OPEN LETTER TO THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES
As a lifelong movie fanatic who has followed the Academy and its Awards for more years than I like to remember, I feel disappointed with the responses of the president, Ms. Boone Isaacs, to critics of this year’s nominations as reported by the AP’s Sandy Cohen. I am puzzled to learn that the Academy is working on “greater diversity” and on “being more inclusive.” Just how can you accomplish that? By nominating possibly less worthy films and performances in the interest of a range of colors and genders? By establishing a quota system? For performers? Writers? Script content? I heard a television commentator state blithely — but definitely and firmly — that Hollywood does not make enough movies about blacks and women. How many are enough? By whose yardstick?
I do appreciate the president’s addressing the factor of of the individual voter as opposed to an apparently general public conception of the Academy members around what would have to be a huge table or in a massive meeting, talking and comparing as a group — instead of what they actually do: send in individual ballots from many states and countries. The Academy as a whole doesn’t work at balancing acts or arrange trade-offs. “We’re not giving this picture any major awards, so let’s give it this as consolation.” This is how the public and the Academy’s unenlightened critics seem to imagine the nominating and voting process.
It of course doesn’t work that way. It can’t. And that would be the only way the Academy could perpetrate a snub, which journalists are more and more anxious to find and which I’m sick of reading about. I have loved Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz all my life. The only way for Gone with the Wind to win the best picture Oscar was for The Wizard of Oz not to. It never occurred to me that The Wizard of Oz had been snubbed. It did not occur to the Academy either and was not intended. A snub by the Academy would require deliberate planning by all the membership or a large chunk of it.
I am grateful for your president’s statement supporting this year’s nominees. They are all excellent performers with fine talents, and I regret the opprobrium being heaped on them by hecklers.
Allied to this kind of unintelligent criticism going on this year, though without the racial/racist bent, is the call for additional best picture nominees; this call, which has been heeded by the Academy, began with journalistic demands that films which make a lot of money be nominated whether or not they are deserving, in order to keep the public interested. This call is now being sounded by even once responsible critics, critics I used to respect. Incomprehensibly some journalists — we’re talking publications as significant as the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly — are calling for the nomination of big box office hits in order to keep the public interested in the Oscar show. God’s eyebrows. The show? Not even addressing the obvious fact the presentation of the Awards should never have become a show, I can claim that I go back so far that I remember when the evening was an awards ceremony and not, repeat NOT, a show. And it was not considered mandatory that a comedian host the ceremony — much less a comedian who will make fun of all the pictures and performances we are miraculously supposed to take seriously a few minutes later. Not to mention the lame jokes of awkward presenters, unaccustomed to a live audience. They are often so busy making fun of what they’re presenting, or calling attention to themselves rather than the recipient, that I am still waiting and hoping for the serious winner who will come to the stage, take his or her Oscar and knock the presenter(s) flat or at the very least lecture the presenters or the writers of their jejune patter and take up for the dignity of the award.
Every year, because you ask for it, you get reviewed as a show; and you’ve yet to get a good review. And it’s in the interest of this poor excuse for a television show that the Academy is to lower its standards and further increase the number of picture nominees? Why not just let the public vote?
If any increase in the number of nominees is needed — and not for any of the reasons journalists are giving thus far — it is in the acting categories. Why just five? Year after year, outstanding performances go ignored because of the limit on the number of nominees.
I thank President Boone Isaacs for her response to the media. And while I appreciate her willingness to address concerns regarding the nomination process, I believe that the Academy has work to do in how it honors its professionals. Thank you for listening.
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I appreciate the assistance of correspondent/follower BEC in preparation of this letter though BEC bears no responsibility for possible error or misinterpretation.
NEXT POST FridayFebruary 13
See you at the movies,