No surprises at Oscars, just disappointment

Winston Heckt, Staff Writer

Once the nominations were announced, the 90th Academy Awards had potential to be more than the run-of-the-mill Oscars. Frances McDormand’s second Oscar win was framed as a big moment for women, and, at the end of her acceptance speech, she mentioned inclusion riders — a contractual obligation for studios to hire a diverse cast and crew that actors can sign when agreeing to work on a film. Jordan Peele’s historic win for best original screenplay and Guillermo del Toro’s best director and best picture wins were celebrated as signaling a move toward more diversity and inclusion in the Oscars.

That is bullshit. The 90th Academy Awards were the same old crap as any other year. All the Hollywood bigwigs got to pat themselves on the back on live TV, women in the industry were mostly snubbed, and two years after #OscarsSoWhite, there were only a few token nominations thrown out to people of color. Frances McDormand’s win came from a movie written and directed by a man that was chock full of racial stereotypes and sympathetic racist characters. “The Shape of Water” was also reliant on racial stereotypes with Octavia Butler being nominated for portraying the same tired Mammy stereotype that has graced the silver screen since “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915, complete with a deadbeat husband no less. For those of you unaware of what the Mammy character is, the Mammy is a gentle heavier set black woman in a servant role who is depicted as happy to support the white protagonists.

Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” was snubbed for best picture because Academy voters did not consider it to be an “Oscar film,” which I guess is code for a movie about white people and/or a movie that exploits the historical trauma of the black experience. Am I the only one who has noticed that black actors win Oscars only for movies about how shitty it
is to be black in America? These movies use white guilt and black trauma to sell tickets
and make white producers money. Movies about black triumph are not “Oscar films,” plain and simple. Greta Gerwig was snubbed entirely with not a single award for “Lady Bird,” which is ridiculous. Let it sink in that the fairytale equivalent  of that documentary
about the woman who fell in love with a dolphin won best picture over a both fresh coming-of-age story that deeply resonated with many women and a film about the fears of black men in America.

Though I guess we shouldn’t be surprised; it is the Oscars after all. What surprises me at this point is that I still care about any of this crap. Why am I writing about an award ceremony that is basically a glamorized publicity stunt held in a shopping mall that is so out of touch it considered “The Darkest Hour” one of the best films of the year? I say it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and let the Oscars
go. Instead of complaining year after year about how irrelevant the Academy Awards are and claiming I do not care who wins what, I am going to just blot the Oscars from my mind.

So if you are like me and you think the Oscars are meaningless crap, let us put them behind us and not let a bunch of old white people tell us what the best films of the year are.

This article first appeared in the Friday, March 23, 2018, Edition of The Echo.