Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan, Stacey Wilson Hunt and Chris Lee have posted a piece about the views and attitudes of the Academy’s new voters, all of whom were invited to join the Academy over the last two years and who constitute roughly 17% or 18% of the present membership. Of the 14 members interviewed, more than half were women and more than a third were people of color.
By all means read the piece, but I for one found it surprising if not shocking that the biggest concerns of the New Academy Kidz appear to be representation, representation and….uhhm, oh, yes…representation.
In other words, after reading the article I wasn’t persuaded that these guys are greatly concerned with the idea of honoring great cinema according to standards that have been accepted for many decades. Tastes have changed but regard for cinema art never faltered. Until now, that is.
If these 14 Academy members were to sit down for a round-table discussion with the ghosts of James Agee, Ernst Lubitsch, Katharine Hepburn, Pauline Kael, Samuel Fuller, Ida Lupino, Irving Thalberg, Luis Bunuel, Sergei Eisenstein, Marlon Brando, F. W. Murnau, Andrew Sarris and Marlene Dietrich, I don’t think there’d be any kind of meeting of the minds. Or not much of one.
I mainly got the idea that the New Academy Kidz are heavily invested in (a) inter-industry politics, (b) a mission of bringing about long-overdue change and the necessity of advancing diverse representation as well as the concerns of women in all branches of the film industry, and (c) hoping to weaken or otherwise diminish the power of the old white fuddy-dud boomers.
“The bulk of the new voters we surveyed were generally pleased with this year’s Oscar nominations,” the Vulture guys have written, “and many detected a clear delineation between traditional Academy picks and the sort of fare their freshman class was more inclined to go for.
“’With Get Out, Lady Bird and even Call Me by Your Name, you’re feeling the younger demographic,” said a new member of the directors branch. “Then you have The Post and Darkest Hour, which definitely represents the older half of the Academy.”
HE insertion: Wait…”even” Call Me By Your Name? Fuck does that mean? That Luca Guadagnino’s film isn’t outsiderish or P.O.C. enough? Or that it feels a bit too mainstream or something?
Back to Vulture: “’In general, it just feels like there is a feeling that we have to award people who have maybe been overlooked before,” said another new voter. “It’s about not wanting to award people who they have been rewarded a lot in the past. Maybe we need to give someone else a chance. I definitely think, whether [it’s] conscious or subconscious, [this is] happening.”
“It’s a bit cheeky to say ‘never ever again’ (because who the hell knows), but yeah, in this particular cultural moment it is all about Tribal Identity. And what’s disturbing is, we have a whole generation now for whom Tribal representation is, to use one critic’s word, numinous. The under-40 crowd has invested Race, Gender and Sexuality with a kind of cosmic significance. It doesn’t mean a lot to them — it means everything to them. Indeed, much of their conversation and writing seems to always come back to it.”