I visited the Academy Museum yesterday. Due respect but after 100 minutes of wandering around I felt that the $25 entrance fee was too high. It’s an impressive collection of exhibits that tell a certain kind of film history, but I felt slightly burned. The phrase I muttered two or three times was “this…this is it?”
For this is a huge, four-story, super-expensive apology installation. In room after room and in display after display, the museum says the following: “The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is very, very sorry that white men ran the film industry for 100 years straight, and there are doubtless too many white men running things now, but at least things are changing now for the better — women, Black artists, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and other POCs are making significant inroads, and we the Academy are proudly standing beside them and doing what we can to give them more power and say-so.
“So again, please understand our profound sorrow about how Hollywood’s film industry was run between 1915 and 2015, but the Academy is helping to make things right. Onward, progressive soldiers!”
I was especially entertained by two apology statements that are mounted on walls next to the “Backdrop An Invisible Art” exhibit. It partially salutes the huge Mount Rushmore painting used in Alfred Hitchcock‘s North by Northwest (’59) but mostly condemns it, or at least condemns the U.S. government for betraying the Lakota by allowing Mount Rushmore to be carved into a mountain in virgin Lakota territory, and by association condemns North by Northwest.
You’re given the distinct idea that North by Northwest is kind of an evil film, and that it might be better if Hitchcock, Ernest Lehman, Cary Grant and others involved were to be cancelled posthumously.
The best part of the museum is the viewing platform atop the rounded Death Star portion — the view of central Los Angeles is spellbinding. Otherwise you can have it.