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The politics of the Oscars

I tried to watch the Oscars. I really did. But I got bored. I did catch Monique's win for best supporting actress, however, with its odd argument that her win showed the Oscars could rise above the politics. I found that a bit confusing: By all accounts, Precious deserves its acclaim, but it also seems like the sort of movie you give awards to if you're, well, taking into account the politics. So I appreciated this BloggingHeads in which Latoya Peterson offers some context for Monique's remarks.

Anyway, the Oscars certainly won the Oscar for most overlong television program I watched this year. This is their umpteenth award in that category.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 8, 2010; 7:20 AM ET
 
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Comments

Yeah, I've just never understood the fascination with watching awards shows. All the decisions have already been made. The drama of finding out the winners is completely artificial. The best you can hope for are a few passably funny moments from the host. My fiancee told me the winners this morning and I got everything I wanted.

On a related note, man, The Blind Side was terrible. Well, terrible might be too strong. It was thoroughly conventional and if it wasn't "based on a true story" it would be quickly forgotten like all the other generic sports movies. It's the only movie nominated for Best Picture that I think really didn't deserve the recognition.

Posted by: MosBen | March 8, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

long ago, i stopped watching the oscars.
i tuned in for about four minutes, and most of that time, was devoted to whoopie goldberg, doing an absurd and truly embarrassing commercial for female incontinence.
is there any private situation left in american life that cant exploited in primetime?
the new slogan, is "one in three," and i guess the paper and pharmaceutical corporations have decided, female incontinence is where the money is, along with penile dysfunction.
which one of the presenters, in her diaphonous chiffon dress, was the "one in three?" good lord.
and then, the oscars...
a self-congratulatory, pretentious group of insiders who reward themselves, very often for mediocrity...and take large bonuses, just like at goldman sachs and elsewhere.
young women wearing mcqueen shoes that look no different than the bondaged bandaging of the feet of chinese girls years ago, and that is the new definition of glamour, for this year.
shoes that reach new and higher levels of self=destruction....now, young women can copy that new fashion trend at pay-less.
some of the older stars who appeared, are almost unrecognizable with years of plastic surgery, and the oscars is the ultimate showcase for youth and beauty...at any cost, in this country.

perhaps it was never any different....but it doesnt help our culture to see these people treated and congratulated as "royalty," because they are rich and beautiful.
is it the rags to riches thing? is it that some people become elevated by fate, to give people the belief in some kind of "magic?"
i suppose it has always been this way.
but our culture is so affixed on the "tinsel," and on the "illusion" that this is the kind of success that is really transformative...when hollywood is just another incarnation of goldman sachs.
it is a cermeonial ritual that feels stale and old, but like the superbowl, i suppose, these are our culture's heroes, and it will go on forever.
for some.
there was a rainbow over my house at the time of the red carpets....and i am so thankful that i didnt miss it!

Posted by: jkaren | March 8, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I have never understood why I should be the slightest bit interested in the awards the movie industry gives to itself.

Posted by: Virginia7 | March 8, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

No kidding, Virginia7. It's especially uninteresting as the awards have become as much about giving movies a second run in theaters as it has rewarding high quality film making.

Posted by: MosBen | March 8, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Ezra...Ezra....you really need a life, man. The few public comments regarding the Oscars....past and present, I gather...could have just tuned out to watch a Law and Order re-run or something. Although I did note that the fiance was thrilled when told her shows came through, just as she thought. How dull people can be.
As for the two talking heads on the unnecessary talking blog, I dislike folks making pseudo-intellectual comments when they have no idea what the hell they are talking about......hell, I guess they belong to the Questionable Generation...full of sound, fury, and bs, signifying nothing.

Anyway, Ezra, lighten up.....there is more to life than drilling, and drilling, and drilling.

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 8, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The Oscars have outlived their time - They are just a fashion parade by the so-called stars who spend thousands and thousands on their frilly, outrageous gowns. When we have thousands of homeless, this is a disgrace. Who really cares about these egotistical idiots from Hollywood? Most of them are just a bunch of air heads who have no morals and their writers have absolutely no morals. It's time Hollywood got back to good, clean movies where you can sit and watch them with your children and not be embarrassed by the nudity, sex, cussing and violence. The new batch of young, immoral writers and directors grew up with a video stick in his hand and has the intelligence of a teen ager who hasn't fully grown yet. I hope the whole industry fades away and people will start refusing to pay $10 to get into a show and $7.50 for a tub of popcorn just so these idiots can make millions of dollars for flaunting their stuff on the screen.

Posted by: Meeche1 | March 8, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Aside to JKaren....jeeez, I never would have thought of dragging Goldman Sachs into this discussion of the Oscars.....I think I will make a movie!!!!!! Thanks.

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 8, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Meeche1......I guess you don't like the "morals" of the folks who make movies, and I guess your determination is based on personal knowledge of these folks? (Man, they are out there today, aren't they?)

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 8, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

" I never would have thought of dragging Goldman Sachs into this discussion of the Oscars....."


how could you not?
hollywood=money.
how different is it a place from wall street?

Posted by: jkaren | March 8, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I would rather have a Oscar Mayer Wiener on a bun then watch the Liberal Oscars..

