Why Frances McDormand is Wrong on Inclusion Riders

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Frances McDormand Accepting 2018 Oscar

Of the many things that are still visible in the rear view mirror of last weekend's Oscars, one of the items still being discussed is Frances McDormand's acceptance speech, where she closed with the following:

"I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion Rider."

Is it the name of her next film? Is it the name of the next Kardashian baby?

Actually, an inclusion rider is a term applied to an actor's contract, as applied by the actor. When signing on to a movie and finalizing their contract for same, an inclusion contract is something added by the actor that forces the production company to hire cast and crew that reflects the demographics of the world. It stipulates there will be x percentage of men, y percentage of women, z percentage of this race and that race, and lgtbq percentage of LGBTQ.

We used to call this practice a "quota system."

The statement caused the stir it was meant to cause, as Twitter took up the cause. Overnight, the meme mills were fired up, and from the foundries emerged a new weaponized hashtag. And then the praise. 

From 2 BROKE GIRLS co-creator, Whitney Cummings:

And before the champagne corks were even popped, a new kind of #MeToo grew up around the movement. Now it wasn't about just women, but also disabilities:

Even the future Captain Marvel, Brie Larson, got in the act:

I'm guessing this means there's going to be a shake-up to the make-up of the cast of CAPTAIN MARVEL 2. It's not like Marvel would re-cast the character of Captain Marvel -- who has, in the comics, been an alien male, a white female, a black female, and now a Muslim female.

So here's why inclusion riders are problematic: they have the well-intentioned motive of making a film cast reflective of real life. News flash: Real life is what people go to movies to get away from in the first place. We don't fly around Tattooine and think, "Wait, where are the Asian people?" We don't drive the streets of Metropolis and wonder why more women aren't holding hands as they walk down the street. Because those things are not important to the story that is being told, and a good writer and a good director both know these things.

Making a cast more diverse isn't going to make a better movie, unless that's what the movie is supposed to be about in the first place. Throwing in token characters doesn't drive the plot. Making sure there's an even mix of races and genders and lifestyles doesn't do anything for a story that isn't about any of those things -- in fact, it distracts from it.

Cummings tweets that the reason for supporting inclusion riders is that "it will make movies better."

Here's my humble suggestion: If you want to make movies better, -- just make better movies.