Why the Academy & MacFarlane Screwed Up

For whatever reason, storytelling taps into some primal urge to understand, to connect, to dream.  Hollywood is the center of a storytelling universe and the vast majority of those stories are about (straight) white males.  No surprise, as they are written by white males who create white male heroes in films that are directed by white males and then critiqued by white males and then given an awards season that by and large honors white males.  Then the most exclusive organization (with a majority white male membership) has their awards show hosted by a (straight) white male slinging misogynist, racist fratboy humor at those not in their exclusive white male club.  Hahaha!…?

But what is the Academy quick to tell us?  The ratings were up!   Somewhere, Paddy Chayefsky and Howard Beale are rolling in their graves.

The Academy is famous for ignoring comedic film, and it certainly has never deigned to acknowledge, much less honor, films with bigoted juvenile humor, but they’ll chase after the money from the demographic it serves, taking hypocrisy to new lows.

Our world is blessedly growing more conscious of prejudice, bullying and violence against minorities, whether of gender, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, etc.  Hollywood is at its best when it shines a light on these cruel, reductive behaviors by making films brimming with humanity, and the Academy is at its best when it honors these stories.  Unfortunately, this year its awards program, shown to the world’s largest audience, did the exact opposite, with ‘humor’ glamorizing cruel, reductive behaviors.

It’s said you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.  Hollywood prides itself on being part of the solution, on being far ahead of the curve in its humanistic vision.  This year their premier awards show was part of the problem, and so far behind the curve in proudly admitting they did so for the ratings.

For Your Consideration: examples of some white males who have wielded their power in Hollywood with care and compassion:

Actor Gregory Peck starring in films like To Kill a Mockingbird and Gentleman’s Agreement, especially in that day and age, when he received death threats for his choices.

Director Steven Spielberg making movies like The Color Purple, Schindler’s List and Lincoln.

Writer Joss Whedon creating a female slayer of vampires who was many times more empowered than a certain female lover of vampires in a recent film/book series created by a woman.

Director Steven  Soderbergh creating an entire film, Haywire, around a strong woman, Gina Carano.  Mega-points for not once turning the film into a Rorschach test for his libido, when it could have so easily gone in that direction in the hands of almost any other director.

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