Yesterday afternoon L.A. Times/Notes on a Season columnist Pete Hammond took me to task for suggesting that the Academy might want to backhand Precious costar Mo’Nique for having said on her BET talk show that (a) she doesn’t understand why she needs to roll up her sleeves and campaign for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and (b) saying “what’s in it for me money-wise?”
Hammond says that Mo’Nique’s alleged “money demands for appearances related to a campaign are quite frankly old (non)news.” He means that Hollywood Reporter columnist Roger Friedman‘s report that “one source close to the production insists that Mo’Nique asked for $100,000 at one point to show up [at an event] with the rest of the cast” was posted last September.
And yet Mo’Nique did say to guests Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson on her talk show last month, “Now let me ask y’all this, because I know y’all are gonna school me correctly: What does it mean financially?” Surely Hammond hasn’t misunderstood what this question indicates.
I understand Hammond’s point about how you don’t have to campaign if you’ve really got the goods. Roman Polanski had the moralistic haters against him and didn’t say “boo” when The Pianist was in contention, and he still won the Best Director Oscar. But you do have to campaign if you have major negatives against you, as Russell Crowe did at the beginning of the Gladiator campaign, and as Mo’Nique clearly does now.
And it’s not just me saying this. Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson recently wrote that “Lionsgate has [an] issue” to deal with in its Precious campaign, which is the fact that Mo’Nique “is a piece of work.”
I’ll admit it — I’d love to see Mo’Nique not get nominated. I feel that her Mary character in Precious is so phenomenally despicable that it constitutes a special case — the mushroom-cloud atmosphere generated by her daughter-abuse in Lee Daniels‘ film is so toxic that it should, I feel, override the fact that Mo’Nique delivers a very strong performance. Call it a moralistic community statement warranted by special circumstances.
But I’m not trying to do a takedown campaign on Mo’Nique. Really. She’s clearly going to be nominated. But in a fair and just world (and in a politically realistic one as far as Hollywood is concerned), Mo’Nique shouldn’t win, and she if you ask me she most likely won’t.