MCN Commentary & Analysis

The State of Oscar. 021620. Oscar’s Climax (Pt 3 – Meaning).

I’ve been anxious to write this column… and avoiding it… for a week.

The biggest problem is that I don’t want to be guilty of what most of the writing on the Parasite win has been… a clear reflection of a predetermined set of beliefs that would have been reflected in a specific way, regardless of the result.

A few writers have been cautious. Most told us what was right about The Academy because of this win and would have told us what was still wrong with The Academy if something else had won. (A few were just thrilled and bless them for being happy beyond the constraints of intellect.)

I remained stubborn and wrong about the conclusion until it was proven. It’s happened before.

I should have flipped completely when a few middle-aged and older white men told me that they had decided to vote for Parasite because they love the movie and it was a much more interesting Oscar night story than 1917 or anything else. Switching votes is a clear signal. Like everything else, a few voices don’t make that the narrative. But like a similar hum that made it clear late in the game that Crash would push aside Brokeback Mountain, I should have taken it one notch more seriously. I believed, in both cases, in the traditional… that homophobia was going to win this day in 2005 and that the International Film win would block the way for Parasite this year.

So the question remains… what did happen? What events coalesced? Are we witnessing change or something more familiar?

I have heard and read a lot of theories. Sadly, one was sold by The Academy itself, which is such a breach of propriety they should be deeply embarrassed by the choice to do so. (No longer a feature of Academy leadership.) Of course, their answer is that they are responsible for this popular outcome, as the 2020 program brought in more international members… which avoids the fact that the expansion of membership was not presented as an expansion of international membership until the last year or so (after most of the media avoided noticing for years) and even then, there is no acknowledgement that 2020 has failed for Americans of color in the industry.

But how have movies won Best Picture in the last 11 Oscar seasons, since the expansion? (History before that is not really relevant to this conversation.) I count three ways. (Feel free to add, “the competition wasn’t very strong to many of the years.)

1) It’s THE Movie – Start to finish, the movie is inevitable. This is one of the classic roads to a Best Picture win, though it has become almost extinct since the expansion to more than 5 BP nominees. In the 11 seasons since the expansion, I would say that only Seasons #2 and #3 have any real claim to having a start-to-finish leader (The King’s Speech and The Artist). Of course, there were competitors and there are people who seriously felt The Social Network would win over The King’s Speech… but King’s Speech went into the TIFF as a frontrunner and Social Network made people doubt it, but then King’s Speech asserted itself. It also benefited heavily from Oscar Winning Method #3. All that said, in these last 11 years, there has been no Schindler’s List or Rings 3 or Chicago, which overwhelmingly seemed destined to win from Day 1.

2) The Default – The Solid, Respected, No-Conflict (in the Academy) Choice. Spotlight. 12 Years A Slave. Green Book.

3) The Whip. When one non-BP category becomes the clear winner and it leads to the BP win. The Hurt Locker & Kathryn Bigelow. Argo & The Affleck “Snub.” Birdman and Iñárritu. The Shape of Water and Guillermo del Toro.

Aside from Parasite, these categories – which obviously have some mix-match to them – leave out only one BP winner since The Expansion, Moonlight. To be clear, this happened organically, for me, in the process of writing this. It was not my expectation. But it’s also not very surprising.

In all 11 case studies, there are mixtures of The 3 Categories. Only The Artist, Argo, and Birdman are really without a showcased moral cause (like stuttering or homophobia or racism or post-traumatic stress syndrome). But I don’t think being the issues in these other 8 films drove them to Oscar. 12 Years A Slave, obviously, covers one of the most horrible moments in world history… but again, though the movie is brilliant, I don’t think that was the key to the win. The Academy wasn’t standing up to the Catholic Church by selecting Spotlight.

And so, with Parasite and Moonlight, there are elements of the other Categories in their wins. Both films have enormously appealing directors, though Barry Jenkins didn’t take home Best Director. Both films had a solid, unexpected constituency – older white voters – from early on at Telluride, though not quite enough to be The Default or to be THE Movie from the start.

What both movies did have, from early on, was a strong moral argument being made in both social media and the press (the other media) throughout the season about the value of their potential wins. And in both of these cases, those arguments often went negative about other films and about Academy membership.

