So I half watched the Oscars, despite the fact that I had seen just three films with any nominations at all. I was mainly hoping Michelle Williams would win Best Supporting Actress (I’ve loved her ever since she loved Dick), which she didn’t. But that’s not quite outrageous enough to move me to write. George Clooney’s acceptance speech, on the other hand, ended like this:
We are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. We were the ones who talked about AIDS when it was being whispered. We talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. This Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I’m proud to be part of this Academy. I’m proud to be part of this community. I’m proud to be out of touch
This is a pretty annoying speech who ever gives it, quite frankly. For me, politics isn’t actually about feeling smug about how I’m much better than the great unwashed, but about building and organising so you’re not out of touch. Being alternative and radical isn’t actually my goal, because I think that it’s only through collective action that we’re going to end capitalism, not through being rich and famous.
But it’s particularly annoying from George Clooney, who was nominated for Good Night and Good Luck, a movie whose message (McCarthyism is bad when the people involved aren’t communists) was so radical that Joe Liberman would have supported it. Yes Three Kings was actually a good political movie, but that’s one on a rather long CV. I’d think that not noticing that women have relationships with each other is a little out of touch, and I’d also be damned surprised if more than 5% of the movies George Clooney has been in would pass the Mo’ Movie Measure.
The Hollywood he praises is the voice of rich, it’s racist, misogynist, homophobic, for a start, and the fact that it occasionally nominates ‘issue’ films doesn’t make that any less true.
Oh and if we’re going to talk about specifics it wasn’t Hollywood that was talking about civil rights when it wasn’t popular. It was normal people who gave enough of a shit to try and fight back. Some of them died, and when Hollywood got round to making a movie about that – a ground breaking 25 years later, it was about as accurate as you’d expect.