This year’s Oscars ceremony was many things. To some, it was a delight, a ceremony that celebrated and awarded the marginalized. To others, it was a bore, the comedy was drier than a popcorn fart and Hollywood culture is often repelling.
And to many, it was nonexistent. Only 26.5 million viewers, the lowest rating yet!
I personally blame that on the slow death of TV. Who owns cable these days? Everything’s Netflix or Hulu or Amazon, you know, all the digital happy meals we’ve grown so accustomed to with the rise of the digital world. Except it’s not your body getting lumpy, lethargic and ugly, it’s your mind and character.
Sure the ratings dropped, 25.6 million is a really low number in comparison to the U.S. population of 330+ million, let alone all the people watching from other parts of the world, but why should we care? It’s simple, this year’s Oscars was a clear glimpse to the future. One that promise wonderful changes but at what cost?
Let’s take a quick walk through the most important parts of the 2018 Oscars.
The ‘Inclusion Rider’, Politics & Social Justice:
“It’s a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film’s cast and crew.” Writes Colin Dwyer in a thorough NPR report on the subject.
What’s striking about this moment is the call-to-arms approach for inclusivity and representation, even if the “Inclusion Rider” suggestion is so far a hint at a policy and not a real one. Yet. Contract-based resistance would be the starting point; actors, actresses, sound directors…etc. would all have the proper legal language within their contracts to enforce the need for a multi-representational environment in the film’s production. Whether in cast or crew or both.
And we all know who this needs to start with, right? White men.
Anyone in a position of privilege and power would be a good start. Trickle down economics doesn’t work but perhaps trickle down resistance will. In any social situation, those in power have the voice and the ability to be heard.
On to the next. My man Common, once again, kills it with his trademark subtle and minimalist lyrics that hit harder than my mother with a belt. One of the many disciplinary methods of a Middle Eastern mother.
While performing the Oscar-nominated song Stand Up For Something from the movie Marshall, Common and Andra Day invited 10 activists to share the stage.
Here’s the list:
- Alice Brown Otter (Standing Rock Youth Council)
- Bana Alabed (author and Syrian refugee)
- Bryan Stevenson (Equal Justice Initiative)
- Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood Action Fund)
- Dolores Huerta (Dolores Huerta Foundation, United Farm Workers of America)
- Janet Mock (#GirlsLikeUs),
- José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup)
- Nicole Hockley (Sandy Hook Promise)
- Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter)
- Tarana Burke (Me Too).
“On Oscar night, this is the dream we tell/ A land where Dreamers live and freedom dwells/ Immigrants get the benefits/ We put up monuments for the feminists/ Tell the NRA they in God’s way/ And to the people of Parkland, we say “ashay”/ Sentiments of love for the people/ From Africa, Haiti to Puerto Rico.” Common opened up with a quick freestyle, keeping Hollywood a bit more woke than usual on Sunday.
Common kept it real and classy as has become expected of his artistry. With references to the rise of women’s rights (not there yet, I know, I know) and Colin Kapernick’s #TakeAKnee stunt that shook President Trump into calling him a “son of a bitch,”, caused an uproar among republicans and conservatives alike. Trump regularly took to Twitter, jeering the ceremony’s low rates along with Tomi Lahren and Joe Walsh.
Another important moment throughout the ceremony was Weinstein’s accusers sharing the same stage. Salma Hayek Pinault, Annabella Sciorra and Ashley Judd presented a montage about women in film. A powerful and historic moment for women across the globe.
There were many other similar moments throughout the ceremony, moments where political statements and social commentary added to the overall tone of this year’s Oscars. At one point Kumail Nanjiani sent his support to DACA recipients saying “to all the dreamers out there, we stand with you,” and at another, presenter Jimmy Kimmel aimed a joke at Vice President Mike Pence, Putin and rigged elections.
There were several occasions where political, social and racial commentary was the prime subject which leads me to what you’ve all been waiting for.
The Yousefian Rundown:
Hollywood is facing an ideological shift towards the ideals of what many would label progressive liberalism. I think if Hollywood changes, its powerful impact in the shaping of other cultures will provide a mimicked result. Hollywood tells you blondes are hot and desirable, you believe so; Hollywood tells you blacks and minorities are comic relief, you believe so; Hollywood tells you to jump, you say how high?
It’s that simple. What troubles me, as always, is approaching a problem with an undefinable solution which is why I think Francis McDormand’s “Inclusion Riders” commentary is so important. Talk is cheap and policies are hard to implement, let alone the evasive nature of thinking of a valid policy.
We have many social stake holders to consider, many issues to address and many voices that are unheard, often silenced by the status quo. Before my attempt at a plausible commitment for social change, I’d like to share a few thoughts:
The world, for the last 10 years at least, has been twisting and turning with our human affairs. We’ve seen regions shift their social ideologies, we’ve seen regions slowly deteriorate from political turmoil and we’ve seen populism come out the sewers in retaliation to unorganized change. These views are my own but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you can easily relate.
During the Oscars, I couldn’t help but think to myself: what are the long term effects to the changes all these privileged liberal celebrities are fighting for?
Change comes at a price, I believe, if the change itself is poorly organized and is assumed to take place of the previous status quo simply because all these angry plebiscites may very well be the majority voice. And I believe every decent human regardless of identity would argue all the changes hinted at or spoken about in the Oscars are necessary in the modern world.
Say for instance, we implement a policy that encourages more diversity in film making. What could possibly go wrong because what’s so bad with more representation? I think with the rightful entitlement of the oppressed, an entitlement that’s once recognized and fought for results in an atrocious treatment of said oppressed, can and will go wrong if concessions aren’t made.
It’s a horrible thought, isn’t it. Mr. Reformist wants more inclusivity by any means necessary, the admirable but mistaken Malcolm X approach. That reconstruction will go haywire in no time, I promise you that. If we don’t include those who oppose us and flat out reject us, often in an uncivilized manner, we will lose the long term sustainability of our desired changes.
Those are my two cents on the issue. It’s sad, I know. Mama said I can have all the candy and I’m gonna eat it all in the playground tomorrow, every bully is gonna die of jealousy. It doesn’t work that way. The bullies will eat you and your candy.
With any new policy, especially one that challenges the very beliefs of the old ways, compromises must be made and concessions must be made. Keep the enemy’s hunger satisfies as to not upset the gradual reign of the new ways. Visit Rome’s history and the assassination of Julius Caesar if I’m not being clear about this.
Feed the bully, just a little bit. It’ll keep you and your candy safe in the long run.
Until next time, my lovelies.