It may or may not be a coincidence that both of these wins occurred while #OscarSoWhite was being thrown around. In the case of Moonlight, it followed the season in which #OscarSoWhite was originated. This season, with Parasite, there was one nomination amongst the 20 actors for an actor of color plus no female Directors nominated, with only Bong Joon-Ho representing non-white color.

Another element of this is that the films that seemed to be the primary competition for the eventual winners and, in both cases, seemed to leap to the front of the pack from the first day they were shown, did not have an answer to the “too white” attack OR to the kind of emotional energy that Moonlight and Parasite built to late in the season.

I don’t think the late accusations that 1917 overlooked the Black contribution to the UK’s WW I effort meant much. But 1917 is an almost completely white movie. You can’t really avoid it. La La Land had non-white characters featured… but in the end, it was a movie about a white girl and a white guy.

What happens a lot in Oscar races, in my view, is that there are dozens of moments of opportunity/danger and no one knows which elements will become keys or just pass by. This is one of the reasons why the season is so dense and repetitive. FOMO. No one wants to be left out of anything, even if that thing is minor, because you never know when that turns out to be a turning point for some unexpected reason.

It’s a very complex idea, trying to measure how negative energy affects the Oscar race. In my view, this was the fourth season of negative arguments having a major footprint in the award season. The seasons with the most negative noise were Moonlight/La La Land and Green Book/Roma. It was a split decision, in terms of a win and a loss. But Roma was never fully the cause of the anti-Green Book group, which may have been the reason why Green Book could not be brought down. But both of the “anti” films are still mocked beyond reason.

One of the things that is interesting about both Moonlight and Parasite is that they became the most positive of the campaigns. In ways both similar and different, they became the positive story in their seasons that voters – white and old and male and otherwise – decided to vote for. (One angle that I hate is the attempt to claim that any Oscar winner somehow got there without the majority group in The Academy, regardless of whether that majority should exist or not. It both insults and misreads older white men and insults and misreads women and POC, assuming they vote in a monolithic way that squeezes past, somehow, older white men. It’s bullshit.)

In the case of Moonlight, its season competition was not exactly Avatar against The Hurt Locker, but the box office disparity was not dissimilar. La La Land was a massive hit… the 2rd highest grossing non-animated musical of all time at the time. It was a bigger hit than Chicago and the biggest non-animated musical not based on a Broadway show in history. Moonlight had grossed $23 million worldwide at the time it won.

But the argument was made – and still is – that La La Land was not daring… just another massive hit original musical made for the big screen. Absurd. And don’t even get me started on the original choices in the filmmaking itself. It wasn’t reckless to not like the film… but claiming it was easy was to take it someplace recklessly unfair.

All that said, Moonlight is beautiful and poetic and daring. I am in agreement with all the positive arguments about Moonlight. And I still think that Naomie Harris was robbed. (The winner of Supporting Actress was the always great Viola Davis and so no one complains about that one.)

A24 pushed hard for Moonlight and in all categories. As a result, they got 8 deserved nominations and played deeply to all Academy fields.

How much of the negativity around La La Land, much of which was attached to positive arguments for Moonlight, help Moonlight win? We will never know. But in the year after #OscarSoWhite, it was the first time we had really seen this form of a disqualifying argument. It wasn’t about a specific flaw or incident. It was about everything that La La Land was about… so it was virtually impossible to answer without sounding defensive and/or racist.

Even if La La Land took, say, a 10% Academy voting hit because of the push in media and social media, in order to win, Moonlight needed to be embraced in a positive way by a large percentage of Academy voters. And that achievement suggests that A24 and Barry and the entire team got the voters excited about the prospect of their film winning. It became the best story of that season.

This is where it is always tricky, as people seem to want everything to be, not ironically, black or white. If you believe that Moonlight was a good thing and Green Book was a bad thing, the answer in your eyes is not in the subtle shifts created by the circumstances of each season, but the “need” to hold a greater meaning that defines progress or regression.

In time, moments that actually are a shift in the mindset at The Academy become clear and most are just very specific moments in Academy history. After 11 years of The Expansion, I think it is completely legitimate to assume that there is a disadvantage in being too successful at the box office. Of course, that doesn’t mean that one of the Top 3 box office grossers amongst BP nominees will not win someday. Who knows? (No one) Maybe next season. But when something repeats for 11 seasons, especially after a very long history of only the top box office grossers winning, you can start to assume something real has changed.

