Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Armchair Pundit

So we learned yesterday that Them Racists are sexier than Them Gays, Them Jews, Them Commies, or Them Liberals. If I were in the ridiculous habit of ascribing some measure of single-mindedness to the Academy, I'd be sure there was a very good reasoning behind this (and I will admit to trying to fathom whatever memetic damage-control may've influenced the voting); I'm more likely instead to figure this has been a while coming and it ain't worth no fussin' over.

The Gay Cowboy genre is, of course, as old as the hills; I don't think it was concern over what The Academy as some sort of mythical hivemind thinks of Them Gays that caused Crash to win, rather simple trend-acknowledgement. As in, there's an lot of Ensemble pictures with blown-out cinematography and lots of handicam in them coming out lately, so it's about time one of them got an award.

Dissatisfied Brokeback fans complain that in fifty years, "their" movie will be the one remembered and Crash will be but a footnote: people will think back to the films of the early c21st and won't for the life of them be able to remember if that Thandie-fingering scene was in 21 Grams or Syriana, assuming of course it wasn't in Traffic. Which is probably right. The logical question being, then, so why do you care? Any Man On The Street feeling that Brokeback Mountain's loss actually means anything in the broader scheme of things might like to name me five Best Picture winners from, oh, before 1990. I don't mean to sound unnecessarily blase here, but honestly: if your movie had the best per-screen grosses of any live-action movie ever, which it did, and your movie meant so much to so many people, which obviously it did, is it really much of a deal either way whether it won or not?

I mean, hey. I'm a big fruitcake Liberal. People often mistake me for a gay writer. (Come to think of it, people often mistake me for an angry Jew - I guess cause I'm so damn witty and all). And who doesn't want to be a gay cowboy every now and then? So I can sympathise: it would be awful nice if a movie you identified with would win an Oscar and it would show that finally people were accepting The Community for who they were. But the fact is, that's not what it would mean anyway. The whole thing had been preemptively spun to high heaven so we'd be in no doubt that if a picture won that offended your own personal politics, it'd be because The Academy Is Out Of Touch.

(And, if I were to ascribe any credence to the memetic-damage-control theory, which I'm not saying I am and I'm not saying I'm not, I'd ascribe credence to the notion that "Racism=Bad" is just the most universal Message encoded into any of the nominees this year. "Universal" and "lowest-common-denominator" being somewhat exemplary of the potato/potahto dichotomy, and as such not worth exploring too much further).

But the #1 reason I really can't be fussed either way about the Oscars is that, what with Syriana, Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Goodnight And Good Luck, Crash et al, I've been far too busy enjoying uncommonly good movies to really be bothered which of them the Academy likes. And as a gay liberal Jewish writer, I think my message is universal as a sumbitch.

[EDIT]: While it be hatin', this piece by Erik Lundegaard is rather less charitable toward Mr. Haggis' efforts; and, while my thoughts on seeing Crash would seem to suggest that I enjoyed it, I can't actually find many counts on which I disagree with him. (Possibly the "Crash Sucks" one).

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