Posted by: yokohlman | March 8, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The Oscars are held so that those who made movies can write off the cost of a big party and a drunken bash. They take too long to view every nominee's role for the viewers, when it is unnecessary. The votes were cast a week before the show and all they really need to do is show a picture of the person in the role for which they were nominated and announce the winners. The show could be cut in half and still have time for thanking mom, dad, the dog, the paper carrier, and all of those high school teachers who pushed the nominee to greatness. And we could see a few commercials along the way, also.

Posted by: ronjeske | March 8, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm hardly a right wing Hollywood basher, but I havent watched the Oscars since 1999, and my streak remains intact through last night's annual orgy of self-congratulation.

Although I did very much enjoy the Twitter remarks of people I follow(corcoran310) while watching Tom Brokaw talk about Boomers, and a special biography they ran about Home Depot.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | March 8, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Yup, Oscars are boring. With each passing year they are loosing more audience in America and gaining more in rest of the world. If that is the kind of 'export promotion' event for jobs in Hollywood, I am fine with it - even if I do not watch, let the party continues. Otherwise indeed they are quite boring...

Talking about politics the winnings of 'The Hurt Locker' are quite political too:
- Academy wants to show that they do not fall for the antics of Cameron regardless of phenomenal commercial success of Avatar,
- Hollywood continues it's tradition of elevating 'war related movies'.
There is tremendous sense of 'grown ups see through grass commercialization of Movies and want to sustain the position of Movie art where it is still relevant to American life' (i.e. war).

Is this self patting wrong? I do not know and I do not care.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 8, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

God, Ezra's commenters are getting stranger and stranger.

Posted by: OSheaman | March 8, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

One more take - Oscars is the Hollywood's way of making 'statements' about our collective Political Progress. (Case in point - a lady director is due for the top prize etc.; next year there will be one more taboo to break...)

This is happening without election, on the basis of some privileged aristocracy of Movie Making business; Academy members who decide the winners. Why would any 'politico' type like such usurpation of core political duty by these un-democratic means? Hence Ezra, so many other commenter on this site and myself; inherently do not like Oscars.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 8, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure whether Ezra ended up getting it or not, but some of the commenters clearly did not: the "politics" that Monique referred to are the behind-the-scenes efforts to woo voters into voting for you. They have nothing to do with Democrats, Republicans, or Sen. Lieberman.

Posted by: byronhauck | March 8, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Meeche1, I may be wrong, but my impression was that many/most of the fancy outfits strutted on the red carpet are provided to the stars for free (or rented to them for free) because of all the free advertising it gets the designer.

As to your arguments about the quality of fims these days, some of the first films made were somewhat sexual in nature. It is standards of society which have changed and the racy movies of yesterday seem tame from our modern perspective. That doesn't mean there hasn't always been cluck clucking from very concerned people about the state of cinema. And in a year when Pixar's Up is nominated for Best Picture I don't think the arguments about there not being enough movies to watch with your kids carries much weight.

unmesh409, I generally agree, except as to Bigelow winning best director. The Hurt Locker and Precious were the two best films nominated in the best director category and either would have been a historic win, as these things go. The thing I hate is when the Academy gives an award to someone who has gone unrecognized in past years, or who they really like personally feel this might be their best chance to give them an award, even if they don't really deserve it for this particular film. See Denzel Washington for the former, Sandra Bullock for the latter.

Posted by: MosBen | March 8, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, I too was confused about Monique's claim that her award was even sweeter because it meant the Academy was discounting the 'politics.' My reaction was, "wait, this is the same Academy that gave the Best Picture Award to Crash, for Christ's sake."

Turns out, she was talking about the internal politics of Hollywood. From Chud.com's live blog: "I love that Mo'Nique called out everybody who got so hung up on the politics of nominees kissing ass in the awards season. She didn't do the usual circuit, and all the pundits said it would hurt her. Guess not. It's refreshing to see the Academy award a performance, not a campaign."

Posted by: NickKilstein | March 8, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The Hurt Locker - yes, I intend to watch; my DVD will be coming from Netflix. I have absolutely no qualms about Bigelow winning the award. I enjoyed Avatar, but for sure was disappointed by extremely weak story; so never fancied that it would win much awards.

Avatar is strictly a 'business' and that is doing well regardless of what happened yesterday.

Good movies - there are many better critics and I will simple follow some of those.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 8, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

We watched all four hours, and applaud the Hurt Locker's win. Its always good to show sacrifice, and America loves her soldiers.
Monique accepted her win, but there is always that comment from African-Americans which indicates the ideology of victims. We're the downtrodden--its about time we got ours. In reality, Hollywood has turned itself inside out trying to satisfy minorities. It does no good. Gowns were beautiful. Shoes (stilts) were so awful that foot surgery will probably result eventually.

Posted by: drzimmern1 | March 8, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I noticed a clip with some dude saying, "I coulda been a contender." Anyone know who the actor was, or what movie that was from?

Posted by: randrewm | March 8, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

@randrewm:

Quote from 'On the Waterfront', by Marlon Brando.

Posted by: jobless3 | March 8, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

jobless3:
I was mocking Ezra, who showed the clip a few days ago on this blog and said something like "I didn't know that's where 'I coulda been a contender' came from."

Posted by: randrewm | March 8, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

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