(My personal assessment is that The Expansion added lower-box office, higher-quality movies to the equation and allowed Academy voters to remove the “wasted vote” yoke that narrowed the idea of what could win in years past. No matter what the box office, if you can get yourself nominated, you could be the winner.)

Likewise, we have seen three International film nominees/winners nominated for Best Picture in these last 11 seasons. One has won. Trend? No way to know today. I would say that a season with two International nominees would be far more indicative of the influx of international voters causing a permanent change of tone than this 1 win.

And we really have no idea what the impact of Netflix will be on The Oscars going forward… or whether Apple or Amazon or HBO Max or Peacock will push more than two streaming nominees into Best Picture in the same season. So far, it is just Netflix. They have gotten in with 2 relatively cheap films and one massively expensive drama. The math can be debated. But none of these players can’t afford to push their direct-to-streaming (with qualifying run) films into the Oscar race. What happens then? And now that voters are used to Netflix being in the game, does comfort breed comfort or contempt? Only time will tell us.

But Netflix is a digression in this piece…

Bong Joon-ho reminds me of Guillermo del Toro. It’s hard not to fall in (non-romantic) love with these guys. (Maybe romantic for some.) Brilliant, kind, funny, and super-passionate about film. Part of the Parasite win was Bong immersing himself in the Los Angeles scene for months. It never felt awards slutty. And no one got bored of him.

And the 1917 loss was not just about the movie or the negativity but about Sam Mendes, who I quite like and find surprisingly down to earth.. but he isn’t Bong and he was not as accessible as Bong (in part because he only finished his film in early November). 1917 also suffered from being written off, sometimes illogically, as nothing more than a single-shot stunt. It also suffered from coming out late in that most Academy voters probably saw it on a DVD or streaming onto their TV, which is far from the experience of seeing it on a large screen.

That said, I believe that Parasite won and not that 1917 or any other movie lost it. As one voting friend insisted to me, Parasite was the better story. And I think that is right.

We get so caught up in the the idea that everything is political, but I believe that The Academy is uniquely apolitical, in the way politics is about the outside work and meaning. It is very political internally. But I go back 40 years and I don’t see a single Best Picture winner that is acutely a statement on the politics of the world. I don’t think that changed this year.

So… why did Parasite win?

There are many reasons, but it became The Story. You may have preferred another film, but the person you wanted to see on the Oscar stage multiple times was Bong. And even if it wasn’t your first vote, it was probably in most Top 3s.

And here is another twist… did Netflix break the ceiling on choice even more by getting two films into Best Picture slots, further pushing aside what has long been Academy reticence about voting for any one film to win both International, Doc or Animation AND Best Picture?

It’s not completely unlike the American political system. And some will disagree with this. But I think once we had a Black two-term president, no group is off the table. Not a Woman. Not a Jew. Not a Billionaire. And unfortunately, not even a racist pig. Prejudices didn’t disappeared. But (most) people seem to value their vote aside from their prejudices now. Evangelicals voting for Trump… incomprehensible. But reality.

White old men voting for Parasite happened. Other people too. Maybe they made the difference. Maybe they didn’t.

One last thought. Six of the last eleven Oscar Best Picture statues went to distributors not associated with the majors. Of those 6 wins (amongst five companies) only two distributors are still operational, Neon and A24. Weinstein and Open Road are gone and Summit was subsumed into Lionsgate. Go back another 11, goodbye Miramax and DreamWorks. Another 11, Miramax and Orion.

Things change more than we realize. Companies come and go and we live in a kind of denial. Fashions change and movies that were breakthroughs in their moment become albatrosses of some political past that we finally feel we should be past.

A lot of normal circumstances led to Parasite‘s win last Sunday… and a lot of magical moments and energies that belong to no other film in history also led to that moment. There is nothing wrong with that. It is why we all still care what happens at The Academy Awards, a show that was started for all the wrong reasons and like so many great old people, has become somehow more dignified and respected after so many years.

