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Oscars' attempt to address diversity complaints during the ceremony came off as superficial

  • Janelle Monáe called out the Oscars being so white in her opening performance. So did Steve Martin and Chris Rock's opening monologue, as well as Utkarsh Ambudkar's mid-show rap recap. But all this amounted to no more than lip service, says Jeremy Gordon. "Aside from that, the producers attempted to bridge this gap by installing a bizarre slate of pre-presenters, mostly non-white, non-male actors like Zazie Beetz, Kelly Marie Tran, and Beanie Feldstein whose job it was to announce the more recognizable presenters," says Gordon. "They were so formally second tier that they had to say their own names, because of course the people at home wouldn’t know who they were. All of this amounted to a nervous chuckle: It’s true, the Oscars are pretty white and male, just as they often are, but we’re aware of it so don’t make too much of a fuss… okay? Please?" Gordon adds: "Then again, the Academy Awards are not a vehicle of social transgression, and it would be truly naive to expect this. So if we are to make a sweeping cultural declaration, it’s not that these ceremonies are populated by hypocrites (though they are) or that the Oscars can’t fix everything through the magic of cinema (though they obviously can’t). It’s just that the entire song-and-dance demonstrates how joking about a problem isn’t really fixing a problem. In fact, it might even be worse, because if you know something is a problem, and have some small power to fix the problem, but choose not to use it, then you’re just the smartest, most useless person in the room. What use is your arch understanding of the situation, when it continues to endure — when that arch understanding has been implicitly condoned by the powers that be?"


    • Visual Effects Society slams the Oscars for James Corden and Rebel Wilson's Cats VFX joke: "On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke,” the Visual Effects Society said in a statement. “It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.”
    • Ricky Gervais calls out Oscars stars for getting political: "I have nothing against the most famous people in the world using their privileged, global platform to tell the world what they believe. I even agree with most of it. I just tried to warn them that when they lecture everyday, hard working people, it has the opposite effect. Peace."
    • What the Oscars can learn from the Independent Spirit Awards: "Unlike Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, Plaza infused bracing irreverence with charm," Judy Berman says of Aubrey Plaza hosting the Spirit Awards for the second straight year. Berman adds: "The Oscars have a more difficult task than the Spirits, to be sure, by virtue of their wider purview, much larger audience and history as the world’s definitive annual celebration of high-minded Hollywood filmmaking. It isn’t really ABC’s fault that the Academy nominated zero women directors to Film Independent’s three. And the show’s producers can’t exactly stop Joaquin Phoenix from rambling about cow’s milk and social justice, in favor of more entertaining bits like Oscar snubbee Adam Sandler’s goofy-voiced, gatekeeper-mocking Best Lead Actor speech on Saturday. The Academy Awards could, however, find a charismatic host who cares about movies and write gags that feel playful and fresh rather than safe and obligatory. They could, in other words, actually cater to the captive audience of film fans whom the telecast is, frankly, lucky to still retain."
    • Late-night hosts celebrate Parasite's Oscar win while mocking the Academy's diversity controversy:  "All the acting nominees but one were Caucasian and what do you do when you have a diversity problem? Well you hit 'em with the world's most famous white rapper," Jimmy Kimmel said of Eminem's performance.

    TOPICS: 92nd Academy Awards, ABC, Independent Spirit Awards, Aubrey Plaza, Jimmy Kimmel, Ricky Gervais, Award Shows, Diversity