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The 10 Worst Things About the Oscars

While we ogle the pomp and circumstance, here are some things to keep in mind.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Dave_B_ via Flickr.

 
 
 
 

The 2012 Academy Awards are marching onward, scheduled to air their singular brand of glitz and self-congratulation on Sunday. While they’re often fun to watch and as much of an American pastime as the Super Bowl or, you know, apple pie, there are also plenty of things to criticize about them, and not all of them are obvious. We'll be tuning in. But while you ogle the pomp and circumstance also keep these things in mind: the 10 most annoying, offensive, and stupid things about the Oscars.

1. The 1 Percent

No-brainer, right? Hollywood’s consortium of producers, directors and actors are some of the highest-paid people in the entertainment industry, and this is the night when they don fancy and expensive costumes, sip champagne, receive free gift bags worth tens of thousands of dollars, and then ride in limousines to after-parties in the most exclusive clubs. Even though Hollywood has a reputation for being liberal (its actors, anyway), and certainly savvy participants such as George Clooney, Don Cheadle and Matt Damon will recognize the tenor of the country and act accordingly. And certainly there will be some awesome speeches, hopefully some mentioning and recognizing all of these things (and OWS!). But at the end of the day, the Oscars are about rich people hanging out and luxuriating together. Which is inherently gross, particularly now.

2. The MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America, the organization that represents the vast part of corporate Hollywood, was one of the biggest supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would not have curbed piracy but would have set a precedent for corporations to exert more control over than the Internet than the rest of us. Clearly it's beholden to big interests, but it also shows how disturbingly out of touch organizations like the MPAA are with digital technology, and its decided lack of willingness to try and innovate new ways to gain online audiences, rather than sticking to a plan invented in the early 1980s and censoring the rest of us living in this millennium. There will surely be some sort of corporate speech at the Oscars lecturing all of us commoners on the dangers of pirating while champagne glasses clink and diamonds glisten, and it will be gross, hypocritical and lacking in imagination, so we will ignore it.

3. The Help

We don’t want to hate on The Help too hard, because Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who earned SAG Awards, totally deserve to win for their talents. But as many have pointed out, why do African Americans have to play ancient stereotypes—i.e. Mammy, Magical Negro, Jezebel—to receive accolades for their efforts? Anyone who’s been paying attention to the interviews that Spike Lee and James McBride were giving at Sundance concerning systemic racism within Hollywood will have this on their mind.

As McBride put it: “This is 73 years after the first African American to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, garnered the award for the same role – as a maid, and a slave maid at that, winning the Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category on Feb. 29, 1940. And here we are, in the year of our Lord, Jan 25, 2012. Maybe I’m getting old, but the irony of this is too much.”

There’s a Tumblr meme going around right now: just take the entire cast of The Help and put them in a different movie, please.

(Viola Davis for her part, had a different perspective when she appeared on Tavis Smiley, which we can respect; read a summary of that here.)