There are several Hollywood landmarks we’ve all heard of or peeked at — John Barrymore‘s Bella Vista, Beachwood Canyon’s Wolf’s Lair, the beige-pink Godfather compound (i.e., Jack Woltz‘s horse’s head home) on No. Beverly Drive, Guillermo del Toro‘s “Bleak House,” the Double Indemnity house.
And now, at the northeast corner of Fairfax Ave. and Wilshire Blvd., there’s a new one — “Woke House” or, if you will, “Inclusion and Equity House,” otherwise known as the Academy Museum.
It’s the Temple of Hollywood Redefined — the emphasis being partly on Hollywood lore and glamour, but mostly about identity and inclusivity and progressive cultural ideals and the Academy’s commitment to fulfilling same. About how Hollywood is a much better industry now than it used to be, and how we should all celebrate that fact. (But not too much!) The past is represented, of course, but the museum is mainly about doing the right thing for people who used to be benched on the sidelines or were made to wait in line out in the parking lot.
Welcome, film lovers, and thank you for your $25 ticket purchases, but never forget that you’re now in a place of wokester instruction.
Among the museum’s “guiding principles” is to always remember the sometimes sordid, colorful past, and to always be mindful of the Jonathan Shields legend (i.e., sometimes the best films are made by heartless sons of bitches) in The Bad and the Beautiful, and to remember that making great films has always been a grueling, uphill struggle…to never forget the scandals and suicides and cover-ups, and to recall that after seeing Sunset Boulevard Louis B. Mayer huffily told Billy Wilder than he had bitten the hand that fed him, and that Wilder’s immediate response was to tell Mayer to go fuck himself…to remember that during the ’50s the industry looked the other way as several honorable screenwriters were blacklisted and forced to work in Europe…to never forget that Jack L. Warner hated Bonnie and Clyde, and that producer-star Warren Beatty had to beg him to re-release it, and only then was it celebrated…that in the late ’50s Sidney Poitier was unable to rent a Beverly Hills home due to racist real estate agents, and that he was at least able to stay at the Chateau Marmont…that 20th Century Fox boss Daryl F. Zanuck used to carnally impale aspiring actresses every afternoon in his 20th Century Fox office…that local men and women of color were hired to portray Skull Island natives in King Kong, and that they were probably glad to get the work, even though it meant wearing bone necklaces and grass skirts….to never forget the endless oppressions and exploitations and greedy conflicts and deviant devotions that have always been at the heart of Hollywood creativity…oh, wait, I’m sorry…this is from an old Graveline Tours pamphlet.
The museum’s actual guiding principles are (a) Illuminate the Past, Present, and Possible Futures of Motion Pictures and the Academy, (b) Embrace Diversity and Be Radically Inclusive, and (c) Educate, Provide Inspiration, and Encourage Discovery.
The Embrace Diversity thing has a drop-down menu, and one of the mission statements says that the museum intends to “foster an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and anti-sexist culture built on transparency and accountability that ensures that all staff, communities, audiences, and partners are treated with respect.”
Jesus H. Christ already!…I feel I’m being scolded and swatted on the hand with rulers by woke nuns!
From Sasha Stone‘s “No Time (for Movie Theaters) to Die”: “But I see where the Academy is coming from. They are trying to address the needs of people who have been left out for far too long, [and] they can afford to depict themselves and their story any way they want to.
“For instance, when Sacheen Littlefeather accepted the Best Actor award for Marlon Brando in 1973, she was booed. The stunt was mocked and derided back then for bringing politics into the awards. It was embarrassing for the Academy. But all of these years later, she is celebrated in the Academy Museum as a point of pride. And indeed, when you watch her speech now she seems like a time traveler from 2021.”
There’s a large room in the museum that celebrates Oscar recipients, and Littlefeather’s speech is one of the highlights. Flatscreens show various winners celebrating their big moment, but not that many. You’d think that acceptance speeches by world-famous Oscar winners would be front and center. But for the most part the room focuses on people of color and historic moments of inclusivity. Sidney Potier, Rita Moreno, Gone With The Wind‘s Hattie McDaniel, Sayonara‘s Miyoshi Umeki, etc. (Where’s the Minari grandma, Youn Yuh-jung?) Plus Dimitri Tiomkin accepting an Oscar for his High and the Mighty score, Tatum O’Neal accepting a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Paper Moon, etc.
Yes, I covered the same turf in “Please Don’t Call It The Death Star” (9.21).