Three Reasons I Won't Be Talking About the Oscars
The Academy Award nominations were announced this week. Usually I try to respond to the announcement with some sort of satirical piece in which I give awards to movies that, for political reasons, never got made. For instance, this year I might have celebrated the movie about the brave cop who stands up to charges of racism in order to bring down a Muslim rape ring in Britain, or the one in which an angry father hunts down a murderous illegal immigrant after a jury lets him off to show how woke they are, or maybe the hilarious college comedy about the snowflake students who can't hear conservative ideas without going into therapy.
But this year — forget it. The Oscars no longer matter enough to satirize. Here's three reasons why.
First, Movies Are No Longer America's Art Form
The Oscars as a glamorous, televised, fun event are a relic of the days when film was the central American art form, the way America told stories to itself. When an art form is at its peak — which usually comes pretty early in its life cycle — the greatest works and the most popular works are usually one and the same. The movies, for instance, peaked around 1939 when the nominees included Gone With the Wind, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, and The Wizard of Oz. All are still rightly considered classics and all were in the top ten at the box office.
As art forms grow old and moribund, they increasingly divide into popular but shallow entertainments — like virtually any super hero picture you can name — and artsy works that the critics rave over but no one sees. Old art forms become elitist. Last year's Oscar winner was Moonlight, a movie that served the intersectional needs of snooty intellectuals everywhere with its story of a black homosexual. I liked the movie all right, especially the acting, but coming in at the box office under Zoolander 2, it didn't exactly set the world on fire. It was a teeny, tiny sliver of life that would have been better off as a half-hour entry at a short film festival: an elitist work for elite audiences.
When your work speaks to the nation, it is worth celebrating it with a glamorous, overblown show that everyone watches. When you're making films for a small part of Brooklyn, Manhattan and L.A., not so much. Hold a private party and give each other certificates and go home. With only occasional exceptions, you are spent as an artistic force and don't really matter anymore.
Second, Oscar Winners Make Carping Political Speeches and They Don't Know What They're Talking About
In Plato's famous Apology, the great philosopher has Socrates say: "Not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise."