Posted by lex, on March 9, 2006
I didn’t watch the Oscars last week. Not one moment of it.
There, I’ve said it. It’s off my chest.
Oh, it’s not just that I was relatively sure (like everybody else) that the Academy would fall all over itself to declare that a movie about gay cowboys set in the 1960’s was the best thing ever! which might have taken some of the drama out of the watching. And I probably would have been surprised (like everybody else) to learn that the best movie honors went instead to Crash – another movie I didn’t get around to seeing that apparently had some preaching to do lessons to teach about Race In America, a bold new subject that has never before been breached.
It’s just that between those two movies, I frankly couldn’t give a fig who won. I was aware that both movies are what is known as “phenomenons” by the opinion setting elite. But neither of them were – to me anyway – worth plunking down money for to see in a theater. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll get either one on DVD. They just don’t interest me.
I get preached at on Sunday mornings, and that pretty much fills me up for the rest of the week.
The thing is, I truly like movies. I enter the theater hopefully, quite willing to be pleased regardless of what the NYT movie critics have said, either way. If, that is, the material in itself will give me the slightest cause for hope.
Would I be surprised to learn that “the love that dare not speak its name” existed in the 60’s? Among cowboys? No, not particularly. And I decline to find that, in itself, an entertaining premise for a movie. I didn’t see that Robert Redford movie either, the one where he whispered to horses, while (I gather) pitching woo at a middle-aged female horse owner.
No, it’s just that if I’m to see a cowboy movie, I prefer that the cowboys fall in the mold of Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call. Swillin’ whiskey and battlin’ bad guys. Or maybe swillin’ whiskey and bein’ bad guys. Those are good too. Cowboy movies.
Not whispering to horses. Not cooing to each other.
And Crash? Surely I wanted to see Crash? Am I not aware that there are serious issues in this country of race and class?
Do I, on my Saturday evening out with those I care about, want to wallow in these issues?
I do not. Consider me a Philistine, if it suits you.
So it seems to me that in their urge to Make Something Important, Hollywood has simply lost the knack of making movies that I care to see. Or if they do, they’re not making them as “Serious” movies that I’d be likely to care about at the Oscars.
And while we’re on the topic of “Serious,” I’m just a little bit weary with people who have, in the words of Peggy Noonan, “read an article and then wants to tell us the truth, if we can handle it.” Who deign to teach us all about bravery, and racial justice and speaking truth to power. No matter how pretty they are.
But maybe Hollywood isn’t actually making movies for me. And maybe the Oscars aren’t designed for my entertainment either. But if they are not made for me, a normally avid movie-goer, it all rather does rather beg the question, in the context of declining Oscar’s viewership and ratings, and diminishing movie theater market share:
Who are these things for?