Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscar Race, Part the Sixth: Hell Hath No Fury

Having given myself some sleep and a morning to recover from last night's upset, I remain FURIOUS at the Academy. I arrived at the Oscar party I attended last night announcing that should Crash win Best Picture I would personally go on an assassination mission to Los Angeles; apparently I'm going to have to eat my words. I think I'm going to start with hate-blogging, then move on to hate mail and take it from there.

My reasons for loathing Crash I have already written, but it needs to be emphasized once again that THIS FILM IS NOT HONEST ABOUT RACISM. In fact, THIS FILM IS NOT HONEST, PERIOD. Racism is much deeper than an open exchange of racial slurs and racially motivated violence. Racism is not about one-to-one correspondences of value between your good and your bad actions. Racism doesn't get neutralized because other people are also racist, or because you also love other people. The state of race relations in America is far more complex and far more insidious than that film is, and even if one attempts to take it as a parable, even if one chooses to ignore the idiocy of there being two cops on patrol in the entire city of Los Angeles and one Asian couple in the entire city of Los Angeles, even if one believes that the film was trying to show us the "essence" of American racism rather than a realistic portrait thereof, one still find the problem of neutralization. Actions exist in context, contexts like character or social life that extends beyond 48 hours of one's life, and without a true understanding of context there is no motivation, and without motivation any isolated act is as good or as bad as any other.

Bottom line: a film without characters cannot be honest. And anybody who thinks Crash had characters is projecting and deluding themselves.

Especially Roger Ebert.

Brokeback Mountain is an honest film. It may not be honest about Homophobia-with-a-capital-H, but it is honest about the story of its two characters, about the time and place and situation they live in, and how that changes and changes for each of them. I am not about to claim it as a perfect movie, though I think I found it the best of the nominees. But I'd rather honor a movie that made amazing artistic choices and succeeded with many of them that a movie that people who live in L.A. and sometimes experience racism voted for because it was set in L.A. and is about racism.

Friend upon friend, before and after the ceremony, has told me that the Oscars don't matter. And it's true that they take themselves far too seriously in the public eye, as evidenced by the inability of most members of the Academy to laugh at Jon Stewart when he mocked their elitism. The Oscars are fundamentally a system in which you're honored by your peers, and for some reason a lot of other people are interested in it too. But I'm ashamed of those peers, and they *do* have a responsibility to the other people who are watching for whatever reason. To reward Crash not only excuses but honors sloppy artistry and sloppy thinking. We should all have higher standards, even for a circle jerk.

3 Comments:

At 11:19 PM, Blogger meridity said...

"We should all have higher standards, even for a circle jerk."
-The Quotable Gemma, Third Edition

 
At 2:32 AM, Anonymous tyromaven said...

I don't want to give in to cynical cliche, but there was some well-documented coverage of a multi-million dollar campaign to promote Crash as an Oscar contender. More was spent on the campaign than was spent on making the movie. Defamer.com did some cheeky reportage regarding: the hope is that an Oscar win will increase DVD sales. Yup.

 
At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Mikey said...

I want to blame Hollywood for their embrace of this movie, but it's not their fault alone. As is my wont, I blame Oprah. She made one of her infallible pronouncements in favor of this movie, and I have little doubt that she had some influence in the movie's success.

Accord from the Oprah-bots on this matter was swift and blind (and hilarious), as is evidenced on her message board dedicated to this movie.

My favorite quote from a post:
"I went to this movie alone. On purpose. I brought lots of Puffs. And scheduled nothing before or after the viewing. I knew that I was about to face myself."

 

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