow.
In case we needed another reminder that bitches get stuff done.