Monday, March 06, 2006

200th post!!

And it comes on the heels of last night's major upset. Micah had a great "chat" going on last night, which helped move things along as the ceremony itself seemed... somber? Jon Stewart was fan-damn-tastic as the host. He didn't pull any punches, and I respect that. Toss in some hilarious fake ads with voice-over by the brilliant Steven Colbert, Ben Stiller in a skintight green unitard (can we pause for a moment to just giggle at the word "unitard"?), and Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell following, apparently, a battle to the death with their makeup artists. These four should be the presenters/hosts for every award category in every award show from here on out. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin can come too. They were pretty entertaining. Everyone else, eh. At least Sean Penn didn't come out and express his man-love for Jude Law this year.

Although I liked Crash, I'm really disappointed that Brokeback didn't win. I guess even Hollywood still has a ways to go with being fully comfortable with its own sexuality. While it's great that a good film with an unflinching look at the sad state of race relations in the country got the recognition it deserved, it's still kind of disheartening that (apparently) gender issues still aren't seen as being as important as race issues.

Anyway, I'll save the soapboxing for some other time. Yay for Reese Witherspoon and Rachel Weisz! I just love those two. I guess I'm happy for George Clooney and Philip Seymour Hoffman too.

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At March 6, 2006 at 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because Brokeback Mountain has two gay characters doesn't mean it must win at the Oscars, and by not winning, it doesn't mean that Hollywood isn't fully comfortable with its own sexuality. Not everything has to be connected that way.

At March 6, 2006 at 3:18 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

lol, anon -- okay, let's hear your theory about why Crash won instead of Brokeback. Hint: it's not a better movie. I mean, you can argue that if you want but most people would agree that you're wrong on that point.

At March 6, 2006 at 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, I was re-reading my comment, and it sounded so hostile! I didn't mean to come off that way. But I still don't see why most people would disagree with my point, particularly since I liked Crash more than Brokeback Mountain, as a movie in general. I see where you're going with all the politics, but it's just lame that a decent movie must be given the oscar over a, let's say, a better movie because that movie has gay characters. Hey, maybe I give the Oscars too much credit; maybe they are lame that way.

At March 6, 2006 at 7:41 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

anon, no worries. That's the hazard of the written word. I think it's fair for people to have their own opinions of different movies, and certainly people could reasonably think Crash was a better movie -- but there were two things at work here. First, as an empirical observation, it's generally agreed by most people that Brokeback was a better movie. Obviously aesthetic quality is subjective to some extent and there's room for disagreement here, but from a pure empirical standpoint, Brokeback was the frontrunner because it was thought superior by the majority of moviegoers (who actually saw it) and critics.

The other part is political. Of those who didn't like the movie -- some of whom, certainly, made this determination without actually *seeing* it -- a fair number of them, I would venture, disliked it for the primary reason that they are uncomfortable with homosexual themes. That's the more problematic thing I was getting it. I'm not trying to say people shouldn't have the right to think homosexuality is a sin, or whatever (hell, I used to *be* one of those people), but the squeamish reaction that greets it is, in my mind, something uniquely gendered. For one thing, the squeamishness, you'll note, is generally only as regards male homosexuals. Lesbianism is actually sometimes encouraged. I won't go into the whole gender politics rigamarole, but this is one of the primary reasons I find homophobia distasteful -- since if you've perused my archives you've probably gleaned that I'm a pretty outspoken feminist :) I swear, though, I'm still a fun person!

Anyway, I suspect this squeamishness played into Crash's win. People might be able to say this was because they though Crash was a "better" movie -- but then why was it better? Are racial themes more important? Was it better acted or better written? Or, deep down, did Brokeback just kind of "bother" people? My opinion is that enough Academy voters were just a *little* put off by the explicit male-and-male sex scenes. To me, this is sad, since Hollywood is generally supposed to be on the progressive end of things. Maybe I'm wrong -- but I think my suggestions are not so "out there," at least.

By the way, thanks for stopping by and commenting! It's actually pretty rare I get brought into a political conversation in the comments, so thanks!

At March 6, 2006 at 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crash was a better movie. And why did Brokeback win so many awards if people were really uncomfortable? I think the strong ensemble cast made Crash less likely to win some awards, but a very good bet for Oscar.

Sure, the movies this year were more political than they usually are, but I agree with the first anon that you are jumping to conclusions WAY too early.

Also, why should gender/sexual orientation be more or less important than racism? Do you really think we've come far enough to say that there is no more racial tension? In any event, both types of discrimination are wrong, but comparing the plight of the relevant parties is benighted and ill-conceived.

