There’s a great line in “The Usual Suspects”: “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist”.
Exactly so. Real evil recedes into the background where it quietly corrupts everything it can. I’m not in any way saying the Oscars are evil. Absolutely not. But they play by movie rules — because, of course, the Oscars are a “movie creation”. The greatest trick AMPAS (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) ever pulled off, was convincing the world that they were “AN ACADEMY”.
This is from Wikipedia: “An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Academia is the worldwide group composed of professors and researchers at institutes of higher learning. The name traces back to Plato‘s school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece.”
The only part of that definition that applies to AMPAS is the “honorary membership” part. In no other way is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences an “academy”. Yes, yes — they’ve created training and workshops and lots of good things to further the cause of movies and movie-making (as a good marketing agency should). But they are NOT “an academy”.
If we look back at the actual history — at the Academy’s creation — who created it — and why — it’s pretty clear what the Academy’s founders were thinking.
Better yet, read what AMPAS itself says about its own founding…
Louis B. Mayer “…talked about creating an organized group to benefit the film industry”. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever — but the point of the exercise was publicity. Advertising. MARKETING.
At the time, don’t forget, the movie business was a teeny-tiny fraction of what it is today.
If you look at the core question being posed by having an “Academy Awards” — which one of these very different things (which actually defy comparison) is “best”? Best “how”? It’s entirely subjective. So entirely subjective that, if we actually were to stop and really think about it, we’d tell the Academy either to compare apples to apples (moves exactly like each other with movies exactly like each other) or at least admit that it’s asking its members to compare apples with Pontiacs with redwood forests with distant planets.
White, Christian men dominated the film business from its inception (to be fair — there were lots of Jews in the mix but those Jews were inventing a Christian version of America that would, maybe, accept them (hat tip to Neal Gabler’s very, very excellent book An Empire Of Their Own). As white, Christian men did with American politics, they imposed their will upon everyone else. The America they created, they hoped, would self-perpetuate.
Alas, a diverse and diversifying population did not go along to get along. Just as white people like to hear stories where white people are the heroes, so does every other group who aren’t white people. Except their stories almost never got told. That kinda perverted our sense of whose stories DESERVED to get told. We invented nonsense in our minds about whose stories were interesting to us and whose stories weren’t.
And when we told other peoples’ stories? We told them from OUR point of view — as if getting inside their heads and actually seeing the world through their eyes was too terrifying for us. The only reason no screenplay not written in English hadn’t won a screenwriting award before yesterday (as far as I know — being a long-standing WGA member) is that few if any had ever been submitted.
Similarly, Parasite won for best picture – shocking the shit out of people. Happily so. There’s a good chance Parasite can thank AMPAS’s expanding membership; they’ve been inviting lots more women and minorities to join. Parasite was a very un-traditional choice.
For an Academy that isn’t actually an academy, that is.
Last night — because Republicans can’t help being pigs — even when it really doesn’t matter — a RW-er named Jon Miller tweeted this: “A man named Bong Joon Ho wins #Oscar for best original screenplay over Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917. Acceptance speech was: “GREAT HONOR. THANK YOU.” Then he proceeds to give the rest of his speech in Korean. These people are the destruction of America.”
“The destruction of America” — that’s what this fool wrote — about a movie script winning a prize from the organization that flaks movies & movie scripts.
Dude — it’s just a damned MOVIE ffs…