Monday, February 23, 2009

My Usual Oscar Contrariness

First off, let me say that apart from Midnight Cowboy (1969), there is no Oscar winner for Best Picture that really matters to me very much. Sure, there have been some good films in there but in a world where 1980's Ordinary People can beat Raging Bull, what good is the Best Picture Oscar anyway?

And I'm probably not the best person to write about racial and gender identity considering how I objectify Asian actresses on my blog but I'm going to do it anyway.

The Oscars usually make me embarrassed to be a liberal. The annual pat-on-the-back marathon, the hard work at showing that "we care a lot" (to paraphrase Faith No More), gets to be wearying after the first hour of the broadcast, never mind as the clock gets near midnight.

Only in Hollywood could a win for a film about a gay rights icon be seen as an actual accomplishment at getting gender equality in America. Maybe the scriptwriter's real and moving speech will change hearts and minds? Maybe.

And there is something a bit disgusting about the way that a handful of British filmmakers accepted their awards for a hackneyed piece of pap using the very actors from the film as little more than window dressing. How is that anything more than another form of colonialism?

Christ, the winning screenwriter couldn't even get the names of the two leads actors right, calling Dev by his name but calling Freida Pinto by her character's name! Is that how little the Indian actors mattered to them?

The producer hugging this kid in the photo brings to mind Bill Clinton scanning the crowd for little black babies to kiss as he worked to get votes in either of his campaign years.

Real progress would be an Academy Awards telecast where an Indian filmmaker won an award.

And Cuba Gooding Jr. whose whole career is a cartoon devoid of dignity, a perpetuation of a whole catalogue of negative black male images, has no right to lecture Robert Downey Jr. -- even in jest -- about playing an actor playing a black man; Downey's performance in the otherwise overrated Tropic Thunder (2008) says more about race and liberal sensibilities in Hollywood than any film this year, Slumdog or otherwise.