The #MeToo and Time's Up movements took center stage at the 2018 Oscars, with winners like Frances McDormand making passionate speeches about the power of women's voices. Emma Stone continued the trend when she presented the Best Director award, saying, "These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year." The audience cheered wildly, but some viewers at home disagreed: tweets about Emma Stone's Best Director comment show that many felt her ad lib was tone deaf. As a result, the internet is split between those celebrating Stone's dig at the Academy and those dragging the actress for buying into "peak white feminism," a type of feminism that forgets to acknowledge people of color. Elite Daily reached out to Stone's team for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
By traditional standards, this year's Best Director nominees were actually incredibly diverse. While Stone is correct that Gerwig (Lady Bird) was the only woman nominated, she shared the category with Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), a Latino director, and Jordan Peele (Get Out), a black director. Christopher Nolan of Dunkirk and Paul Thomas Anderson, director of The Phantom Thread, rounded out the category. Del Toro ended up taking home the Best Director award, and he won big later in the night when The Shape of Water won Best Picture. Many feel that because Stone reduced the category to just its male-female makeup, she ignored the many factors that make it difficult for directors of color like del Toro and Peele to have their projects financed and produced.
Immediately after Stone presented Best Director, viewers took to Twitter to explain why they believe the actress' comments were a prime example of "peak white feminism." As user @devpatell puts it, the problem with Stone's comment comes down to the fact that she minimized "the achievements of the non-white male director nominees who worked so damn hard to get where they are."
Some of those upset by Stone's comments brought up the whitewashing controversy surrounding her 2015 film Aloha, in which the actress plays a character who is part Asian and part Native Hawaiian. These users, including #OscarsSoWhite founder April Reign, believe that Stone didn't learn from the Aloha controversy and instead used her spot as a presenter to double down on her "wokeness."
Stone's comments echo the sentiment of Natalie Portman, who presented the award for Best Director at the Golden Globes in January. Before Portman read out the nominees — which didn't include Gerwig — the actress said, "And here are the all male nominees," earning cheers from the audience and a laugh from her on-stage partner Ron Howard. Portman's ad lib quickly became the most memorable meme from the evening, and the star was celebrated for having the guts to say what many of the women in the room were thinking. Clearly, Stone was hoping for her comment to be as well received as Portman's — and it definitely was, inside the Dolby Theatre — but things didn't exactly go her way on social media.
I have to imagine that Stone didn't mean to offend anyone with her comment (she has yet to issue a statement on the backlash), but it's important that the star really listen to what her critics are saying. Of course, Stone likely has the same end goal in mind as those who believe she's missed the mark, but it's always useful to consider who you may be excluding by thinking a certain way. If the actress addresses the backlash, it would be nice to hear that she's internalizing the critiques and thinking about how to make feminism more intersectional. Hollywood has taken some important steps in the last few months, but there's always more to do (and even more to learn) in order to truly achieve equality.