Written by Adam Markiewicz
The day the Oscar nominations were announced, I got in touch with Alex saying I wanted to write an article about how fucking pointless the Oscars are. I even wrote a first draft, which included examples of the being run by a bunch of morons (I’m still upset that Kevin Costner has an Oscar, but Hitchcock, Kubrick, Altman, Tarantino, PT Anderson and many others don’t). The article was fairly long and pretty pretentious, and when I finished it later on that day, I logged onto the various social networks and realized my article was now
There have been countless editorials and think pieces in the weeks since concerning the lack of diversity in the nominations. And I can’t disagree. I’ve heard both sides of this argument. That the Academy is racist (it is), and that maybe there just weren’t any black people who acted good in 2015 (which is kinda a racist thing to say). Stallone gets nominated for “Creed,” but not Michael B. Jordan (who played fucking Creed) or Ryan Coogler, the director, who I’m sure even Stallone would agree is directly responsible for him getting the
But this shouldn’t matter. For one, the Oscars really are useless, and in no way actually indicative of any kind of real achievement. Nominations for awards are sought much in the same way nominations of public office are. There’s lots of campaigning. Going to the right parties, meeting with the right people. If you’re someone like, say, Eddie Redmayne, and you take “daring” roles in which you play a disabled guy (“The Theory of Everything”) or a transgendered person (“The Danish Girl”), you’re ahead of the curve. You’ve heard the phrase “Oscar Bait.” Eddie Redmayne works almost exclusively in Oscar Bait. Because you can use the word “daring” when describing his nominated performances. That’s Oscar Bait in a nutshell. In the end, it doesn’t even matter if he was all that good in those roles. All that matters is that he looked daring and by even just nominating it looks like the Academy gives a shit.
Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing,” considered by many, many people to be a classic film, lost the year it was nominated. It lost to “Driving Miss Daisy.” Given Lee’s reputation as an egomaniac, you’d think this would still irk him. But Lee was recently quoted as saying “that film’s being taught in colleges, schools. No one is watching ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ now. So it also shows you that the work is what’s important because that’s what’s going to stand for years, not an award.”
And he’s right. I’m not sure I know anyone who even remembers “Shakespeare In Love,” but most people I know have seen “Saving Private Ryan.” “The English Patient” never made it out of the 90s, but “Fargo” is not only beloved, it’s been spun off into a popular and critically acclaimed television series.
Logically, this would indicate that the Oscars are – get this – NOT IMPORTANT. And focusing on the lack of diversity in the Oscars is extremely counterproductive. To quote Spike Lee again, “We’re chasing a guy down the field when he doesn’t even have the ball. The other guy is high-stepping in the end zone.” The problem isn’t with the Academy. It’s with the movie business as a whole.
Ask yourself this: when was the last time you saw a generic Hollywood movie with a black man as the lead? Or a woman? Are Asian people always doctors? Or Kung Fu masters? Can Arabs play anything other than terrorists or refugees?
When it was announced a year ago that Disney and Marvel would be taking over the Spider-Man franchise, there was a sizable group of fans that were hoping that perhaps this third reboot would change things up and bring in Mile Morales, an alternate universe version of Spider-Man who happens to be a person of color. Instead, we get yet another pasty white high school kid. Why the fuck can’t Spidey just get out of high school?!
Hollywood is a great place, as long as you’re a white dude. And the Academy, an organization made of industry insiders designed to award the industry, is made up almost entirely of old white dudes. The Academy isn’t the source of this lack of diversity, it’s just a representation of it.
There’s two things making the Oscars important right now. One is what’s made the award and ceremony so important for decades, and that’s the pretentious film snob. I don’t mean critics or anyone on the inside, I mean that guy you know who smirks when talking about Michael Bay but thinks the Duplass Brothers are the greatest thing to
happen to cinema ever. It’s these people who perpetuate this idea that The Oscars in any way represent actual achievement or are in any way a mark of quality. And, seriously, you ever talk to one of these guys? Holy fuck, are they ever smug.
The other thing is the accusations of racism. And to that I say: pick your battles. Fighting The Oscars is like putting a bandaid on a gaping head wound. It’s pointless. It’s doing nothing. You want to send a message to Hollywood? Stop going to movie starring white men. Think of the money you’ll save. You’ll never see another movie again!
Adam is a writer and illustrator for comics. He has created a number of original series for SubHero Productions, a publication company that he founded in 2011, including Trench Coat Samurai and Defenders of the Lost World. He has also done some work for the Image Comics series Nailbiter, and he does a lot pinup art as well. Follow him on twitter @AdManComics