Le Movie Snob is enjoying a moment of vindication. It took three years and a retweet from @, but my recommendation on how to fix the Ocsars, particularly the acceptance speeches, has been adopted by the Academy.
Lamentably, my moment of glory has been blighted, greatly, by the brouhaha over the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees.
The Academy has responded immediately to the apersions of racism, hastily revising its membership rules to accomodate more minorities.
Hurriedly adding black presenters to the ceremony is only a further insult.
But a closer examination of the situation reveals that such a knee-jerk reaction doesn’t really address this issue.
The controversy itself is suspect, for when have the Oscars ever been fair?
Does it make sense to insist there be affirmative action for awards? What if movies made with quotas were never seen?
Such a resolution is being demanded across the pond for this evening’s BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards. The protest’s organizer, Leon Herbert said:
“‘The protest is not against Bafta (sic) per se, but against the film industry.
I want to create a level playing field.”
With all due respect to Mr. Herbert, Hollywood, the center of English-language filmmaking, has never been and will never be a level playing field. Its very pith precludes equitablity.
Less than ten percent of actors who are members of the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) make a living. Then there are countless more who have yet to be granted membership. Since SAG’s merger with AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), exact figures are hard to determine.
I personally know many actors of devastating talent who appear in commercial productions in a single scene. They haven’t even earned “What’is face?” status.
That’s not fair.
It’s not fair that being showbiz spawn proffers more opportunities whether one is talented (Michael Douglas) or not (Melanie Griffith).
They Protest Too Much
In fact, the actors speaking out about the lack of diversity and threatening to boycott the ceremony are party to having created the very situation of which they protest.
How can that be?
Let’s focus on the acting category; it is the most publicly conspicuous.
The members of the Academy who decide the nominees for the acting awards are actors themselves. The only category for which all members of the Academy vote is for Best Picture.
And the votes of all members of the Academy could easily be motivated by the same influences that motivate the votes for a junior high school class president.
Bill Maher, on the January 22nd episode of his show Real Time, offered some insights during an interview with Seth MacFarlane:
Maher pressed the one-time Oscar host to explain the situation. Deftly using the Socratic Method during the discussion, MacFarlane proposed that votes could be motivated by acquaintence. One of his few affirmative statements was “everything is speculation.”
Maher filled in the blanks: He raised the important point that funding from Asia, specifically China figures greatly in how movies are cast, that Asians prefer to see Caucasians on screen.
He also revealed that many Academy members voted 12 Years A Slave Best Picture without having watched it because “they just knew it was the best picture, or should be.”
I think this is the greater insult.
It is a vote for the subject of the movie, not an award for the merits of the movie itself.
This insight also reveals why the Oscars are so predictably boring.
This is why Son Of Saul will win Best Foreign Film -Holocaust movies always win; a loss it would be the equivalent of denial.
Leonardo DiCaprio will win Best Actor for The Revenant because it’s his turn! He has not complained about previous snubs (very important) and literally braved the elements to earn one.
Charlotte Rampling had been the early odds-on favorite to win Best Actress for 45 Years, because she fearlessly revealed her loss of beauty.
But she may have alienated some of her PC peers by imperialistically remarking ” …perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” surely from fear her only shot of an Oscar would be taken from her. Brie Larson (Room) could be forgiven if she thanks Ms.Rampling during her acceptance speech.
Does anyone really care about the other categories?
Beyond the Oscars there is a beacon of hope.
It lays outside the studios that dominate the cinemas and network television.
How do I know this? Follow the talent.
The best work is being produced today is on pay-TV: Netflix, HBO, Hulu & Co.
The brilliant diversity amongst the nominees and winners at the recent SAG Awards was a result of the votes of many of the same actors who nominate and vote for their peers at the Oscars.
Because Netflix is still in its risk-taking phase, it has produced one of the most successful series ever, Orange Is The New Black, a series that has a cast populated by the exact opposite of what appears in commercial television programs sponsored by the fashion industry, the beauty industry, and their cohorts.
Look no further than producer Ross Putnam’s Twitter feed to see how Hollywood views women, and thus America: Women are under thirty, athletic, attractive, fit, sexy.
As Variety’s Awards Editor Tim Gray wrote:
…the imbalance carries into the majority of categories due to lack of opportunity. ..the problem is with Hollywood’s major studios and agencies. There were 305 films eligible this year. If hiring reflected the U.S. population, Oscar voters would have weighed 150-plus films directed by women, 45 directed by blacks, 50 by Hispanics, and dozens of movies by directors who are Asian-American, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities and members of other minorities. Of course, the actual tallies were a fraction of those numbers.
No pun intended, but Black is still the old Black at the studios.