Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter is conducting anonymous interviews with members of the Academy leading up to the Oscars this weekend, and the first interview is a horrorshow of bigotry.
1. "What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there's no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don't think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were."
No, they'd be carrying on about it on a totally different level, the level where we gauge the hubris of white directors claiming black narratives for their own gain for the 900th time in the history of film.
2. "[On Selma]: I've got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying "I can't breathe" [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?"
It's not a far leap to assume that a group of people who made a movie about a civil rights leader in a racially segregated time would care about the civil rights of a man who was murdered thanks to the ongoing legislative nightmare that creates a racially segregated environment, and how we're culturally regressing with regards to race, but what do I know?
3. "I don't care what your politics are — it [American Sniper] is literally the answer to a prayer for a midrange budget movie directed by an 84-year-old guy [Clint Eastwood] to do this kind of business. It shows that a movie can galvanize America and shows that people will go if you put something out that they want to see. With regard to what it did or didn't leave out, it's a movie, not a documentary. I enjoyed it, I thought it was well done, and I can separate out the politics from the filmmaking."
Oh, suddenly you can separate politics from filmmaking? Please see your quote about Selma directly above this statement.
4. "Watching it [Boyhood], I thought it was ambitious and a directorial triumph, but the kid was uneven and Patricia Arquette probably was sorry she agreed to let them film her age over 12 years."
Oh, good, I thought we were going to skip the sexism but nope! Here it is.
5. "I'm voting for [Birdman's] Michael Keaton because I love him and for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is he seems like a completely sane person who lives in the middle of the country and works when he wants to work. I've loved every interview that he's done. He seems grateful, not particularly needy, and I don't know when he'll ever get another chance at this; the other nominees will."
Let's give out trophies to the old guy for being old, because he's old? That makes no sense for an award that's supposed to be based on merit. This voter has the same idea about J.K. Simmons—"I'm voting for him because he was great in the movie — and because he was in 5,000 episodes of Law & Order." I bet none of the other nominees knew that the way to Oscar gold was through 5,000 stories about being a cop in NY.
6. "But I'm voting for Arquette. She gets points for working on a film for 12 years and bonus points for having no work done during the 12 years. If she had had work done during the 12 years, she would not be collecting these statues. It's a bravery reward. It says, "You're braver than me. You didn't touch your face for 12 years. Way to freakin' go!"
7. BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "I haven't seen enough of them to vote. MY VOTE: I abstain."
Shouldn't seeing movies, all of the movies, be a requirement for this contest of voting on movies? I mean, the Academy mails the screeners to voters' homes to make sure they see the movies. How can you be part of the Academy and just not watch all the movies? I give up.
You should really read the entire thing to get the full scope of its awfulness.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.