For anyone complaining about the racial and political content of the Sunday, February 28, Academy Awards telecast: even an apolitical show, the type the Oscars usually present, is political, as in pro-quo, as in supporting the status quo. If the host, the African-American comedian Chris Rock, had said nothing about race or racism, that would have implied his support for the Motion Picture Academy’s white supremacy.
I watched his opening monologue, which I’d call the harshest, most hard-hitting one ever heard at the Oscars. The predominantly-white and -wealthy audience sitting in that theater may have laughed at his jokes about rape, lynching, and cops who shoot black people, but how would the audience have reacted if he had questioned the movies’ pro-corporate messages (except for the rare flick such as The Big Short, no Bernie-style economic content ever appears in mainstream productions); or the movies’ reactionary politics (especially regarding law enforcement); or the movies’ on-screen sexism (most Prestigious Motion Pictures are sausage fests); or the movies’ off-screen sexism (an infinitesimal amount of female directors, execs, et cetera)?
Also, in his monologue, Rock stated that Oscar-diversity activists had nothing more serious to protest. According to him, they should have lived through the age of Jim Crow terror and thus had some real worries, as if activists can pay attention to only one cause at a time; or as if police violence, mass incarceration, economic inequality, and right-wing racism count as minor inconveniences. His remarks remind me of my mother’s bitter and frequent assertion that today’s kids were spoiled rotten and thus needed to live through the Depression to experience true pain and deprivation; only past generations have known actual suffering.
Anyway, I mostly stopped watching the telecast after its opening, causing me to miss Rock’s–and Sacha Baron Cohen’s–cracks about Asians. Goody–the status quo lives. Someone must have felt that viewers needed some non-Caucasian and non-Negro group to ridicule, to avoid the bummer of (gasp!) political correctness, a bummer that might have made viewers less enthusiastic about spending money, hurting the advertisers who had paid millions to air their commercials during the awards, as if no Asians watch the Oscars or buy anything. Obviously no Asians have any power in Hollywood, right?
Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews