…and in its place a new religion, a Maoist DEI sociology cult that isn’t especially interested in the art and transcendence of movies as much as the social function of them…a serious lack of interest in movies that try to effectively tell human stories that connect on some primal level…movies that reach out to average viewers and establish bonds of recognition by making basic sense and cohering and elevating and translating into experiences that matter on some fundamental level.
Last night’s Oscar telecast was celebrative and joyous in many ways, but it felt more like a political rally than a church service… the big movies were all about celebrating off-center identities and allegiances…movies about diversity, equity and inclusion…an Asian-American family that feels just as trapped as the rest of us, and a human walrus whose struggle to understand and bleed over into his estranged daughter’s life, and finally to forgive himself…the films that tried to connect on the strength of their stories and characters weren’t really happening. Brendan Gleeson fiddle player in The Banshees of Inisherin was not, by my yardstick, rationally motivated.
What last night’s Oscars were telling me over and over was that Movie Catholicism as many of us have understood that term…that Classic Movie Catholicism is over. It’s no longer about how good a film might be or how deeply it might reach out and touch a single viewer…what matters to the New Academy Kidz (a term that I began to use sometime in ’17) is representation, representation and representation.
Posted on 2.26.18: 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, and (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. They’re also hoping to weaken or otherwise diminish the power of the old white fuddy-dud boomers.
“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.”