Contractually Obligated Thoughts About the 2018 Academy Awards

Two days late, I received an automated message purporting to be a “friendly reminder” from an international content generating conglomerate that stated if I was hedging political opinions and relationships with other human beings based on strongly held beliefs I got from movies, I’m supposed to comment on the outcome of the Academy Awards.

It doesn’t matter that a former Donald Trump campaign aide that he originally met as a five year-old boy at Wrestlemania got shitfaced on television last night, vowing to resist a grand jury subpoena.

I saw Get Out a year ago and I’ve got a few things I want to get off my chest about it and the time for that is 59 hours after the last time any of it will be relevant. I might even watch that movie Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both won for before I write the rest of this. The fish guy movie? I didn’t see it, but in twelve hours after I shape up a couple of defense issues in my present Rimworld  save, I might have a couple of strong opinions about it if I can keep myself away from my rewatch of the third season of Oz.

The Oscars are pretty irrelevant to me in the sense that the best film of 2017 was cut up into hour-long segments from 18 hours and aired on Sundays on Showtime in the form of Twin Peaks: The Return. I’m upset I wasn’t “here for it” because I have a lot of things to say about it, but I’m planning a rewatch in the summer and will probably have a lot of dumb insight other people did a year ago.

One film I did see featured predominantly in the Oscar nominations list was Ladybird, which I hated. That’s a strong word. I felt pandered to, and in “quirky” movies initially critically lauded, I’ve recognized this as a trait in films that don’t age well. Garden State comes to mind as does Juno. A good soundtrack and a couple of “it kids” is not everything a movie makes. As someone who on no level of demographic surprise enjoys the films of Noah Baumbach, I was really excited about the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig and it was just underwhelming to me. I say that as someone who can very much relate to the source material.

Ladybird came away largely empty-handed, and I was also pleased to see Blade Runner 20fortysomething clean house on the technical level. I’m still worried with the success of a mediocre, middling Star Wars film, a movie like Blade Runner 2049 is going to keep getting harder to make. Smart science fiction is going to prove itself to vital to how society looks at change in the world, and I think that’s evidenced by a series like Black Mirror.

Which brings me to Get Out and Jordan Peele winning the Oscar for best original screenplay. I really enjoyed this movie when I saw it a year ago in the theater. It felt subversive, interesting, and a refreshing take on what a horror film can be. As a person who saw Killmonger’s plot in Black Panther as basically a “I’m not really seeing why this guy is the villain here” sort of situation, it’s obvious that the message of Get Out was something I thought was socially relevant and done in a way that is supposed to challenge the views of an already sympathetic audience, something I always find refreshing.

People with a lot worse intentions than me are going to wring hands about how political Oscar picks are and they’ll mask racism, sexism, etc behind a desire for “the process to be objective” and “about art.” For funsies, I’ll bite at the actual intentions of that argument in regards to this situation: Get Out was a really fun B-movie that I think could have done a lot for what a B-movie can be and what level of intellect and discourse one can function at and a lot of that is dashed by giving Jordan Peele the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

That isn’t to say he doesn’t deserve it in any capacity, good for him and congratulations. It’s an excellent film. However, by elevating a solid B-Movie to High Art status by including it prominently in the Academy, which perhaps after this year hasn’t earned its prestige, there’s a certain She’s All That factor at play here that I find a little tokenizing. Was the movie elevated due to social relevancy, and does that poison the institution? Is that even such a bad thing, or does that depend on your agenda and which axes you’ve grinded over the years?

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There’s also a certain irony in watching an industry vilified even by its own participants all year as run by predatory rich white men hiding behind art, culture, and basic, through-the-motions left-wing political participation trying to pat itself on the back for being so “woke” and the reactions I’ve seen since reinforce this point. To use a quote from the film, is Peele winning Best Original Screenplay a way for the Academy to “vote for Obama a third time”? Does nobody else think that’s weird? Jordan Peele gets the Oscar and everyone goes “oh, obviously, America is so racist, yo,” which it is, but it’s handed out by an organization that for the last year has been exposed as this terribly racist environment that fosters a rape culture rivaling a fucking Mongol horde? There’s no way I’m the only person noticing the parallels you can draw from the actual film, right? A bunch of people trying to hijack black identity to preserve youth? Is this all just trash people trying to improve their image or was Get Out just that good? They’re going to talk about it, and that cheapens the impact a movie like this has by trying to sit it at the Big Kid’s Table.

I’m also worried just how far this shoves Jordan Peele’s head up his own ass, no disrespect intended. He’s slated to reboot The Twilight Zone, which although I love the original run, is a cursed property that deserves to stay in its era. Get Out winning Best Original Screenplay in 2018 is a lot like Starship Troopers coming out right after 9/11 and handing Paul Verhoeven a statue as Bush is bombing hospitals. I wonder how to keep an edge after that, especially since I feel like a lot of “walls” Jordan Peele has been breaking down since his sketch comedy show with Michael Key were knocked down pretty thoroughly by Dave Chappelle, a comparison I’m sure haunts him, you know, because Chappelle himself made it.

24_Gael_Garcia_BernalI’ll be honest, I watched highlight reels the next day because I’d been up for almost 24 hours and once I saw the absolute love of my life, Gael Garcia Bernal, sing a song (not very well? Was that whole thing intentional?) from Coco I was ready to call it a night. Dios mio, fuck, look at that guy. So goddamn cute. Yo Gael call up Diego Luna, let’s hit the road with a tackle box full of peyote and all kiss each other at the same time or something. I’m off Sunday-Tuesday. Goddamn. Llamame, papi.

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