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Academy Awards Decisions Leave Out Common People

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               M. Francis Mirro

    I’ve never been a fan of the Academy Awards, and I’ve always felt that they’re strange and snobbish. A bunch of millionaires gathered together, in clothes worth more than my parents’ house, to celebrate one thing: Themselves. With more excessive self-promotion than Lavar Ball and more unnecessary opulence than Versace, the Oscars, as they are famously known, represent nothing more than a televised display of “the Haves and Have Nots.”

    I’ll never quite understand why people care, and maybe that’s just on me. But I see more and more people wondering, as I always have, why we allow a strange collection of people, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to tell us which movies are praiseworthy and which aren’t. Cinema is first and foremost meant to entertain, and people are more than capable of determining something’s value as entertainment without the oversight of a committee.

    Even I’ll admit to preferring an artsy movie, something that leaves you thinking in a little different way than you were before you first turned on Netflix. But an Angelina Joel project about the genocide in Cambodia, or the seemingly endless bore of watching a screaming Sandra Bullock hurtle through space isn’t what the average person is typically looking for. Who wants to watch a boy grow up during a movie (Boyhood) that took twelve years to make, also the length of time it takes it watch, when we have our own lives to live?

    If I have free time, I’m more far more likely to watch Iron Man than The Judge, and I don’t think I’m alone on that one. When you want to watch Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ll probably turn on The Wolf of Wall Street before even considering The Revenant, the meme-ending movie that finally won him an Oscar in 2016.

    What omnipotent force ordained the Academy to tell Americans what we should like and not like? The American movie machine is so illustrious that it’s a permanent link in our interconnecting national fabric. Yet, we allow a snobby aristocracy to tell us that a movie’s relationship with a fish person (The Shape of Water) is so obviously better than the gut-wrenching and surprisingly artistic end to the Wolverine saga, which not only did well in the box office but with fans and critics alike.

    This is the same Academy which snubbed Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’ opus which, as anyone who’s ever taken a film class can tell you, has since joined the stuffy ranks of “high class” films despite the picture’s message against such nonsense. This same Academy refused to award Francis Ford Coppola with best director for The Godfather in 1972 and failed to award Samuel L. Jackson for Pulp Fiction in 1995. No love for Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining or much of anything for the immortal Alfred Hitchcock? Martin Scorsese is considered one of the greatest directors of all time and was denied any awards until 2006’s The Departed, despite brilliant works including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Raging Bull.

    These are not only movies, but important pieces within our collective American zeitgeist. Iconic lines of timeless relevance have seeped into our language as though they were written by Shakespeare and performed at the Globe Theater instead of the Chinese Theater. Fifty years from now, will we be quoting Call Me by Your Name, a film I  just heard about while writing this and yet is somehow nominated for Best Picture? I think not.

   The Academy Awards not only shows off to the common man, with its unrequested and unwanted parade up the crystal staircase to the ivory tower, but mocks his interests and tastes. Surely the common rabble is not capable of deciding what they like, right? Even if they could, it’s certain they’d chose wrong and we can’t have that, can we? The Oscars are a masquerade, with someone else’s perception of culture and talent being forced onto the nation. I will thank the Academy once it promptly yields its pompous perch above the people.

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