The first woman in 23 years took home an Oscar for Best Original Score. Here's why it matters.

When Hildur Gudnadottir walked up to the stage at the Oscars last night to receive her award for Best Original Score, I squealed. Then I texted my 19-year-old daughter, "A female composer won Best Score for 'Joker'!!!"


My daughter is a music composition major with ambitions to become a film composer. I knew how huge last night's award was because when we researched that career choice, we discovered how unbelievably male-dominated the film scoring industry is.

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Most people with a keen interest in movies can name a few film composers off the top of their heads—John Williams, Hanz Zimmer, Howard Shore, etc. But very few can name even one female film scorer, or even recognize one by name. When my daughter and I watched the film scoring industry documentary, Score, we were dismayed to find that of the nearly 50 composers interviewed, just two were women.

But sadly, that ratio lines up pretty closely with the actual statistics. A report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film shows that of the top 250 domestic box office films of 2018, 94 percent were scored by men. In addition, a 2018 University of Southern California study found that of the top 1,100 fictional films from 2007 to 2017, male composers were included in credits 1,200 times—and female composers just 16.

Such drastic underrepresentation can't possibly be due to a lack of interest in the field, since there are plenty of women in other musical careers. There's nothing inherently gendered about music, so it's not about talent or ability, either. As Captain Marvel composer Pinar Toprak said in an interview, "Music, and art in general, it's genderless because emotions are genderless."

However, history has not seen music as genderless. Some of this underrepresentation may be due to our automatic connection between orchestral music and male composers, thanks in large part to a long history of female composers being unable to have their work heard. (One example: Felix Mendelssohn's sister, Fanny, was every bit his musical equal, yet she was discouraged from publishing her compositions. When she finally did get her work published, it was under her brother's name. Mozart's sister was also a child musical prodigy, her talents largely overlooked by society and history.)

Perhaps there are also some self-perpetuating assumptions in the industry. The most famous and successful composers have always been men (notably, almost exclusively white men), therefore men may automatically be seen as the most able composers. As in many male-dominated industries, male domination itself becomes a defining factor of the field without even trying. Instead of a "glass ceiling," female composers face a "sound barrier" purely because of their gender—one that, despite some chipping away, seems very hard to break.

That's why this Oscar win by Gudnadottir—as well as her other wins, such as being the first solo female composer to win a Golden Globe for Best Score—is a big deal. That's why Pinar Toprak being the first woman to score a Marvel film was a big deal. That's why my daughter seeing such examples of both excellence and recognition is a big deal.

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As Gudnadottir said her speech, "To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters, who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices."

This win will help smooth the way for aspiring female composers like my daughter to have their voices heard.

Check out Gudnadottir's acceptance speech:

www.youtube.com

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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