A Vine has been making the rounds over the past few days, as people involved in making The Revenant refuse to clap Jenny Beavan as she receives her first Oscar for her brilliant costumes on Mad Max: Fury Road. Here’s a still of the moment in question:
I’m going to be tackling this issue from two different angles: why it doesn’t matter if a costume designer wears a leather jacket to an awards ceremony, and also why Fury Road deserved those awards. This article was inspired by this hilarious list of uncomfirmed conspiracy theories as to why they didn’t clap at The Guardian.
Some people may deem that Beavan was not wearing the appropriate attire for an awards ceremony as prestigious as the Oscars. Chris Rock did a great job at hosting, and pointed out that the reason no one asks male attendees what they’re wearing to the ceremony is because they all wear the same thing. Go Jenny Beavan for not conform to other people’s standards of beauty. Also she has an Oscar now, so she probably doesn’t care, which is even better. I think that half of the problem with this is that people conflate costume design with fashion design. I have a friend who studied costume design at university, so I asked her about this particular phenomenon. Here’s our Facebook chat:
I mean, it’s one thing if you’re Sandy Powell, who was nominated for her work on both Cinderella and Carol (and mistaken for Tilda Swinton on the red carpet). Those costumes are more in line with what you’d expect a woman to wear an event like the Oscars. Jenny Beavan designed the costumes for Mad Max: Fury Road. If Sandy Powell wore Cindarella costumes, no one would bat an eye. If Jenny Beavan wore a costume from Fury Road, people would wonder why she was wearing it.
I don’t know whether it’s more charitable to assume that these people didn’t clap because Beavan didn’t adhere to Hollywood’s standards of femininity or because they worked on The Revenant, which they thought was far superior to the ‘action blockbuster’ that is Mad Max: Fury Road. All I know is that the people who worked on Fury Road absolutely deserved those awards. Alejandro G. Inarritu knows how to shoot a film, so I don’t begrudge him any of his awards for The Revenant. However Fury Road deserves all those awards. It won six! It got the most awards for the night (afternoon Australian time), and I was thrilled.
The technical awards are my favourite part of the Oscars, because for me and my twitter feed, the awards seem to go to the people who most deserve them. I was thrilled for the Mad Max team and the visual effects team for Ex Machina. They’re both science fiction films; one about the search for water in a post-apocalyptic desert, the other about artificial intelligence. They won the technical awards because they were detail oriented. Writing is important, but when your story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, you need to make the audience believe it. The costumes, makeup, cars and costumes were all designed to a specific aesthetic.
jI can’t say for certain if Mad Max: Fury Road is better than The Revenant, because I haven’t seen the latter film. What I do know is that The Revenant was nominated for all of the awards that Fury Road won. Yes, it sucks that your film didn’t win the award, but I’m fairly sure the bear was CG, so that part of the production wasn’t eligible for the award. The least you can do is clap for the winner. Nearly a billion people are watching what you do, this thing is broadcast worldwide. I didn’t like Birdman, but I was willing to sit through The Revenant for Leo. Instead I’m going over to Stan and adding Mad Max: Fury Road to my list so I can watch whenever I want. If you can’t pretend to be happy for a woman who was given a prestigious award for being a leader in her field, either because of jealousy or because she doesn’t conform to your standards of femininity, I don’t want to watch your film.
- Public Service Announcement: Mad Max: Fury Road is now available for your viewing pleasure on Stan. Do yourself a favour and (re)watch it.
- I’m very happy that Leo won an award, but I don’t understand why having an Oscar gives his career more credibility than it did previously. He’s very good at his job! Awards shows are stupid and we shouldn’t care about them, but we do.