To hope for deeper meaning is a fool’s errand. To enjoy what happened, for the film, for South Korea, for Asians worldwide, for Bong, for one lovely night.. that it what it means. Inhale the magic deeply. Don’t attach expectations. Don’t seek a trend. Another group of artists will be on the stage next year, hoping to feel magic. It’s not being an ostrich. It’s Oscartown.

63 Responses to “The State of Oscar. 021620. Oscar’s Climax (Pt 3 – Meaning).”

  1. palmtree says:

    I think you’re right about white men voting for Parasite. I remember attending a panel discussion with mostly white producers about producing for Broadway, and when someone brought up Parasite as a great example of artistic vision, the entire panel suddenly became about everyone praising Parasite and telling the audience to go watch it. This was just a sample of the power it had over people. That’s why I came on this blog and said I thought it could get to $100m, which in retrospect was too ambitious for Neon. But the fact that it’s getting past $50m is still pretty remarkable and not at all what most people predicted would happen. I think there are some movies that just cross over because they check off all the boxes: it’s entertaining, has an important message, is stylistically masterful, and the people in it are just lovely people. The tea leaves always said it was a winner, but not even I fully trusted it, because I’ve been disappointed before. But as with Moonlight, I feel that the Academy is a little less predictable than it once was (give or take a Green Book). And that gives me hope.

  2. Hcat says:

    “But Roma was never fully the cause of the anti-Green Book group”

    The cause of the anti-Green Book group was that the group saw Green Book.

    Thanks for all the analysis, always happy to read you. I always find it strange when people speak of the academy as some sort of lockstep group acting in unison. I hated Green Book but can see how it won (how the Artist got through I still cannot fathom). What I would consider righteous surprises of Moonlight, Spotlight and Parasite seem like gifts or happy circumstances.

  3. PanopticonNYC says:

    After Moonlight/La La Land I decided to completely check out of film twitter and Oscar coverage altogether. I liked both of those films and watching the internet bicker about them was the last straw. After years of reading negative campaigns and finding my relationship to the film complicated by the internet noise, I decided to go cold turkey and just see the films and make up my own mind about them. I gotta say it’s made the season so much more enjoyable. This year I had no idea that I had to choose the 1917 camp or Parasite camp. Both films were in my top 3 of the year and I was happy to root for both. It’s an icky feeling when you feel like you must be FOR one more and AGAINST another. I enjoyed 8 out of the 9 films nominated this year and was more in love with movies this and last year than I had been in a long time.

  4. Hcat says:

    NYC, good advice, I prefer to avoid spoiler articles as well, but I indulge those as well as Oscar horse race articles just out of my need to consume as much movie article reading as possible. I applaud your self discipline.

    I gotta ask which one you didn’t care for.

  5. PanopticonNYC says:

    I was not a fan of Joker at all. I could see what they were going for and Phoenix was incredible but the movie itself didn’t stick together for me. Phoenix is one of my favorite actors so even if I didn’t like the movie I’m glad he has his way overdue Oscar.

    I would have been good with Parasite, Little Women, 1917 or The Irishman winning. I liked the others too but those were the ones I was rooting for.

  6. Hcat says:

    Thanks, I know a lot of people who didn’t like Joker, and there are quite a few of them that frequent this site as well. I love Phoenix and thought I would watch almost anything he does but Joker seems to be something I can skip and just put him on the list of Pacino, Newman, Washington and PS Hoffman that won for movies that are firmly in the middle section of their impressive resumes.

  7. Hcat says:

    And just to expand on that, when you think Jack Lemmon and Lee Marvin, Save the Tiger and Cat Ballou are the last things that come to mind.

  8. David Poland says:

    Lemmon is great in Save The Tiger. Underrated movie. There were certainly bigger, more successful movies with showier parts. But like Newman in Color of Money. Minor compared to The Verdict. I adore Ben Kingsley, but he should have won for Sexy Beast. I would have put him #4 on my list when he beat Newman, Hoffman, and O’Toole. The only performance I would have accepted over Newman that year was Hoffman… but still… Newman… what a stunning performance.

  9. Bob Burns says:

    Last year Green Book’s publicists ran a white backlash campaign. Their campaign was dripping with white male grievance. They did not have time to mount a white backlash campaign against Parasite this year. The post-postmortems, though are filled with dog whistle intimations that Parasite only won because it wasn’t white….. like people saying Obama only won because he was black.

