Monday, February 29, 2016

The post-Academy Awards post.

It came to us in the usual three-hour-plus format.  It began with Chris Rock saying a couple of genuinely incisive things (about racism from ostensibly progressive/liberal Hollywood and the In Memoriam segment being made up of African-Americans killed while on their way to the movies), which became subsumed by Rock's more reactionary side (bad, snide jokes about the nonappearance of boycotters Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and a "well, you're saying that because you don't have a job" dismissal of people expecting Rock to dare to turn down his first Academy Awards hosting gig in over a decade to show solidarity with #OscarsSoWhite).

It continued with expected acting, directing and cinematography wins.  Taking time to wonder if Inarritu, whenever he wins again, will repeat the cycle of interviews rationalizing his work methods of being harsh to actors, crew, line producers, etc.

It had the moment where Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the AMPAS President, delivered a sort-of-corporatespeak speech which I interpreted as saying:
Each of you represent the Academy.  Don't be afraid to enact diversity when greenlighting movies, hiring actors and choosing crew members.

It had a rare moment when the Vice President of the United States introduced a song from a documentary about rape on college campuses by opining against rape and rape culture.  This is a notable PSA in an industry where young women and men are often viewed by (most often) men in various levels of power as attractive bodies which can be coerced into consensual sex--or, sometimes, raped outright (particularly when the powerful men can ensure few to no consequences for their behavior).

And, finally, as ceremony, it did its best to overcompensate (with appearances by African-American, Latino and Asian actors) for the kind of diversity not often seen on-screen or behind the camera in this year's nominated films.

Between last night and next year, some disgruntled rank-and-file Academy members will leap at the opportunity to continue complaining about Not Getting To Vote on maintaining what they hoped would be eternal Academy membership.

Also, the progressive people who run studios--plus the more conservative folks who work below-the-line on sets may be momentarily chastened, but less than eager to devote detailed thought as to who has a better chance of being hired and what movies get made.

Of course, this could lead to backsliding rationalized by "we have to have a blockbuster slate," "we can't make tentpoles with African-American actors as leads because of prejudice in [insert country here]," "it costs too much to market even mid-budget films," "we have to cast people with massive social media presence," "I don't want quotas in terms of crew hired" and "I didn't see it because they didn't send a screener DVD and the streaming link didn't work."

Safe to guess the hypotheticals listed above will continue as before.  And, alas, increasing the possibility of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite becoming an annual occurrence.

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