Oscar awards ceremony a scripted fantasy?

Is that all the Oscars have been reduced to: playing to the gallery?

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Photo: ANI
Photo: ANI

Published: Mon 28 Mar 2022, 10:40 PM

Those watching the live telecast of Oscars 2022 were in for a Kodak moment: Best Actor nominee Will Smith, who went on to win the award subsequently, punching Chris Rock on stage in a fit of rage and then following it up with a volley of cusswords.

Social media immediately started buzzing. Was it stage-managed? Or was it genuine? We’ll never find out, but whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt that the Oscars have been reduced to a bit of a joke.

No one is really surprised because, over the years, the ceremony — plus the awards themselves — have been giving the impression that it’s all become a scripted fantasy where grabbing eyeballs matters more than rewarding talent.

For the longest time, despite blatant racism and rampant politics/sexism in Hollywood (the Harvey Weinstein case is only the tip of the iceberg), the Oscars were regarded to be the cultural benchmark in moviemaking.

It was American soft power at its flashiest best, and the academy changed the script as it deemed. And marketing campaigns ensured it didn’t matter that there may have been better films being made elsewhere in the world: all that mattered was the official Made-in-America Oscar ‘tag’.

If one were to take the very serious matter of Black Lives Matter — one issue that the Oscars has tried to appropriate as its own — the problem has been that instead of removing race barriers and making Black actors mainstream and their evolution on screen seamless, there’s a concerted effort to buttonhole and then amplify.

That doesn’t work in showcasing either character development or talent. It probably started with a cause-and-effect episode: Denzel Washington being denied the well-deserved Best Actor for The Hurricane in 2000, and then being accorded one — as an apology — for Training Day a couple of years later, a recognition that should have ideally gone to Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind.

Subsequently, the awards have been projected as being “inclusive”, trying to flatten out race, skin, gender, class lines — often with talent being compromised.

Much of the same script played out at yesterday’s awards ceremony. There are questions being asked in the aftermath. Why, for instance, was Jane Campion given Best Director? Is it because she’s a woman? Why was Benedict Cumberbatch or Andrew Garfield not given Best Actor? Is it because the former is British, and the latter is White

In the aftermath of the sucker punch he received, Chris Rock said, “That was the greatest night in the history of television.” Is that all the Oscars have been reduced to: playing to the gallery?

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