  10. palmtree says:

    Bob, that sounds horrible. The backlash will surely be felt next year…

    Ultimately, I think Parasite won because it made you feel something in the here and now. Period dramas are fine for when the world is functional (1917 would have easily won Best Picture in the Obama years), but when we have a dysfunctional administration and an increasingly unequal society, Parasite seems like the better choice, because it is seriously making a statement about problems are more and more unavoidable while also being entertaining AF. The other two movies that made serious statements about today’s world, Joker and Jojo Rabbit, were never serious contenders for the top prize.

  11. David Poland says:

    Uh, Bob… what planet was this campaign on?

    And where have you seen anyone suggesting – except in support of the film and diversity at The Academy – that Parasite won because it was a non-white film?

  12. Stella's Boy says:

    Armond White sure said it. His screed against Parasite is highly amusing. Only won because of how anti-American it is, etc. Right-wingers went nuts about it winning.

  13. palmtree says:

    LOL…you made me go read his review, and it’s classic bonkers Armond White. He’s too busy trying to shove Parasite into a pigeonhole that he fails to actually see what the film is. And the kicker is he has to compare Stephen Chow positively next to Bong, because you know, if he likes Chow then that means he’s cool with Asians. What a hack.

  14. hcat says:

    “Weinstein and Open Road are gone and Summit was subsumed into Lionsgate”

    As long as we are mentioning that I would like to point out that Searchlight’s acquisition is not insignificant. That would make 7 of the last 11 best picture wins by studios that have either been killed or captured. That’s part of the reason Neon and A24 winning in the past few years is encouraging. There are still players out there.

    Bob, I am not privy to the actual campaigns but given the enthusiastic response Green Book had out of the gate I would think those that liked it liked it sincerely. The people who loved it didn’t love it because it was racist, they loved it because they thought it addressed racism. I don’t see how anyone could have voted for the movie as a strike for white male order or a way to keep the “others” at bay. They may have voted in a “they don’t make them like that anymore” way but I do think there is a difference between the two.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    It sure is palmtree. He is a trip. I know it’s all subjective and I hate it when someone says “if you didn’t like it you didn’t understand it,” but White’s take on Parasite is so misguided and off and nonsensical he either didn’t get it or he’s just bashing it for the National Review crowd. I reckon it’s the latter. He’s bonkers but I get a kick out of reading him from time to time. He name drops such obscure movies I often wonder what National Review readers think of him. I guess they like him because he constantly bashes liberals not because of his taste in movies.

    Green Book seems like classic Oscar bait to me. Not surprised it was nominated and won. Its metacritic was higher than I expected, too. Much higher than say Joker’s.

  16. palmtree says:

    Green Book seems like such a generational choice. My conservative boomer uncle loved it.

    I like to read Armond too occasionally just because it’s good for a laugh. But to hate on Parasite the way he did was just such pandering right-wing drivel. And National Review is supposed to be the “good, reasonable” conservative publication.

  17. YancySkancy says:

    I’m a white boomer, and yes, I loved Green Book. It’s crowd-pleasing and sort of ‘middlebrow’ in that way that often tempers the enthusiasm of critics and cinephiles, but for me it’s ultimately just a good story well told, funny and appealing with its heart in the right place (it’s certainly not a movie that an out-and-out racist could love). I appreciate its classical virtues, almost as if it’s something I stumbled upon on TCM from 50 years ago (and no, that’s not my usual criterion for liking something). If Beale Street Could Talk was my pick for the year’s best though (I was rather flabbergasted that it missed a Best Picture nomination; I much preferred it to Moonlight, which won).

  18. YancySkancy says:

    Well, older white audiences need anti-racism films too. Maybe more than most. 🙂 At any rate, I’m not inclined to bemoan the existence of a film that decries racism just because it didn’t hit all demos (if I did, I’d have to bemoan most films). It would definitely be a problem if it were the only film out there dealing with the issue, or the only such film that white audiences were seeing, but neither of those things is true. The film’s critics seem to believe that everyone who likes Green Book thinks, “Well, I’m sure glad that whole racism thing got cleared up; now I don’t have to see any Spike Lee films.” Its Oscar win may be annoying, but most Oscar wins are. They used to annoy me a great deal. Then I turned 14.

