The Oscars And The Politicization Of Everything
Critics and film journalists are expecting “La La Land” to walk away with Best Picture and Best Director tomorrow night at the Academy Awards.
Since the film premiered in Venice last fall, the film has been praised left and right for it’s charm, visual extravagance, passionate music, emotional impact, and joyous energy in an anxiety-ridden post-Trump America.
Now, on the eve of the Oscars, the film has somehow been bastardized into some sort of a win for Trump’s America.
There’s always a backlash.
And it makes no sense.
“Moonlight”, a great film, is considered the movie that should win by many because of its powerful resonance in today’s times.
Although it’s a great thing for art to be analyzed, I feel the politicizing and tearing apart of nearly everything in our culture is getting out of hand.
If you didn’t like “La La Land”, no problem.
To each his or her own.
Taste is subjective.
However, the idea that La La Land is racist or sexist is totally absurd and stupid.
As someone who is to the left politically, I think this is indicative of the shallow, hyper-political correctness that has permeated American culture.
It’s gone too far.
The series of clickbait articles about whether or not it is racist that Ryan Gosling’s character, as a white male, wants to save jazz is unbelievably stupid.
Yes, jazz originated as a black art form in New Orleans, where I’m from, but white people like jazz, too.
And many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time were white, and made major contributions to this type of music.
Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Herbie Mann, Gerry Mulligan, just to name a few.
Gosling’s character is not a “white savior”.
He just has such an appreciation for traditional jazz, he wants to open up a club that honors it.
I won’t even engage the articles that claim Gosling “mansplains” too much or that Emma Stone’s character isn’t enough of a feminist, because it’s just not worth it.
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This year has seen an improvement in regards to diversity in film.
Films nominated for Oscars this year include “Moonlight”, “Fences”, “Hidden Figures”, “Loving”.
All of these films deal somehow with race in America.
Other documentaries nominated are “O.J. Made in America”, “13th”, and “I am Not Your Negro”.
These docs also deal with race issues in America, and one of them will win best documentary on Oscar night.
So what if “La La Land” has two white leads?
As Jerry Seinfeld puts it when speaking out against political-correctness in comedy: “People think it’s the census or something…this has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America?”
The same can be applied to film.
Does every race and ethnicity need to be present in every film?
Does every ethnic box need to be checked off when telling a story?
Liberals needs to stop crying wolf.
Not everything is racist.
Not everything is sexist.
Political correctness is diluting the impact of the equality movement that currently needs to be more powerful and dignified than ever.
This is not to say that there is not a problem of diversity in Hollywood.
There is a well documented lack of minority directors and behind the scene staffers and that is a real systemic problem.
But while that is a problem, does that mean that we can’t enjoy anything until there is total parity?
“Moonlight” is a very good film, but should not be considered the better film simply because it is about identity politics.
This is “ideology trumping aesthetics”, as writer Bret Easton Ellis would call it.
This is the message of a movie, or what it portrays socio-politically, being held in higher regard than the actual craft of the filmmaking.
Just because a film has a good message or has political resonance doesn’t mean it’s a good film.
Luckily, “Moonlight” is also excellent, but that’s what it should be judged on.
Giving the Best Picture Oscar to “Moonlight” to spite Trumpism shouldn’t be the goal here.
If it does win, that’s great, and I’d be happy.
But the message that the win would send to America is a byproduct, not the primary reason it should be voted for.
This Oscars will be political.
Speech after speech will reference the Trump Presidency.
I reject Trump, didn’t vote for him, and agree with most liberal values.
But I also understand the disdain felt by working class Americans towards the liberal elite telling them what they should or shouldn’t believe.
There are issues and concerns related to jobs and trade that don’t effect many of those in Hollywood.
The fact of the matter is, none of the anti-Trump speeches given at the Oscars will have any effect.
None of it will make waves.
It is preaching to the choir.
Voters across the country make their political decisions based on the issues and concerns happening in their immediate environment.
What a celebrity says has no effect.
It is up to the left and political leaders to address those concerns, and change to course of this country.
Stop putting it on the movies.
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Cover Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)