At March 7, 2006 at 10:14 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

anon 2, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I've never had the problem before of having more than one anonymous commenter in one thread, lol. If you guys could think up something other than "anon" to help me tell you apart that would be great :)

Anon 2, Brokeback only won three awards, which is the same number King Kong won. So it's not quite right that it got "so many" awards. I'm not denying that it was able to overcome some barriers, but I strongly suspect homophobia played into its loss as best picture for the reasons I laid out in response to anon 1 -- that is, it came as a surprise to most, since Brokeback was generally regarded as the better movie. As I acknowledged above, while movie quality is to some extent a question of subjective taste, people who are in the industry generally agreed that Brokeback was a better movie. This is an empirical fact.

Then there's the problem that I mentioned above -- if you didn't like Brokeback, why didn't you like it? While everyone has the right to his or her own opinions or tastes, it's hard to deny that many had a visceral reaction to Brokeback. In society, it's just not cool for two guys to have sex. People are uncomfortable with it. My argument is that this discomfort derives from sexism, of which homophobia is the other side of the same coin.

Anyone who actually knows me knows I'm a huge supporter and advocate of racial equality. As I noted in my post, Crash was a very good movie. But Brokeback was better. In my mind, this was another example of gender taking a backseat to race in terms of progressive movement -- this lines up, historically speaking. Blacks got the right to vote before women did. The Civil Rights Movement preceded, and was more successful than, the Feminist Movement. It's twisting my remarks to say that this means I don't care about racial equality. I think that BOTH gender AND racial equality are equally important. And this is why it bothers me when I perceive that one (gender) is getting the short shrift.

Really the unfortunate thing is that these two movies came out in the same year. Any other year, I would have been rallying behind Crash. I'm just disappointed that this year we weren't able to give gender equality the center stage it deserved.

At March 7, 2006 at 2:57 PM, Blogger Micah said...

Glad you enjoyed the chat. Just don't expect anything of that magnitude for the Tonys.

I didn't see Brokeback, so I can't comment as to its quality, but I didn't care for Crash. It was just too heavyhanded and manipulative. I wouldn't compare it to King Kong, since that movie took home solely technical awards. The Oscars that BBM did take were for major artistic categories. The major categories were spread over a hell of a lot of films (6 different movies).

I'm not exactly sure why BBM lost, but I'm not jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon. If any industry has "progressive" attitudes towards homosexuality (and likely a large percentage of gays), it's Hollywood. Maybe they're hypocrites. But that would be such a ridiculous notion. Hollywood hypocrites - yeah, right!

Seriously, some post-Oscar analysis that I've read said that Crash likely took the prize because, aside from the race thing, it was an LA movie and the Academy tends to award films that take place in their neck of the woods. As self-congratulatory and incestuous as Hollywood is, that's not hard to believe.

At March 7, 2006 at 7:15 PM, Blogger lakhawk said...

Also, you have to remember, Hollywood (the members of the Academy) prides itself on it's tolerance and progressiveness with respect to homosexuality issues. However, they are the ones that live in the highly segregated version of LA, so that film might seem bolder to them, in a self-flagellating kind of way.

At March 8, 2006 at 2:13 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Micah, no Tonys chat? NOOOOOOOO!!

The LA point is a good one. I guess, oddly enough, there aren't too many movies made about LA even though they're just about all filmed here, at least in part. But, like you say, Crash was a little heavy-handed. I thought it was good, but it had nothing approaching the subtlety of Brokeback. Like I've said, I could be wrong, and I hope I am... but you would *think* that in a town as progressive as Hollyweird, a gay cowboy film would be a shoo-in, especially if it was good quality (which Brokeback was). I mean, right??

LAK -- It's funny that you live in Chicago (Hyde Park, even!) and you call LA segregated ;) I'm fairly certain whites are a minority here, and quite possibly not even the biggest. And thank God for that, because we have the country's best sushi AND Latin cuisine! Ha!

At March 10, 2006 at 7:28 PM, Blogger lakhawk said...

My point wasn't that LA is segregated, or more so than Chicago (HP is actually one of the most diverse neighborhoods, once you're more than 2 blocks from the University). In fact a lot of LA is quite diverse and integrated. However, the parts of LA where members of the academy live are the most exclusively isolated white areas. A vote for Crash could have been a vote for soothing their own psyches.

At March 10, 2006 at 8:34 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Fair enough. But our food is still better :)


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