The Junk Food of Writing

Friday, March 03, 2006

An Inevitable Oscar Rant.

This year the Oscars are political. That is the lead you will read in nearly every Oscar article this season. To every journalist who typed that short sentence, I have one thing to say: “No fucking shit, Sherlock.” The Oscars have always been political -- it is just on the surface this year. As you probably have heard, there is apparently a gay agenda (or, as I once heard it referred to as: a "conspiracy"). Yes, two of the most acclaimed films of the year were headlined by gay characters, Brokeback Mountain and Capote – and a Best Actress nominee for Transamerica played a transgender individual. Capote, however, is a moot point, because the film does its best to avoid homosexuality. In fact, the filmmakers of Capote must have broken their nails, because there is constant surface-scratching without any breakthrough (every homosexual reference is a “wait…is he, you know?” innuendo).

Transamerica wastes two hours of the audience’s time to force the hackneyed presentation of simple themes (such as tolerance and parenting) down their throats. The self-righteous production screams, in capital letters, “I am an INDEPENDENT movie, pay attention to me and give me more credit than I deserve”; this, of course, is ironic due to the overall conventionality and lazy Hollywood-inspired screenwriting devices it utilizes. Oh, it is also awkwardly comical and the last thirty minutes are Meet-the-Parents-kitschy. As Ali astutely observed, Felicity Huffman portrayed her character as if she was from another planet. I found this remark both humorous and absolutely correct because throughout the film (particularly when the audience first meets the character) she seemed to be channeling Vincent D’onofrio’s uncomfortable-alien-in-human’s-epidermis Edgar. The similarities are downright eerie and I must abruptly stop before I begin to become creeped out. Brokeback Mountain, however, is undoubtedly about homosexuality or, more aptly, forbidden love and repression.

The most egregious error of the Academy this year is not the extreme focus on homosexuality (the “look how accepting we are” shtick is so overblown), but the fact that the obvious, ham-fisted shenanigans of Crash slipped in as the ostensible runner-up. While I am glad that the film has sparked debate among the mainstream public, I cannot condone such preachy and manipulative filmmaking. The Oscar agenda isn’t particularly gay – it’s more about white man’s guilt than anything. I wonder if they could have gotten away with such a blatant “white man’s guilt” nomination if it wasn’t completely overshadowed by the homophobic cries of a small, but loud, margin of America.

Just a sidenote: My Microsoft Word spell check doesn’t even recognize the word “Brokeback” – but this film, whether you like it or not, is huge. I’m sure the next edition of Microsoft Word will not have that annoying red squiggle under it. It also did not recognize Paul Hackgis -- but I am sure people will be aware of this punny name when they come to their senses.

Stay tuned -- I'll post my large Oscar article tomorrow (and catch up on film reviews, since I will be on spring break...even though it is still very much the winter).


  • I don't know how you can argue that Capote's sexuality is expressed only through "innuendos". I thought the film was quite frank about his relationship with Dunphy without underlining it repeatedly. Furthermore, the film isn't about his love life/sexual orientation or his friendship with Lee, etc, so I don't see why Bennet/Futterman would have to spell out every aspect of his life in detail.

    By Blogger Ali, at 4:19 PM  

  • The aim of this rant was not to pick on Capote for not bluntly presenting his sexual orientation, but the media's exploiting of "deep" themes of homosexuality that were not well represented in Capote (oh, and the fact that Crash was able to slip in). I believe that Capote's weakness was the development of his relationships with others (and please, Dunphy's character was nearly superfluous). I wish that Capote's interactions with Perry were more deep and, well, gay -- because that seemed to be a crucial part of that relationship that was missing.

    Capote is NOT gay themed! It has more to do with Good Night, and Good Luck and journalistic integrity than it does to the homos in Brokeback and Transamerica.

    On a side note, do you truly believe that Crash could have found "runner-up" status in any other year?

    By Blogger Nick M., at 4:54 PM  

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