E: So that wasn’t so bad after all. I’m pleasantly surprised at last night’s outcome. Jimmy Kimmel managed perfectly well, the broadcast managed to be political and classy at the same time, and the musical performances hit me right in the feels. A little outrage, a little disappointment, and a bit of triumph to close it all out.
Which is to say, 5 out of 6 ain’t bad, especially when I was rooting to lose the 6th one. Continue reading →
We’ve heard a lot in recent months about the horrible things that powerful Hollywood men do behind closed office or hotel room doors, and the negative impact this has on the careers and mental health of women in the industry.
Surprisingly though, in the run-up to the biggest starry night of Tinseltown, we haven’t heard a peep about that time the Academy Awards broadcast a song-and-dance number reminding female actresses that, whatever they’ve accomplished in their careers, and however many awards their talent may earn them, the really crucial thing about them is that “We Saw Your Boobs.”
Sure, Seth McFarlane’s hosting gig was 5 years ago now. But just because the Academy didn’t say anything then doesn’t mean an apology isn’t still owed now.
Go look at it on Youtube if you must. Remind yourself of the smug expressions on the cadre of suited singing men. Of the many intercut reaction shots of mortified women who can’t believe this is happening, or are making a heroic effort to look amused (because cool girls have a sense of humor, even when the joke’s on them, right?).
The Oscars is basically Hollywood’s annual office holiday party: it’s technically “after hours,” you’re not precisely on the job, yet neither are you precisely off the clock. (As Tina Fey wittily pointed out, most actresses spend as much time dressing for the ceremony as one would for those physically transformed acting roles the Academy loves to award.) At an office party, outrageous behavior can still lead to consequences for your career. At an office party, a man with some power in your field who hits on or objectifies you is still a candidate for a chat from HR.
So when an organization commissions a man to speak for them — which is what an MC does, albeit with jokes — and that man performs a staged, rehearsed number that is simply a list of female actors and the movies in which their secondary sexual characteristics are visible — doesn’t that organization bear a fair amount of responsibility for reducing and demeaning those actors in what was supposed to, you know, a positive moment for them? And for throwing another log on the trashcan fire that is the workplace environment of women in Hollywood?
So there’s this DHL commercial from the late 80s or early 90s (sadly unavailable online) which sticks in my mind as one of the all time greats. My family collapsed in hilarity every damn time it came on, and as you can see, quotes it to this day. It was part of a series in which DHL showed irresponsible international curriers to use at your peril; there was one with a Russian rock band that used packages as drums, and this one, in which a deliciously heavily accented French driver had an existential crisis. “I am bored today. I am FIIILLed with bored-em. Zese bourgeois businessmen waiting for zeir packages, zey can wait.”
And that’s how I feel about this year’s Oscar race. I am filled the brim with boredom.
Sure, there will be great fashion, and someone out there will probably give a great speech. Maybe not one of the actors or director or screenwriters or producers (we’ve heard them often enough now to know), but someone. Probably. Oscar matters to industry folks in a way nothing else does, and sometimes that turns self-possessed people into piles of goo. Sometimes the non-celebrity winners have the best things to say; perhaps this year it’ll be Kareem Abeed, director of nominated documentary The Last Man in Aleppo, who was initially denied a visa to attend the ceremony. Or perhaps it’ll be a complete unknown simply paying tribute to his mom. Jimmy Kimmel should be topical and funny as he was last year; I feel like Princess Leia pleading for salvation. “Jimmy Kimmel, you’re my only hope!” Without a real effort from him, I might just be here for the protestart.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some flipping fantastic movies out there this year, movies I’m so glad I’ve seen. Movies that you should go out and see if you haven’t, movies we’ll talk about here. It’s just that the ones that speak to me are not actually winning most of the awards. Also? Every single awards show has rewarded the same performances and film. The critics didn’t produce such a homogenous response, but the industry groups? Every bloody time the same. I’m not sure there’s any race up in the air.
And oh, my lord, that’s so dull. Rolling my eyes like a tween listening to a parental lecture dull, deathly dull, mind-numbingly dull, French existential crisis-level dull. No, I’m not just saying that because I don’t like this year’s presumptive winner; it’s dull even when you like the winner. I’m not longing for last year’s electoral insanity (a remarkably juicy story chronicled here) but I can’t help wishing there’ll be something at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences big show that deviates from the script.