Awards must honour merit not gender

Oprah Winfrey at this year's Golden Globe Awards.

Oprah Winfrey’s man-the-barricades speech at this week’s dressed-in-black Golden Globe awards catapulted her into America’s consciousness as a possible White House contender.

Whether that moment of peak celebrity transpires into something more substantial, only time can tell.

However, it is disheartening but understandable that all a person has to do today is to make a powerful, coherent speech that reflects the zeitgeist to seem a plausible contender for the most powerful position in the world. Much more is required.

It is disheartening but hardly understandable, though, that Annie Doona, chairwoman of the Irish Film Board, speaking about this year’s Irish Film and Television Academy nominations, expressed her “disappointment at the gender imbalance on shortlists for almost every category of award”.

For that criticism to hold water it must be established that people were denied opportunity for no reason other than their gender.

That seems at best unlikely. Those who invest in filmmaking are utterly indifferent to the gender of those they employ. They are just interested in their ability to make good, commercially successful films.

Ms Doona’s expressed wish, “that at next year’s awards, female talent will be equally represented” is an entirely laudable objective as long as it is subsidiary to a far higher principle — merit.

Like justice, these awards must be blind and go to those who deserve them irrespective of their gender.


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