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Kirstie Alley Criticized For Bashing Oscars’ Diversity Campaign

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Updated on Sep 11, 2020. Posted on Sep 9, 2020

Kirstie, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, called it a “disgrace to artists.”

On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — aka the Oscars — shared new standards for Best Picture eligibility.

“The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience,” the Academy shared in the statement.

An eligible film must meet two of their four criteria: onscreen representation (themes and narratives), creative leadership and project team, industry access and opportunities, and/or audience development.

Change starts now. We’ve announced new representation and inclusion standards for Best Picture eligibility, beginning with the 96th #Oscars. Read more here: https://t.co/qdxtlZIVKb

For more information on what qualifies for meeting each standard, check out the full statement and guidelines here.

Well, on Wednesday, actor Kirstie Alley criticized the initiative in a now-deleted tweet.

“This is a disgrace to artists everywhere. Can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his fucking paintings? You people have lost your minds,” she said.

She also called the rules “dictatorial”:

I’ve been in the motion picture Academy for 40 years. The Academy celebrates freedom of UNBRIDLED artistry expressed through movies. The new RULES to qualify for “best picture” are dictatorial .. anti-artist..Hollywood you’re swinging so far left you’re bumping into your own ass

There was an immediate backlash:

@kirstiealley you weren’t getting nominated even without these new guidelines so what’s your point?

@kirstiealley Don’t worry, a little inclusion won’t be what’s keeping that Oscar statuette off your mantle….

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay even tweeted this GIF at Kristie’s tweet…

…to which Kirstie doubled down on her stance:

🤣But I ask you to explore my record of diversity & inclusion in anything I’ve produced & throughout my life. I’m not perfect but have fought for human & civil rights for 50 years. I just don’t agree w mandated, impossible to “police” quotas as a prerequisite 4 a “best” picture🤷‍♀️ https://t.co/PZy4QMZcEu

After the backlash, Kirstie followed up with a tweet saying, “Diversity and inclusion should be taught — taught so well and so naturally and genuinely that it becomes second nature to our children.”

Diversity and inclusion should be taught, taught so well and so naturally and genuinely that it becomes second nature to our children.

Although Kirstie has not apologized, she has recently clarified:

I deleted my first tweet about the new rules for best movie OSCARS because I feel it was a poor analogy & misrepresented my viewpoint. I am 100% behind diversity inclusion & tolerance. I’m opposed to MANDATED ARBITRARY percentages relating to hiring human beings in any business.

She’s doing a lot of tweeting currently, and we’ll update you if she apologizes or further addresses the situation.

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Hear me out: why Maid in Manhattan isn’t a bad movie | Jennifer Lopez

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2002 was a bumper year for romcoms. Banking on the commercial safety of a saccharine love story, studios splashed out on everything from the Nick Hornby adaptation About A Boy to Gurinder Chadha’s Hounslow tale Bend It Like Beckham, Sandra Bullock facing off against corporate shill Hugh Grant in Two Weeks Notice, matrimonial romp My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Reese Witherspoon’s nostalgic Sweet Home Alabama, to name just a few titles.

This was a golden age for will-they-won’t-they tales set to the backdrop of the new millennium, burgeoning digital literacy and predictable scripts that ensured that they, in fact, always did. Nestled amongst these releases was a critically derided, commercially dominating cultural relic: Maid In Manhattan.

The film stars Jennifer Lopez as a maid working in a luxury Manhattan hotel, who finds herself falling for a senatorial candidate (Ralph Fiennes) – who in turn has a soft spot for Richard Nixon – via a farcical case of mistaken identity. Lopez keeps up with her adopted, socialite guise until her secret is revealed and much hand-wringing ensues. Fiennes ultimately decides that her lowly status as a maid is good enough for him; he can share his wealth anyway. Over the closing credits we see that Fiennes has won his seat and Lopez has now transitioned from maid to an employer of maids.

Lopez was at the height of her popularity and power when the film was released, having broken through with the title role in Selena in 1997, then played alongside George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, before starring in hit The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey, as well as reaching number one in the US charts with her second album J.Lo – a nickname coined by director Oliver Stone on the set of his 1997 film U Turn. Lopez’s money-making credentials were solid. Fiennes, meanwhile, brought an outsized theatrical gravitas to his role, following Oscar-nominated turns in Schindler’s List and The English Patient.

From the lofty, hindsighted position of this century’s increasing political turmoil and structural inequality, their pairing in the film now becomes an excellent satire on new millennium naivety – an attempt to shoehorn fairytale tropes into an unruly and unbalanced modern society.

In the film’s moral universe, the only place for women of colour is in the bowels of the hotel, performing menial work, and the only way one of the more ambitious of their ranks, Lopez, can progress is by mistakenly posing as a white socialite and ultimately romancing her way out of her social class. Above all, Fiennes is implicitly praised for his willingness to elevate her into his ranks, to be seen with someone like a brown maid in public. And in the film’s climactic scene, Lopez’s son argues that his mother should be given a second chance, making a clumsy comparison to rehabilitating Nixon after his impeachment in the process. If nothing else, we know by now that impeachment should not be so easily glossed over …

Even the film’s poster is absurd. Lopez sits on a bench in front of the Manhattan skyline in her maid’s uniform – a visual signifier of her servitude – while she daydreams in an infantilised pose an image floating in the sky of her in a diamond necklace flanked by Fiennes, him showing more than a glimpse of his future turn as Voldemort through an unnerving smirk.

With the hindsight, too, of Lopez’s scene-stealing turn in 2019’s Hustlers, here we see her acting chops in embryonic form, while the supporting cast props her up in impressive fashion. The late Bob Hoskins provides paternal authority as butler Lionel, Stanley Tucci is on reliably camp form as Fiennes’ adviser Jerry and the late Natasha Richardson is the gleefully villainous socialite Caroline Lane. All the while Fiennes holds court as the smiling, yet ominously ambitious senatorial candidate.

In a year of popular romcoms that at least attempted to incorporate the nuances of reality – immigrant experiences in Bend It Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, depression in About A Boy, southern anachronism in Sweet Home Alabama – Maid in Manhattan stands out as a curious, absurdist fairytale. It deserves another watch because of its fantastic ignorance to the context of its making. It is the unexpected death knell of the romanticised American dream onscreen; it is the last gasp of old-fashioned romcom idealism in a different world. It tells us, in the most glowing of terms, that you can’t hope to work your way into a better life any more, that in fact the odds are so stacked against you if you are a single, working-class mother that all you can hope for is a chance, mistaken encounter to be swept off your feet. And then, you too can become a profiteering business owner, enacting the means of your own subjugation on those less fortunate. Happily ever after, indeed.


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Only Old Millennials And Gen X'ers Will Be Able To Do Well On This '80s Kid Quiz

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It’s time to take a trip down memory road with this quiz!


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Does Umbridge Like You?

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“You know, I really hate children.”

Editor’s Note: BuzzFeed does not support discriminatory or hateful speech in any form. We stand by the LGBTQ+ community and all fans who found a home in the Harry Potter series and will work to provide a safe space for fans. If you, like us, feel impassioned about trans rights, learn more or donate here.

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