So, as happens every year, a bunch of people have their noses out of joint over the OSCAR nominations for 2016.
Without going over the list itself I'd like to point out a few things that seem, consistently, to be missed by whining, outraged hashtaggers.
1) THIS ISN'T A SPORTS COMPETITION
Nobody "deserves" an OSCAR. Let me say that again. Nobody, not the winners, not the losers and not those who aren't allowed to play, deserves an OSCAR. No one can get "robbed" of an OSCAR. No mistake has ever been made as to who walks away with the little golden man.
To believe otherwise is to believe that there are rules to this thing, that there is a true competion going on and that somewhere a sober, impartial referee is making final determinations.
Nope. Sorry. If you think any of that, you must be watching some other telecast. Because, if that's how you feel, you aren't watching the OSCARs.
This "contest" is about as far from being based on merit as handful of loaded dice. It always has been and it always will be. OSCAR isn't about winning or losing. It's not about competition.
OSCAR is about selling movies, "Hollywood Culture" and, after that, it's about the cool kids at the world's biggest high school patting themselves on the back.
Merit is not a component. Let me say that again. MERIT is not a component.
OSCAR has far more in common with a political campaign than it does with a foot race. That's because it has NOTHING in common with a foot race.
The field is not flat (nor will it ever be). The judges are not impartial (nor will they ever be). The goal is NOT to present the finest in film to the world. Do i need to saythat again?
If the horse you want doesn't win or, more likely, even get to race it's because that horse was never in contention and was never going to be in contention. You can't lose a race you weren't ever in and to which you weren't invited.
2) YOU ARE NOT THE ACADEMY (and neither am I)
The "Academy," that is the large, largely unknown group of mostly straight, mostly white, mostly over-forty men, votes on the movies and people who get nominated and who win. While this is technically democratic in the strictest sense, it's obvious the demographics here do not serve anything close to a dverse population.
Why is this important? Because of how voting is done.
Studios send Academy members free DvDs called "screeners" or they send tickets to special showings of the films they wish them to like. In theory every studio who can afford to particiapte does. This leads to a lot of OPPORTUNITIES to see a lot of interesting films but, let's be real here.
Indy movies about some black and latin high school geeks trying to unload some drugs they accentally ended up holding or the quest for revenge of a black transexual hooker in Hollywood will never, not ever, never, ever, ever, ever, ever be top priority for the majority of the Academy's voters. Not to see and not to vote upon.
If they are considered at all they are considered LAST (and, let's be real again, they are not considered. They are not watched).
And, even if they ARE considered, even if they are watched by some, the VAST majority of the people doing the OSCAR voting are not only straight, white and male, they are also upper middle-class. That means the stories depicted in these sorts of films are so far removed from their personal experience that they will either be bored or offended by them minutes into the film.
Which are not watched. I promise you.
Remember merit? Good. Now, forget about it. Not only forget. Take the concept of merit, shoot it in the face, chop it to bits, dissolve the bits in acid and scatter the pulp on the shoulders of as many rural highways as you can.
Merit is dead when it comes to the Oscars.
Remember, instead, the popular kids in your high school? Remember how even the people who claimed to hate them mostly wanted an invite to their parties and would bask like seals in a scintilla of the hint of their approbation? "Hollywood" makes that look like a drug-free weightlifting competition between vegitarian pacifist Buddhist monks.
The point of OSCAR is money. It's about adverstising to the world the meme of glamor and perfection that puts billions of eyes on one of the most boring annual events conceivable. People eat that meme like junkies shoot heroin. That meme makes some people a LOT of money. LOTS and LOTS in some cases.
Consequently, as with less glamorous political campagining, lots of money is spent to get the nominations and to then run for the Academy's final votes. We talk of votes being split between several performers or directors, for instance, which couldn't happen if this was a merit-based competitition. No voting would be required.
4) YEP. RACISM & SEXISM ABOUND IN "HOLLYWOOD"
Hollywood exists in the United States, last I checked. The US, like all of the Western world, like all of the world, is RIFE with its versions of racism and sexism. So, of course, that means you will see racism and sexism evidenced at all levels of the industry both in front of and behind the camera.
And you will see their opposites as well. Because "Hollywood" is also RIFE with decent people with no axes to grind int terms of gender or race. Which leads us to something we'll get to in a second.
I like the FAST & FURIOUS movies, for the most part. They aren't high art; they barely merit "low art" status in my book but that isn't the point of them. The point is they are fun romps with spectacular displays and I ALWAYS feel I got my money's worth when I see one of them. Why? Because when I go see one of these movies I'm not going in with the expectation that I'll see Meryll, Kevin and Peter delivering bravura performances in a film designed to challenge my soul.
The F & F movies never once promised me that. I don't go in expecting that. They promise fun, fights, quips, humor and over-the-top adventure and that's precisely what they deliver. Their promise and my expectations synch up. All they have to do is deliver, which they do.
OSCAR makes no promises. With OSCAR all you have to look at is the track record.
Who has won? In what catergories? For what sorts of roles or creations? Go and look. I'll wait.
(this article was written after the fact, summing up something that isn't news to anyone who's been paying attention to OSCAR). --> New York TImes Article
Back? So you see you've got a pattern there. No one can argue it. No one can defend it. It is what it actually is and that's it. Knowing that pattern, how do you allow yourself to be outraged or surprised by the whitemaleness of something that has been the way it is since its conception?
