An excellent excerpt from Richard Rushfield‘s latest Ankler column, “The 2021 Showbiz State of the Union,” posted on 5.7.21:
“These are not ordinary times for the industry. The systemic collapse of [Steven Soderbergh‘s Oscar show] revealed the hollowness of the core we’re all sitting on. The greatest conglomeration of entertainers the world has ever seen — on the biggest night of the year, center stage, spotlight right on them — were unable to entertain and they didn’t seem terribly concerned with even trying to.”
Kindly HE correction: Anyone, I think, would find it hard to apply the word “entertainers” to all but one of the 2021 Best Picture nominees — Nomadland (melancholy, meditative), The Father (a drip-drip tragedy about decline and degeneration), Judas and the Black Messiah (dour drama about the troops of J. Edgar Hoover closing in and bringing death and destruction in the late ’60s), Mank (interesting, well-made but less than “entertaining”), Minari (except for two or three grandma moments, definitely not entertaining), Promising Young Woman (a waker-upper but the saga of a 30something woman bent on revenge and self-destruction is hardly a delight) and Sound of Metal (spiritually transporting, quietly transformative). Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7 was the only Best Picture nominee that could be called entertaining.
Back to Rushfield: “They couldn’t make jokes, they couldn’t touch the heartstrings, they couldn’t even speak to the concerns of anyone outside Hollywood. Since the Academy last assembled a year ago, there has been a little world-historic event that disrupted the life of the entire planet, not to mention killed millions. By my count, the show made three, extremely passing references to this happening.
“That’s why this felt like an extinction-level event: the night the Hollywood elites walked away from the audience and vice versa. Even with the inner circle’s resident genius and innovator at the helm, they no longer have any understanding of who is the audience, why they are watching — and [they] no longer particularly care.
“And the whirlwind will be reaped.
“A better analogy might be that this was Hollywood’s Ceausescu speech — the moment the crowds turned on the god, and what had been authoritative and inspiring in an instant became ghoulish and pathetic, and his grip on the public slipped away, fatally.”