Well of course the show was too long. I mean….
On the other hand, we’ve seen worse….A LOT worse. And Chris Rock was really funny. Despite all the hate tweets and humorless prigs who can find no laughs in an iconic internationally watched awards ceremony honoring the arts that is, at it’s worst, laughable.
Well, I don’t know about you but I needed a few good laughs and some decent movie moments this weekend. Expecting the worst – or the most dull – I got something… pretty good. As I tell my students almost daily:
It’s all about expectations.
I was talking to a friend online during a commercial break who was finding the show a mess. This was right after I was laughing myself rather silly over one of Mr. Rock’s funnier produced segments – I think it was the moment we got to see Leslie Jones beating up a fake Leo DiCaprio and his bear in a mini-Revenant parody over the lack of roles for Black actresses; which was followed by Tracy Morgan in drag as The Danish Girl munching down on a pastry and saying This is good Danish, Girl… !
In any event, what I wrote to my friend was that, yes, the entire show felt a bit uncomfortable because of what’s going on in the Motion Picture Academy at the moment (Note: #OscarsSoWhite) . Which mirrors the time period the country is presently enduring politically (Note #2: #MakeAmericaGreat Again #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter).
I mean, when Mr. Rock joked about the Academy doing an In Memoriam segment that featured all the Black people shot by cops on the way to the movies this year – it sort of encapsulates the overarching issue out there, doesn’t it?
Yet with all that being said – and whether you liked, hated or felt indifferent about the entire show — it still beat Seth McFarlane mincing around the stage singing We Saw Your Boobs! or Rob Lowe serenading Snow White. Oh, how quickly you forget.
By the way, this is by no means a mea culpa for Hollywood. One need just look around the audience. Or simply listen to Louis CK admonish all of the rich attendees – when announcing the short documentary category – that they better pay attention because the winner they were about to honor was not only probably the poorest in the room but would never make as much as any of them in his or her entire lifetime. Since they were, Mr. CK stated, quite simply the bottom line true storytellers in the room because they all do it for little economic reward.
See, it’s not like many people in Hollywood don’t get IT. It’s just that they seldom work as a collective. And most don’t Do anything about IT. They’re too busy looking for a job, trying to keep the job they have or simply attempting to survive in an industry where baseline behavior often borderlines on the just slightly insane.
Again, just an explanation – not an excuse. Because any of us who think the white, straight male patriarchy is just going to roll over and relinquish its power need only spend a bit more time monitoring the 2016 presidential election, the relationship between the White House and Congress or merely track the progress in replacing the late Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court for an answer. As Mr. Rock so eloquently put it in his opening monologue (and I’m paraphrasing):
Of course Hollywood is racist. But they’re not Burning Cross racist. They’re sorority racist. It’s more – we like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.
And oy vey, did Black Twitter did blow up over that one. Well, I’m still p.o.’d Crash beat Brokeback Mountain for best picture 10 years ago so I suppose I get it. And none of the major above-the-line talents on the latter above were even LGBT (why would they be?) – only the subject matter.
But back to the show. Or shall I say, the nominees and winners.
Here are some facts that are interesting to note and remember:
Best Picture, Original Screenplay winner: Spotlight — It was about reporters who uncovered the long buried sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and, most importantly, the Church hierarchy that covered it up.
Best Director, Actor winner: The Revenant — A period film about man and nature that subliminally deals with the environment and literally tackles American racism towards Native Americans.
Best Actress winner: Room — A contemporary drama about a survivor of kidnapping and sexual abuse.
Best Supporting Actor winner: Bridge of Spies — A drama that takes apart the US government’s secrecy surrounding its 1950s spy program against the Soviet Union and the hypocrisy therein.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short — A contemporary comedy/drama that manages to shed some light and condemnation to the major players in the American financial meltdown of the previous decade.
No, Lady Gaga and Diane Warren didn’t win best song but the former’s performance of Till It Happens to You was undeniably one of the emotional high moments of the night when it concluded with a stage full of young female and male rape survivors surrounding her onstage.
As for the subject matter of the film that swept most of the technical awards – Mad Max:Fury Road – it dealt with the abuse and victimization of women of all ages in a futuristic societal wasteland – a world with little clean air, water or anything else because of the disregard and greed of all the generations that came before it.
That would be us.
So while the movies have a long way to go in order to meaningfully address societal inequities and real world issues – it’s not as if Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 was awarded best picture, the new Star Wars won anything at all, or that Jurassic World 2, Hunger Games 28 or Furious 7 got any nominations.
All of the above might be scant enough progress but I’ll take it for now and hope for a rosier future.
And that they bring Chris Rock back next year.
Among other things.