Jennifer Lopez Falls Off the Oscars, Unless They Quickly Create Category For Most Memorable Pole Dance
Of all the snubs in the 2020 Oscar nominations, there’s one that stings movie fans most: that of Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. The entertainer with over three decades of acting experience was a strong favorite to win Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes, yet somehow the Academy didn’t get the memo about her career-best performance as exotic dancer Ramona in the sexy, scandalous, based-on-a-true-story drama. Unless the Academy quickly creates a new category for Most Memorable Pole Dance, Lopez will be left out of this year’s accolades. What happened? We have a handful of theories that explain the oversight below — but we’ll never forgive the Academy for ignoring one of the best actresses to appear on screen this year.
Cover Photo: Annapurna Pictures
A racy legacy: Here Are Our Favorite Movies With Strippers
Jennifer Lopez is not considered a “serious” actress.
J. Lo (fka “Jenny From the Block”) is perhaps known best as a subpar pop star with mad dance moves and daring fashion sense. While she’s been a prolific actress, her oeuvre has been limited to lightweight rom-coms and sexually-charged thrillers, with the exception of her critically-acclaimed 1997 biopic, Selena. Given her past performances, it’s not all that surprising that the Academy doesn’t consider her an Oscar-caliber actress; but if they'd bothered to see her in Hustlers, she would have changed their minds.
It’s unclear if Jennifer Lopez would have fit better in the Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress category.
Though the way Hustlers is written designates Destiny (Constance Wu) as the main character of the film, we can all agree that the only reason anyone paid attention to this film was Jennifer Lopez. J.Lo commanded the screen in every scene; without her, this film wouldn’t have been worth watching. Maybe the voting body was confused about which category a vote for Lopez belonged in, and therefore failed to vote for her at all. (But we doubt it, because...)
A Latina has never won Best Actress.
The Academy figures, “Why start now?” See also: they’re racist. #OscarsSoWhite
The Academy is sexually repressed.
It’s 2020. If you can’t tolerate seeing women’s empowered sexuality on screen, you’re probably too old to be sexually active anyway. But you’re not too old, apparently, to cast votes for the Oscars. Sorry you can’t appreciate a mature woman whose body has never been more bangin’ (even after twins!) and whose star power only increases with age. Go on with your bad self, J. Lo. We worship you even if the Academy doesn’t.
Or maybe they’re just sexist.
Sex workers and strippers aren’t anathema to Oscar voters. The New York Times dissected this very sexist phenomenon in an article titled “Play a Hooker and Win an Oscar.” A few nominees you might remember: Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas, Sharon Stone in Casino, and Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite. Since that article was published in 1996, 10 actresses have been nominated for Oscars for their roles as sex workers or strippers. So the Academy doesn’t care if you play a sex worker – in fact, they seem to prefer women in these roles – but only in films directed by men.
The Academy can’t handle female-driven films.
Though Hustlers deals in serious topics – sex workers, Wall Street, fraud – the fact that it focuses on women’s experiences and depicts men as victims probably didn’t sit well with conservative, aging Oscar voters. (In fact, one 91-year-old voter blatantly stated that Hustlers is "not an Oscar movie.") And yet, The Wolf of Wall Street tackled these same topics and netted five Oscar nominations. (Hmm…)
Women’s stories are often disregarded by the cinematic powers-that-be as catering to a “niche” audience (i.e. only people with vaginas) while men’s stories (see every film attached to the Best Director category) are assumed to be “universal.” It’s no coincidence that Little Women was also mostly overlooked in this year’s Oscar nominations; but in that film, the women are covered literally from head to toe in modest clothing and don’t upset men’s lives like the scantily-clad female characters in Hustlers.
The Academy keeps women of color in a box.
Look back at Oscar nominations in years past, and you’ll see a disturbing trend. Actresses of color are often only nominated when they’re poor and/or playing slaves. Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona was raking in those dolla dolla bills, and she did it by preying on white men so consumed with stripper fantasies that they didn’t notice they were being fleeced. It’s not a good look for white men, who make up the majority of the Academy’s voting body. We don’t advocate earning money illegally (or drugging people to get it) but, come on, haven’t white men in power been doing that for centuries? Ramona was revolutionary in the sense that she saw a market and milked it for all it was worth.
They have no idea how hard stripping is.
Before they cast their votes, we would have liked to see each member of the Academy attempt Lopez’s gravity-defying pole dance in Hustlers. We bet not one of them would even have gotten their legs off the ground, much less spread eagle over their heads. We’d pay to see them try.