  19. leahnz says:

    so just to clear things up, like a case of particularly nasty gonorrhea:
    ‘greenbook’ the movie is a travesty and deserving of serious critique because Dr shirley’s iconic story, which includes the ‘the negro motorist green book’ on how to survive as a black traveller/artist in the segregated South – like literally survive, as in stay alive (this is Dr Shirley, real-life classical musician and icon of american history, just to be clear) – was greenlit into production by the white film industry and made by white guys for white guys as a movie not about Dr shirley and the greenbook at all – a true story that could have been crafted as historically instructive, touching and entertaining – but rather a heavily-disputed middlebrow mayonnaise narrative in which cracking-wise tony the chauffeur is centred as the protag who teaches priggish snob Shirley how live/love life and ‘act black’ properly with fried chicken and all. a slickly-produced actor’s showcase that people tend to like because viggo m and mahershala a have such fine chemistry and perform their roles with aplomb, cringey otherwise.
    imagine going to see this movie thinking you’re going to see a movie about dr shirley’s life and how he created the greenbook (i know i did) and learn something, and THIS is what you get. WHO GETS TO TELL THE STORY MATTERS ffs. this is a prime example.
    (the man who wrote it is a dump-supporting bigot, which is entirely unsurprising)

  20. Bob Burns says:

    David, if I am wrong, I am wrong. I am just telling you what I see from the outside looking in. Last year what I often saw, from the bloggers, was resentment that Green Book was being criticized on racial grounds, and this year, dog whistle hints, since the show, that 1917 , and the others, lost, because they were too white.

    I also read that the inclusiveness theme of the show was annoying.

    From the outside looking in…. Hollywood is run by a bunch of mostly white guys, selling a cultural product to a wildly diverse international audience. There is no message for Hollywood that is more important than selling a dream of multiculturalism, even though that word has been trashed by the right wing yahoos. It’s what Coke is selling in its ads and the moral of most Disney films. Survival. They don’t want to shrink back to US markets.

    I understand the resentment of the industry at being told it’s too white. Change is hard and giving up power hurts. But the least the publicists who run these things can do, is to put a lid on it as part of awards season, the vehicle for the US film industry to show its face to the world. For the US film industry, white grievance is suicidal. A little bit of it goes very far. Especially since the nominees are already so very white, usually.

  21. Stella's Boy says:

    I was already skeptical about Green Book because of who was telling the story and that increased once I realized whose story it was actually telling. Just have no interest whatsoever in seeing it because it looks like a movie designed to make white people feel good about themselves with an after-school special message about racism being bad. I’d also like to mention how staggeringly awful The Way Back looks with its blend of Hardball and Hoosiers. The sad white man is redeemed by the poor brown kids. That trailer makes me angry in a way few other trailers have. How are we making movies like this in 2020?

  22. Sam says:

    I just looked at Don Shirley’s wikipedia page and from what I saw, I think a story about his relationship as an artist to other artists would have been more interesting. Or his own story for that matter about what he experienced as the first or few non-whites in classical music in the 50’s.

    Too bad the title Green Book has been used now. I think it would have been much better for it to be used in a movie about a black family on a road trip in the 50’s.

  23. Stella's Boy says:

    Good points Sam. Years ago I remember hearing a story on NPR about green books some years back. It talked about people’s experiences driving through dangerous territory and looking for safe places to eat, sleep, get gas, etc. I realized how it’s history I know almost nothing about. And it’s fascinating. There’s such fertile ground there. Seems like almost any other approach would be more interesting than the one they took.

  24. palmtree says:

    I know someone personally who wrote a script around the real-life green book, but I don’t think it’s been produced yet. It’s possible this film derailed it.

  25. Sam F says:

    @palmtree: if that’s the case, too bad. I hope not though. With all the outlets today it can/should be made. It just won’t be called Green Book!

  26. Stella's Boy says:

    Add our idiot president to the anti-Parasite team. What a dipshit.

  27. Stella's Boy says:

    That is so good.

