I don’t know from the histrionic ego shenanigans that have engulfed the Hollywood Critics Association over the last few days. THR‘s Scott Feinberg describes the contretemps between founder Scott Menzel and ex-president Scott Mantz (not to mention the ten members who’ve recently quit) as “a cross between a Christopher Guest comedy and All About Eve, featuring Hollywood strivers, showmanship and, in the views of some, possible swindling.”

I couldn’t care less how this shakes out, but HE has never felt much allegiance for a critics org that has long believed in applying DEI criteria to end-of-the-year film awards.

Why do I think this? Because films should win awards because they’re superbly crafted, emotionally moving and/or qualify as great art in ways that transcend regimented wokethink.

As Feinberg recounts, the HCA was co-launched in mid-2016 by We Live Entertainment web journalist Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel and then-Access Hollywood on-air correspondent Scott “Movie” Mantz. The idea was to create a critics group that, unlike most others, would be gender balanced and racially diverse.

What got my attention was a passage in Feinberg’s piece that passes along Mantz’s recollection about how George Tillman Jr.‘s The Hate U Give (’18) was chosen as the HCA’s Best Picture winner.

Mantz’s recollection of Menzel’s explanation: ‘Ashley [Menzel’s wife, who is now listed on the HCA’s website as its co-founder] and I were going through the final votes, and it was looking like Roma was going to win. I didn’t want us to be just like everybody else. So Ashley and I, when we saw which way the votes were going, voted for The Hate U Give.

This movie speaks more to what our organization is about,” Menzel emphasizes, “so that’s why I thought that it would be good if we showed that this movie won.”

Mantz’s reply to Menzel: “Yeah, but if the members are voting and you are looking at the votes and you’re voting another way to give your preference, you are manipulating the vote. That’s voter fraud [which] ethically I have a very big problem with.”

Mantz tells Feinberg adds “that he didn’t and doesn’t believe that The Hate U Give actually came anywhere near that close to topping the voting.”

Menzel denies making any such admission to Mantz, though he does confirm that he and his wife voted for The Hate U Give. He also rationalizes that “we have a lot of people of color within our organization who really liked the movie.”

I found The Hate You Give somewhere between decent and tolerable. Humanistic, compassionate, tragic. But I wasn’t sufficiently intrigued to watch it all the way through, mainly because I could tell what it was up to (beware of demonic, hair-trigger white cops) from a mile away. I’m obviously okay with a film saying that, but if that’s all it it has to say I’m left with shrugs and whatevs.

Critic Mark Dujsiuk, 10.19.18: “There’s a clear difference between complex and heavy-handed, but it’s one of those things you have to see to know. Unfortunately, The Hate U Give falls into the latter category.”

Film Forward’s Kent Turner: “[It’s] about the slogans.”