Someone once said, “My life is a movie, and everyone’s watching” (that someone is Justin Bieber, but bare with me). The sentiments of this quote have been rattling around in my brain since I first read about the controversy brewing over this year’s Academy Awards. Once again, the Academy finds itself on the wrong end of Civil Rights groups, social media commentators, and Jada Pinkett-Smith in its decision not to nominate a single person of color in any of the major categories.
People have been screaming that the Academy has whitewashed the Oscars again and even it’s black host, Chris Rock, was forced to comment on the controversy. As a Blasian (black and Asian) male, I was confused by my seeming lack of reaction to all of this controversy. As someone that prides himself with keeping up on pop culture and social media, I should be the first one crying out against the seeming racism of the system. However, I simply do not care. I had to step back from that thought for a bit because it was kind of startling. I do not care whether or not the Academy of Motion Pictures nominates or not nominates minorities for awards. Then I realized another important point, I do not care about the Academy of Motion Pictures.
This establishment of individuals (this fact is completely uncorroborated, it might be a computer system for all I know) has taken it upon itself to judge the movies of the past year with an unknown set of criterion and then, year after year, not give Leonardo DiCaprio a gold statue.
All jokes aside, who makes up this Academy? Can I vote on who represents my motion picture interests? Can I at least understand how they arrive at their decisions? At this point, all of their processes are pretty much in the dark, left only for the super sleuths and movie buffs to dig up.
Basically, the Oscars have boiled down to a night-long snooze fest with hopes that some celebrity will fall down or say something especially dramatic or off-color. The last time I heard one of my friends say that we need to see a movie that was Academy Award nominated was…never! I do not care whether or not this archaic body finds this particular group of movies impactful or fascinating. I rely on my own sensibilities and opinions and do what most of society does to decide what they see in theaters: watch the trailer. If the trailer is done right, it should tease me enough to make me want to see the movie.
There are several movies from this past year that did just that and one of them is a film that got zero awards: Straight Outta Compton. Now, most people would say that this is an example of the Academy being racist; however, I disagree. I think this is an example of the Academy being old-fashioned in its views of what film is in the modern age; this film is the essence of pop culture and touches upon many aspects of a particularly volatile period of history. This is definite Oscar bait if I have ever seen any. Instead, the Academy nominated Bridge of Spies for an award. This is the essence of middle-aged cinema, bait for the NCIS-watcher keeping CBS afloat in the ratings. This is the kind of movie that appeals to the Academy because it resonates with old, archaic sensibilities. Let me be clear, Bridge of Spies shares an important story about an important part of American history, but it thrills in a slow-burning way that doesn’t connect with the energy and passion of today’s media.
So, maybe, Jada, we shouldn’t boycott the Academy awards. Maybe we should show up and take an interest. Maybe if more people under the age of 50 watched the whole thing they would wise up and realize that young people care about movies and that we deserve a voice on this illustrious panel. I put my hand up for nomination to the Academy of Motion Pictures! I put my hand up for my voice to be heard so that the movies that I watch can have their day. I put my hand up so that they can stop saying millennials are entitled and whine about everything; I’m ready to be put to work judging movies. Vin Diesel, you might just get that Oscar nomination yet!