Award Shows: Hollywood's Favorite Pulpit

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I skipped the Oscars last night. But a quick look at all the post-Oscar news showed how little I actually missed. First, the good: Leonardo Dicaprio finally won an Oscar! I’m also happy that Inside Out won Best Animated Movie and that Mad Max Fury Road won so many awards.

But I have some things I need to get off my chest.

Why is it that so many of the movies nominated for Oscars are ones that aren’t seen by the mass population? I mean, I loved Mad Max Fury Road, I seriously wish Star Wars: The Force Awakens won something. I mean, it’s pretty much a given that the winner for Best Animated Feature will be a movie that everyone has seen, but the awards for sound editing and sound mixing feel like table scraps compared to important awards such as Best Screenplay and Cinematography.

I’ll admit that Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t have the most original story, but you’d think the Academy would give some recognition to the highest grossing film of 2015. Besides that, Star Wars has something the other films nominated didn’t: a black man in a leading role.

I was glad that Chris Rock sort-of kind-of addressed the #OscarsSoWhite issue, but addressing the issue racism in Hollywood wasn’t going to go away just because Chris Rock decided to stick with hosting the Oscars. In fact, there was a really bad joke done at the expense of Asians that used Asian kids that dressed up as the bankers from the financial firm that tabulates all the Oscar votes.

It calls to mind a certain song:

Which reminds me…

The Oscars can be really preachy sometimes. I’m not just talking about actors constantly bringing up the issue of under-representation in the film industry. I’m talking about how Sam Smith included the LGBT community in his acceptance speech because he wanted to be the first openly gay Oscar winner. I’m talking about Leonardo Dicaprio raising awareness about climate change in his acceptance speech.

To quote a catchphrase amongst the secular community: Keep it in church! (or at the very least an op-ed in The New York Times)

Then again, maybe these award ceremonies are, in a strange way, the Church of Hollywood. I mean think about it. They dress to the nines and gather together for a very long ceremony, set aside time to honor the dead, and talk about the important issues going on alongside congratulating themselves for creating things that the rest of the world doesn’t really care about.

And at the same time, the people behind the film Spotlight call out the Catholic Church on the sex scandals that inspired the movie in the first place. It’s like they have no idea that the Catholic Church is actually making efforts to fix this scandal. And Mark Ruffalo, I love you, I really do, but combined with the fact that you support Planned Parenthood, you are quickly becoming my least favorite Avenger.

Oh, and you shouldn’t be so ignorant about Pope Francis. It was through him that Leo won that Oscar, you know! I mean, I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Dicaprio finally won an Oscar after meeting Pope Francis. Because let’s be honest, the only way you can top meeting the Pope is by winning an Academy Award.

If you ask me, I think I’d stick to my cult classics and independent films. When does Jane Wants A Boyfriend come out again?!

And The Oscar Goes To…

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There’s been a hashtag going around you might’ve seen called #OscarsSoWhite. This hashtag was made in response to the lack of diversity in this year’s batch of Oscar nominees. Directors such as Spike Lee and actors like Jada Pinkett Smith are calling for an Oscar Boycott.

While I agree that there are movies out there that may not have deserved the Oscars they were nominated for (Looking at you, Birdman), it’s not like movies with diverse leads have never been nominated before. Last year, Selma was nominated for Best Picture. The year before that, 12 Years a Slave won 3 Oscars.

Straight Outta Compton may not be nominated for Best Picture, but it’s still up for Best Original Screenplay, which is saying a lot because it’s competing against Bridge of Spies, Ex MachinaInside Out, and Spotlight, all of which are really good movies.

So it’s not like the Oscars have never considered films with diversity before.  So my first question is “Is this proof of an issue or projecting?”

We have seen evidence that diversity in media can work on its own merits. Biggest example being Hamilton, which is universally appealing, but doesn’t shove its messages of diversity and feminism down the audience’s throat. What makes Hamilton work is the characters, the music, the familiar tragic storyline, and the real message: Legacy depends on your actions and those you leave behind to tell your story. You can’t just go around complaining that people are being unfair and say “Screw you guys, I’ma going home.” I’m not completely sure if boycotts work, but last time I checked, the African-American acting community has their own awards going on.

Not to mention that there’s also this question: What about other ethnicities? America Ferrera and and Eva Longoria made a joke about how Latina actresses get mistaken for other Latina actresses. There are people out there making independent short films and diversity in television, so the constant laments about the lack of diversity in Hollywood aren’t always well-founded.

Hollywood (or at the very least the people of Twitter and Tumblr) can never be satisfied when it comes to representation. It’s crazy enough that a movie like The Danish Girl and Carol are even getting the attention that they’re getting, but according to social media, it’s not enough because the leads aren’t played by trangender/lesbian actors. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually nominated, whereas most of the time, action movies would probably get the snub or just get the token “Special Effects and Sound” nominations. Jennifer Lawrence is nominated for being the lead in a movie about a female entrepreneur and yet it’s not enough. I am mad that Charlize Theron isn’t nominated for Best Actress, though.

You know what I’m actually more angry about when it comes to the Oscars? The fact that Fifty Shades of Grey  is still getting attention through one of the songs from the movie getting a Best Original Song nomination. I’m also not a big fan of Chris Rock and I’m already cringing at the jokes that might come from him. I’m also mad that Star Wars: The Force Awakens got the token “Sound Editing/Mixing” and “Best Visual Effects” nominations. Highest grossing movie of the year and you’re just gonna give it those awards? At least give a nod to the actors who played Finn and Rey and Kylo Ren.

If you want to give voice to issues relating to diversity, there are bigger issues to deal with such as why is more attention being given to Donald Trump rather than the more sane presidential nominees? How can we balance out violence caused by the police and the retaliations that happen because of police killing innocent kids? What about abortion and the fact that most abortion clinics are in poor communities and that most babies who are aborted are black?

I’m not completely sure if I’m gonna watch the Oscars. I am rooting for a good number of movies to win. But given the bad taste in my mouth from Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting and the fact that the award show goes on forever, I might just find better uses for my time.