As a filmmaker, the Oscars should be my Superbowl - an exciting and nostalgic tradition where the best in the industry battle for a night of glory and a place in history. A night in which my fellow cinephiles and I gather ‘round the tube, comparing winners and losers of years prior, cheering for righteous victors, groaning for unjustified losers, throwing mockery at hopelessly antiquated musical numbers and Hee Haw-level comic banter between presenters. And most importantly, celebrating the transformative power of film.
Last month, the Academy had a calamity on their hands when official selectee, actor and comedian Kevin Hart, was taken to task for homophobic tweets dating from a decade ago. Wherever your opinion lands on that controversy, Hart’s obstinacy in the matter meant he was out, leaving the Academy to scramble messily for a host that would tick an ever-increasing amount of boxes: What celebrity appeals to all age demos, doesn’t host any other awards shows, isn’t attached to another network’s identity, and doesn’t have a history of controversial behavior or opinions? That leaves two options: Tim Conway (who is dead), and no one.
When Robert de Niro or Meryl Streep yell “Fuck Trump” on broadcast television, they give a narcissistic manchild exactly what he wants. You’d figure professional attention whores could grasp that simple concept.
The fetishizing of Hollywood is a cheap cologne thrown over the powerful stench rightly exposed by the Me Too movement. The glamour and spectacle of professional moviemaking loses its luster after learning of the serial predations of Kevin Spacey or Bill Cosby, and of a professional culture that enables those horrors. Hollywood’s history has long been littered with such scandals - Fatty Arbuckle and Roman Polanski are obvious examples - but we’re not out of the woods yet, and circle jerks like the Oscars do these movements no favors.
Between the Academy’s embarrassingly public scrambling for a host; humiliating the industry’s less commonly known but equally important contributors; the powerfully misguided soapboxing, the woefully obsolete presentation; and the impenetrable wall of “ain’t the movies just swell, kid” bullshit layered on top of it all like refried beans in a cold burrito, I am massively disincentivized from watching the Oscars this year.
(In the event that I am ever nominated for an Academy Award, please scrub this article from the internet. Thank you in advance.)