You don't get to be that naive. Not and be taken seriously. Your expectations are your problem and since no promises were made to you about increased "diversity," your expectation and hurt feelings in that regard are equally moot. boo hoo.
It's not a snub, in other words, if you were never in the race and were never going to be. Get over it, grown-ups. Get over it and get over yourselves. This isn't an open democracy. OSCAR isn't a public institution. Your outrage is ENTIRELY meaningless because it is entirely toothless.
Why? Because they gotcha. Pissed off or not, moral high ground or not, you will be watching that interminable telecast from the time the first limo arrives at the carpet until the indicia runs at the end of the credits. How do I know? Because the numbers say most of the planet watches the thing. (I don't, but that puts me in the EXTREME minority.)
Even if somehow a few thousand or a few hundred thousand (lol, as if) of you managed to "boycott" OSCAR this year, so what? BILLIONS will be there. Your absence will be missed even less than it's noticed. Meaning "less than not at all."
Sounds pretty bleak, don't it? I sound pretty cynical, right?
5) A FIX
I actually agree. The Academy should get its head out of its collective, priveleged, disconnected, probably just a little racist and misogynistic ass.
Do I expect it will while I'm alive? Nope. I'm not quite that naive.
So, what's to do?
Well, that's where all this actually gets interesting.
Once upon a time there was an awards show called the CABLE ACE AWARDS. it was a little show, cobbled together hastily by the then, small number of cable networks. The only shows allowed to compete in this awards show were those created by and presented on cable networks. The math on it wasn't hard. It lasted a couple of years, I think. Or seasons. Then it mysteriously went away, never to be heard from again.
Exept the disappearance wasn't a mystery and the birth story of the CABLE ACE AWARDS was and remains interesting.
THE CAA SHOW existed because of a direct and intentional snub. For a couple of years in a row, the EMMY AWARDS refused to include shows from cable networks in "competition." Remembering what we've learned about what awards shows are and are for, one can see how the cable networks were a little bent over this. Money was being lost.
Cable complained the first year. EMMY ignored them. Cable complained the second year. EMMY ignored them. I don't recall how many years it took but it was fewer than five before Cable showed EMMY what was what.
Cable started giving out its own awards and, more importantly, it started generating a MASSIVE audience for that startup awards show. Turns out a lot of people were watching cable. Shock.
I think the CAAs lasted maybe two or three seasons before EMMY "absorbed" them and they were no more.
I think you see where I'm going with this but don't run ahead.
You'll say, "Yeah, Geoff but we already have the IMAGE AWARDS and the SPIRIT AWARDS for "everybody else." They can't compete with the OSCARS."
Nope. They can't in their current form. And here's why.
The IMAGE awards, so far, are basically bunk in my opinion. Even more than the OSCARs. They exist solely to give black performers and "black" product awards. On the surface, this seems like the same thing the CAAs did to the EMMYs, right? Wrong.
The CAAs weren't political. Well, not ethnic politics, anyway. They were about money. They were about asses in the seats and eyes on the screens and that's it. They didn't set themselves up just to have an awards show. They did so to make it CLEAR that the only way for the EMMYs to be taken seriously, going forward, was to aknowledge cable.
The IMAGE awards don't do that because they confine themselves to only one sort of Person of Color. They self-ghettoize, in other words.
Does Pro Sports do that? Nope. Once the various sports were desegregated, all athletes competed and won on their equivalent of a flat field. There's no award for best Croatian Left-Handed Quarterback because that would be stupid. And it would be just as stupid to have awards for Best Black Strong Forward or Polo King or whatever (not a sports guy, you can tell).
And, lest you think I'm somehow singling out the IMAGE awards, the same holds true for the SPIRIT awards. Also self-ghettoizing by focusing on "indy" films exclusively. Not to mention the indies who get their focus exist in a fairly narrow band.
Whatever point these alternative awards think they're making, they're not. They don't get the eyes. They don't get the asses and, consequently, that sticker on the DvD saying somebody won one doesn't stack up against OSCAR.
But, if they, say, COMBINED their awards, opened the doors to EVERYONE, yes, including the odd "Hollywood" film and the odd film with whites in it (oh, horrors), they would immediately create the foundation and, frankly, the gravitas, the OSCARs lacks. More importantly, they would draw stars of all stripes, meaning they'd draw eyes and, well, you can do the math.
BOTTOM LINE: You can't fight segregation with segragation. It simply doesn't work. You fight segregation with inclusion and showing, via example, that inclusion, so-called "diversity," is not only better but more lucrative.
Which it is, as pretty much every advertising agency will tell you. And so will the Disney corporation, as their recent STAR WARS grand slam cements. Diversity is the way to make pots of cash whether you are a "white" organization or a "black" one. Diversity is for everybody, not just something to flick at white people like a wet gym towel. Everyone. Or no one.
If it's not for everyone, please stop whining about it.
Now, of course, not being naive, I know neither of these awards givers will do any part of this. It would require certain admissions of fact that would strike dead center in too many egos. So the "problem" of the whitewashed OSCARs will go on, and on, and on and so will all the useless whining about it.
But there is a solution to this problem. It's not even hard. You just have to want to.
My opinion, obviously. Mileage varies.