The real problem with the Oscars

The biggest problem with the Oscars isn’t that they’re so white. It’s that they’re a garbage institution with garbage taste and values. Every year thousands of provocative new films grace the world and the Oscars do things like nominate Seabiscuit or American Sniper for best picture or award Crash or The Hurt Locker with best picture, and a few obvious directors and movies dominate the ceremony in a manner that turns what could be a celebration of artistic diversity into a prestige dick measuring contest that largely cements the cinematic and sociopolitical status quo.

The best critique isn’t pointing to films that have minorities and were “snubbed” — as Freddie DeBoer has pointed out, “there’s just no way to prosecute these arguments without insisting that your aesthetic taste is objective.” The stronger critique, the one that provides the most promise in the long run, is that the Oscars’s selections should reflect diversity in form and origin and style and intellectual leaning and political sensibility and social context / goal — ethnic diversity will naturally emanate from that process. That’s the best way to avoid strong-arming vacuous institutions into degrading rituals of tokenism which we’ll be sure to see in the coming years.

Better yet, let’s just scrap the whole thing — between the cost of the crowd’s clothing and producing the show, you could probably pay for a good chunk of reparations. Then let some smart people who are more interested in expanding artistic horizons than serving as guardians of mediocrity and celebrity start something from scratch.

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