Revolution is messy and the Oscars ceremony wasn't messy enough: Schneller
The awards show dutifully mentioned #TimesUp and winners and presenters made a case for inclusion, but the overall tone was "keep it safe."
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The Show: The Academy Awards (ABC/CTV)
The Moment: The unnamed activists
Common and Andra Day sing the Oscar-nominated Stand Up for Something: “True worth is only measured not by what you got/But what you got in your heart…. It all means nothing/If you don’t stand up for something.”
Behind them, standing on ground spotlights, are 10 people. Common introduced them as “heroes.” As he and Day sing, we get an occasional shot of the activists’ faces. But there’s no proper pan over them, no mention of their names.
Later, the internet tells me they are: Alice Brown Otter (Standing Rock Youth Council); Bana Alabed (author and Syrian refugee); Bryan Stevenson (Equal Justice Initiative); Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood Action Fund); Dolores Huerta (Dolores Huerta Foundation, United Farm Workers of America); Janet Mock (#GirlsLikeUs), José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup); Nicole Hockley (Sandy Hook Promise); Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter); and Tarana Burke (Me Too). But the show itself never does.
The whole ceremony was like this for me — halfway toward good. It dutifully mentioned #TimesUp and trotted out actresses to explain it. Many winners and presenters identified themselves as immigrants and made a case for inclusion. Daniela Vega, a trans actress, was a presenter.
But “thank the military” and “thank the fans” segments felt gratuitous, and the overall tone was “keep it safe”: We’re going to include everyone, we’re going to acknowledge everything. But we’re not going to be controversial about it. It was as if all wrongs had been admitted to and forgiven — when they decidedly have not.
I didn’t want safe. Not this year. I wanted some anger, or at least passion. Revolutions are messy. I wanted mess.
The audience did, too, judging by their response to best actress winner Frances McDormand’s challenge. It came at the tail end of the night. If you blinked you missed it. It was two words: “Inclusion rider.”
The internet lit up, first with queries about what the rider is (a contract clause requiring 50 per cent diversity in cast and crew, which a powerful actor can demand as a condition of signing), and then with roars of approval.
In a show too concerned with “classy” self-congratulation, it was a gutsy gauntlet. If applied, it will change Hollywood. And that can change the world.
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