' Cinema Romantico: To Cancel the Oscars or Not to Cancel the Oscars

Monday, February 06, 2017

To Cancel the Oscars or Not to Cancel the Oscars

What if no one showed up?
When it was announced that Asghar Farhadi, the exceptional Iranian filmmaker whose “The Salesmen” was just nominated for a Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar, would boycott the upcoming Academy Awards in light of the fact that he might not even be allowed to enter the U.S. in the first place given President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees, the calls for cancelling the ceremony entirely were inevitable. “Here’s a suggestion,” tweeted film critic Glenn Kenny in the aftermath of the Farhadi news, “in solidarity with Asghar Farhadi, cancel the Oscars. Refuse to ‘entertain’ under these conditions.” Dana Stevens Tweeted something similar. Todd VanDerWerff took the baton at Vox and wrote a full length piece titled, simply, “Cancel the Oscars.” And even if VanDerWerff confessed that the “Oscars probably won’t be canceled” given the money and contracts at stake, which always override everything else, he was pretty adamant in his belief that mere televised protests between bouts of regularly scheduled Oscar fluff wouldn’t be enough. He had some suggestions. Those suggestions led to a roundtable at The AV Club and Slate inevitably offering its variation of You’re Protesting Wrong, and so on and so forth.

Academy-styled protest always makes me think of Steve Martin’s line when he hosted in 2003. In the aftermath of Iraq War II commencing, the Oscar powers that be decided to put away the red carpet. “That’ll show ‘em!” Steve Martin declared in an immaculate deadpan. True. What are the Oscars if not frivolity turned up to Eleven? Of course, I often like to quote Nicole Kidman winning Best Actress at those same Oscars and wondering why they were there and citing the importance of art. That’ll get a few eyerolls, sure, and the more time that passes the more I realize the Oscars themselves are less about art, per se, even if I do agree whole-heartedly that art is important and is worth celebrating. And that is why I might suggest, hey, ABC, make an exception and just show “La La Land” and “Moonlight” and “Finding Dory” back to back to back in lieu of the ceremony. The Oscars don’t matter, wrote raconteur Richard Brody in the wake of their nomination announcement, but the movies do. If Trump gets to watch “Finding Dory” for free while the world is going to hell then let us do it too!

That’s not feasible, I know. So, what is? We Liberal Snowflakes™ adored Meryl Streep’s call for empathy at the Golden Globes, even as she un-empathetically lambasted football and MMA, though many naturally crowed that it didn’t accomplish anything, though it did accomplish something by leading to a surge in donations for the Committee to Protect Journalists (which Streep name checked), though no doubt those who crowed that Streep’s speech didn’t accomplish anything would tell you the Committee to Protect Journalists is just protecting the FAKE NEWS of the Mainstream Press and {zzzzzzzzzz). But hey, donations are a good thing. Maybe all the nominees could get together and pledge that whoever wins uses their speech solely to cite the ACLU and CAIR and Planned Parenthood, etc. Maybe the curtain is thrown open as the telecast begins and George Clooney and Julia Roberts are standing there and suddenly we realize the entire telecast is now actually going to be a telethon. Maybe the four (five? six?) hours scheduled could just be blacked out with a Donate Here icon on the screen. Maybe midway through the usual pomp and circumstance the cackling visage of Tom Arnold suddenly shows up on screen, Shosanna Dreyfus style, as he vengefully unleashes the secret Apprentice tapes of Trump on an unsuspecting America.


And let’s be honest, protesting or shouting from the pulpit with a statue in hand, let alone cancelling the Oscars, isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about anything. If you wanted to donate to CAIR to begin with, you probably would; if you thought CAIR was a terrorist organization to begin with, a plea on the organization’s behalf by Scarlett Johansson ain’t making a damn bit of difference. Scan any bastion of interwebs conservatism and you will find their response in the wake of this cry for cancelling the Oscars is simply to laugh at all the Cosmopolitan Intellectual Elites taking each other’s work in movies “no one has seen” so seriously. I assure you, the majority of them think it’s pretty damn funny that we are wringing our hands over a ceremony they generally do not care about in the best of times. Cancel the whole soiree and they will fill social media with emojis of “libturd tears.”

Of course, what I find funny is that a lot of leftist pushback against the Academy Awards is not dissimilar to rightist pushback. Seriously, scrolling through Twitter during any recent Oscar telecast would have shown Liberal Snowflakes™ making a lot of the same sorts of jokes that young conservatives are making in the wake of this Cancel the Oscars hullabaloo - you know, the rampant back-patting, prima donnas thanking their agents, millionaires and their bags of swag, self-indulgent montages, etc. We are not so different, them and us. The Oscars have always existed as a dumping ground for so much of what so many who follow Hollywood so closely abhor about the industry and they have always existed as a dumping ground for so much of what so many who hate Hollywood so much abhor about the industry and those who follow it. So why cancel the Oscars?!

Why not let them go on as usual, with anyone wanting to make a statement making a statement, and Jimmy Kimmel functioning as a typical Oscar host, left to founder an impossible job, becoming our divided nation’s scapegoat for one evening, symbolically burdened with our leftist and rightist vitriol, momentarily uniting in the common cause of an unfunny enemy. And then in the morning, while he’s flipping between Fox News and CNN (which he doesn’t watch anymore), Trump can fire off a few tweets about the couple jokes directed at his vainglory by Kimmel and tweet some patented gobbledygook about Kimmel being overrated and then we can all sigh loudly and re-engage with our ongoing national cold war.


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