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With more ceremonies leading up to the Oscars, Hollywood continues to make itself more irrelevant.
It used to be that this time of year I was actively immersed in the annual awards ceremonies. Not out of any adoration, mind you, but sitting back with cocktails and mocking the pompous histrionics that would get peppered with hyper-leftist political lectures, all while celebrating films few had seen. I have even done my share of live-blog coverage on this site, having fun at the expense of the luminary back-slapping.
But in recent years, my interest has evaporated. Gone are the parties and absent are the industry guides and advanced hype. The celebrities have become diminished, the films more obscure, and the politics have basically become infantile. Weeks ago I happened to stumble upon the broadcast of the Golden Globes. Normally, I am plugged into the first awards of the year, as Hollywood would sell itself out to this sham of a show. This year, I was pulling up a streaming service one night and learned it was showing – on a Tuesday night, no less!
In a similar way, it was this week when the nominations for the Academy Awards came out; I responded with a shrug, making myself look over the selections just to see if anything of note was found. One item did garner a small dose of interest, but it was in the manner one of the nominations was being announced. As has become rote with these shows, any and every demographic highlight that can be granted a historical notice gets trumpeted. This practice has become as asinine as it is grating.
In 2022, as an example, Ariana Debose won for “West Side Story,” becoming the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar. Likewise, when Troy Kotsur won for the mostly unseen “Coda,” he was touted as the first deaf actor to win an acting trophy. (Marlee Matlin diluted the historical significance in 1986.) What Hollywood fails to notice is that each time they make these historical achievements prominent, it displays their own industry being exclusionary prior to that. In the case of DeBose, she becomes only the second Latina actress to win, after Rita Moreno won for the same role. That was back in 1962. In 60 years, the Academy has only recognized a Hispanic actress – two times.
This year, more historical significance is trotted out, and it is beginning to show just how forced this is becoming for The Academy. Michele Yeoh has been nominated for her starring role in “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.” In recognizing her achievement, The Hollywood Reporter really strains the boundaries.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 24, 2023
That use of “identifies as” is the obvious curiosity, and once THR goes to the length of explaining things, it only appears all the more ridiculous.
However, until today, not a single woman who identifies as Asian — incidentally, the largest racial group on the planet — has been recognized as best actress by the Academy Awards. Technicalities exist: Some recordkeepers consider Merle Oberon (1936, The Dark Angel) to be the first Asian best actress nominee, but she hid her ancestry (her mother was reportedly of partial Sri Lankan descent) and passed for white. Likewise for double Oscar winner Vivien Leigh, who was born in British-colonized India and whose mother might have had partial western Asian ancestry. And although past nominee Salma Hayek and winners Cher and Natalie Portman all have claims to some western Asian heritage (Lebanon, Armenia and Israel/Russia, respectively), none has identified as Asian.
That really undercuts the feeling of an achievement, but congratulations are in order…we suppose?
There was another sign of nominating wokeness this week, and it came from a source that on the surface should not be prone to this kind of virtue signaling. As a bad film aficionado of sorts, I have always enjoyed the concept of The Razzies, the awards recognizing the worst performances and other sub-achievements in film. As I said, I enjoy the concept, but the group behind these awards has shown that it’s happy to put up redundancies for the sake of building up stats for certain performers, and a tendency to go with sophomoric humor. (Under Worst Screen Couple, one nomination is for “Tom Hanks & His Latex-Laden Face and Ludicrous Accent.”)
But the Razzies also have lapsed into the political sphere in certain years, making statements with nominations for real-life conservative politicians appearing as themselves. George Bush has “won” in the past, and recently, the Razzies recognized Mike Lindell and Dinesh D’Souza for their documentaries. This shows that, even as the group behind this award is allegedly skewering Hollywood with irreverence, they also are looking for a measure of approval from the Hollywood set with a virtue-signaling tendency.
So this week, when Razzie nominations were delivered, there was something of a backlash, because among those nominated for Worst Actress was Ryan Kiera, for her performance in the remake of “Firestarter,” (nominated under Worst Remake). There was a level of social media upheaval for having a child actor listed for the Razzies, and the group behind The Golden Raspberry Foundation – rather than leveraging the publicity generated – buckled under the pressure.
The Razzie Awards have introduced an age limit for nominations following blowback after 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong (pictured above) was nominated for Worst Actress. In a statement, Razzies founder John Wilson apologized and confirmed Armstrong’s name has been removed from the ballot. He also said that going forward under-18s would not be eligible to be nominated for the awards.
Way to undermine your supposed edgy approach and contrarian position regarding the Hollywood studio system. Any irreverence and humor is now made more impotent, in that you are behaving and reacting just like the socially woke system you are supposed to be skewering with your awards. But, such is the case with our entertainment complex; you cannot even count on the people who have pledged to mock the self-serious entertainment complex–when they behave in the exact same, hyper-sensitive fashion.