Culture Fail

Oscar Didn’t See That One
In the wake of last week’s painful Hollywood masturbation show, the Academy Awards, the LA Times reported that at least two of the Academy members are total racists. Before you dust off your moral outrage, make sure you have the story straight; they didn’t snub 12 Years a Slave. Instead they both voted for it for Best Picture, which it ultimately won, even though neither had seen it.

Was 12 Years truly the very best picture of the year? I personally thought it was a wonderful film, just not my favorite of the nominees (take a bow, Philomena). Certainly it was worthy of consideration, as nearly every critic in the country agrees. So don’t mistake this for me feeling it got undeservingly praised. In a rare show of good taste by the Academy, all of the Best Picture nominees this year were excellent and deserved consideration.

The Academy members who admitted to their fraudulent voting did so, they claim, because the film’s topic was so relevant and important that it deserved to win for that reason alone.

Excuse me, but that’s not what the golden bald guy’s little plaque says. It says “Best Picture.”
The Academy Awards really should not be a political grievance airing. If they are to mean anything at all, and I’m not saying they do, they’ve got to be about the actual quality of the films. They’re not awards for grittiness, truth-telling, or uncomfortable realities. They’re supposed to be recognizing artistic excellence.

What’s more, black artists don’t need affirmative action. There have been great black actors, writers, and filmmakers for as long as there has been film. Google “Oscar Micheaux” if you doubt this. Polite film appreciators can disagree on whether or not their contributions to filmmaking get enough recognition; I would argue that the Oscar-snubbing of Menace II Society (not even a nomination) in 1994 was far worse than the possibility of 12 Years a Slave not winning. But in the year 2014, Academy members should not be voting with their PR or PC conscience.

They should pick the best film… that they actually saw.

FootballCFPortland NFL Update
A couple months ago, I excoriated Oregon in these very pages about the shameful lack of a pro football team for the area in between San Francisco and Seattle. I argued that Oregon was due, and that the imperative of an NFL team representing the Northwest Corridor was an idea whose time had come.

Cue Portland to take my idea completely the wrong way.

Some professional scarf wearers in Rip City have started a petition on (‘cause we all know how effective those have been…) to convince Governor Kitzhaber to explore bringing an NFL squad (potentially the always-looking-to-move Oakland Raiders or St. Louis Rams) to Portland. They cite, among other things, that Portland is huge, area-wise, and boasts a bigger TV market than Kansas City or New Orleans, two cities that have long supported financially successful teams.

What they fail to cite, which I will go ahead and do for them, is that Portland doesn’t care about football. There’s always going to be pockets of fans, like myself, who get tired of not having a “home team,” but the overwhelming majority of Portlanders will be too busy designing their next tattoo or applying beeswax to their old-timey mustaches to even flip the channel to an NFL game. And that’s assuming they even own a TV.

As I have previously said, this only works if it’s for all of us. A team for all of Oregon, representing Eugene, Salem, Portland, Corvallis, and all the other little burgs and hamlets that make us so great.

I’d post something on about it, but I’d rather it actually matter and/or count for something, so I’ll be starting my petition on the bulletin board at Applebee’s.

by Ygal Kaufman