Age ain't nothing but a number ... until you see how it affects Oscar nods.

I did the math on the Oscars. And unfortunately, it's a bummer.

This year's Academy Awards don't just have a racial diversity problem (which you've probably heard all about by now), the nominations have a gender age gap problem, too.


The youngest nominated actress is 21-year-old Saoirse Ronan. The oldest nominated actor is 69-year-old Sylvester Stallone. Photo on the left by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images. Photo on the right by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

There's a 10-year difference between the average age of the nominated actors and actresses this year.

That is, the average age of those in the best leading actor and supporting actor categories is 47, while that number is 37 in the best leading actress and supporting actress columns.

Hmmm. Houston, do we have a big, sexism-meets-ageism problem on our hands here?

GIF via "Happy Endings."

Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I mean, any statistician would probably tell me that I can't just look at a single year's worth of data and claim there's a problematic pattern (at least, that's what I assume a statistician would tell me, if I asked).

So I looked at the ages of last year's nominees. Surprisingly (or maybe not-so-surprisingly), a nearly identical gap existed in 2015. The average age of the actors at the time of last year's awards was 51, while it was 41 for the actresses.

And actually ... this pattern goes back even further. Between 2002 and 2013, the average age of the nominated actors was 48, while the average age of the nominated actresses was 40.

If one time is a mistake, two times is concerning, and three times is a pattern...yeah, Houston, it seems we have a problem here.

The Oscars' bias against older women is long and well-documented.

The Chicago Tribune, for instance, created a super handy interactive graph that plots all the acting nominees and winners between the very first Academy Awards in 1929 and 2014, when Lupita Nyong'o won for her role in "12 Years a Slave."

As the Tribune's graph shows, not only do Oscar voters gravitate toward relatively younger actresses during the nominating process, but the actors who win tend to be older than the average male nominee, while the actresses who win tend to be younger than the average female nominee.

Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "12 Years a Slave" in 2014. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Marie Claire.

So why does this weird gap exist? Is Hollywood filled with awful, sexist, ageist dudes in powerful positions?

While we can't rule that out, the problem is a bit more complicated than that.

As is the case with the Oscars' lack of racial diversity, nominees (and winners) are more a reflection of what types of movies are actually getting produced and gaining attention, as well as what types of roles are available in those movies. For decades, studio heads have assumed American moviegoers won't watch a film with, say, a person of color as the lead. Or with a female-led cast. Or an openly gay main character. Despite these notions being proven wrong time and time again — remember when "Straight Outta Compton" blew away the box office, or when Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy” raked in $236 million last year? — Hollywood bigwigs still seem hesitant to fund projects they deem "risky" for their bottom lines.

The discriminatory nature of the Oscars is the result of a much deeper-rooted, systemic problem in the film industry.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, after they won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay for "Good Will Hunting." Photo by Hal Garb/AFP/Getty Images.

When women get older, for instance, the number of prominent roles available to them shrinks way more than it does for aging men. Part of the problem is the fact that old(er) dudes being romantically matched with women half their age on screen is a normalcy (no one batted an eye when then-50-year-old Steve Carell was paired with then-29-year-old Olivia Wilde in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"), while the reverse is a rarity.

In case you're wondering what Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren thinks of this sad double standard, she believes it's "f*cking outrageous." Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for FIJI Water.

There may be another factor helping drive the gender age gap at the Oscars.

Research out of Rice University suggests the fact women tend to launch their acting careers earlier than their male peers contributes to the fact they get recognized for their work (i.e., snag an Oscar nod) at a younger age.

Anne Lincoln, who was a sociology postdoctoral fellow at the time of the study in 2005, analyzed all the Oscar nominees dating back to the beginning of the awards and found women historically start acting an average of roughly two-four years earlier than men do. So it's natural they'd win awards earlier too.

But that doesn't dismiss the idea that Hollywood is partial to young women — it may support it.

"Is there a Hollywood bias toward younger women? That could be part of it,” Lincoln explained, noting that particular question wasn't part of her study's framework. "Women are more likely to be fashion models than men are, and if they begin modeling while they’re young, that might support a social-network approach to acting careers."

There's no easy way to fix the systemic oppression of certain groups at the Oscars. But, to give the Academy credit, they're trying.

After the whole Internet (or at least a ton of angry people on Twitter and Facebook) collectively rolled their eyes in frustration that all the acting nods went to white actors this year (for the second year in a row), the Academy took significant steps to change the status quo.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The Academy, which is overwhelmingly old, white, and male, is aiming to double the number of women and diverse folks in its membership (the people who actually cast votes for the Oscars) by 2020. It's also capping voting statuses at 10 years for inactive members, which will lead to a younger voting pool down the line.

No, this won't be an overnight fix for the larger systemic problems facing the film industry. But Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the Oscars can't afford to sit back and hope change will come.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

Diversity, FTW. But will this close the gender age gap for Academy Awards down the road? One can only guess. But I, for one, agree with Mirren: Hollywood double standards are f*cking outrageous. And it's about time the Oscars aim to put an end to them.


Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

Keep Reading Show less
True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

There's an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.

There's no better example of that than a 2016 discovery at the University of California, Irvine, by doctoral student Mya Le Thai. After playing around in the lab, she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills.

Keep Reading Show less
via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

Keep Reading Show less