  28. YancySkancy says:

    Pretty sure Don Shirley didn’t create the green book. I too would love to see other stories about the green book and a movie about Don Shirley’s life overall. The Farrelly film covered only one brief period in his life, the part that intersected with Tony, and despite the usual dramatic license, it told that story well, and it wasn’t just Trumpers who liked it (in fact, its message, whether too “Afterschool Special” or not, is still anti-racism, and so not likely to warm the Republican cockles).

  29. YancySkancy says:

    Trump’s spiel about Parasite played like a hack comedy routine. I kept expecting him to say “What’s the deal with airplane food?” or “These kids today, I tell ya…” Blatant sop to his base. Why in the world should anyone care if the Best Picture Oscar goes to a non-English-language film? But of course he’s got to dig at Hollywood, basically suggesting that they’re so un-American they wouldn’t even give their top prize to an American film. And of course he held Gone with the Wind up as the ideal winner. I was amused and not surprised that he got a big reaction from the crowd for that, then a much more tepid response to his mention of Sunset Boulevard, which probably about five people in the crowd were familiar with — probably because they think it’s a movie about godless Hollywood heathens, just like that “little wise guy” Brad Pitt.

  30. leahnz says:

    “I know someone personally who wrote a script centering around the real-life green book, but I don’t think it’s been produced yet. It’s possible this film derailed it.”
    aw. not on topic but it never ceases to amaze me how often this is a thing

    (no shirley didn’t create the book it was his guidebook, obv, the ‘create’ thing above was me derping typing fast with no edit function, i should have said ‘follow”‘ not “create”. i don’t get the no edit function but whatever)

    also yancy fwiw that you are a white boomer dude is – to loosely quote blackadder – the least surprising thing in the history of things.
    “it told that story well”
    well no, that’s highly debatable since shirley’s close family disputes the son’s account on most every aspect – the son who’s a liar who amplifies a pathological liar and has to walk back his public bigotry because he got caught out. so his ‘story’ is basically a bunch of bullshit but nevermind, he made it up well? not really.
    see, it’s a form of racism to take a historical fact about an accomplished black man and make his white chauffer the protagonist of the tale. and justifying the whitewashing of dr shirley’s green book story is itself a form of racism, and the message of the movie is ‘anti-racist’ if you read trite cliches designed to make white guys comfortable and ‘anti-racism’ palatable, not least of which requires making a white guy the protagonist of a black man’s story.

  31. Stella's Boy says:

    Green Book looks like it was specifically made for old white racists. Like they made it so that it’s palatable for your racist uncle. He’ll get a nice, gentle message about racism being bad. To be fair I have not seen it and it’s unfair to judge movies sight unseen. But that’s the impression I got and why I have no desire to see it. They took fascinating history and made it bland for white people.

  32. Hcat says:

    I would say Green Book was racist in execution not intent. The co-opting of black history to serve a white protagonists (not a white savior but a benevolent palooka) story is insanely tone deaf in this day and age, it was bad enough back in the Glory era. But while it was made for old white people but certainly not old white racists.

    What are the chances that Trump has ever even watched Gone with the Wind? He doesn’t have the attention span to finish a sentence, there is no way he has the discipline to sit still through any movie much less a long epic.

  33. Stella's Boy says:

    That makes sense Hcat. And he has definitely never watched Gone with the Wind. Stephen Miller probably wrote that part of the speech.

  34. Hcat says:

    citing Birth of a Nation probably would have been tipping their hand too much.

  35. YancySkancy says:

    Me: “it told that story well”
    leah: “well no, that’s highly debatable…”

    Well, of course it’s debatable. Derp, as you say.

    “shirley’s close family disputes the son’s account on most every aspect…so his ‘story’ is basically a bunch of bullshit but nevermind, he made it up well? not really.”

    Tthere are audio tapes that back up much of what he said, including conversations with Don Shirley himself. Unquestionably, Tony is the primary protagonist, with most of the story from his POV, and I understand preferring it be told from Shirley’s POV.

    “see, it’s a form of racism to take a historical fact about an accomplished black man and make his white chauffer the protagonist of the tale. and justifying the whitewashing of dr shirley’s green book story is itself a form of racism”

    The historical facts of this green book story happened to both men. Undoubtedly certain details would’ve changed or been emphasized differently if the film had told the story more directly from Shirley’s POV. If liking the film is “justifying whitewashing” and therefore “racist,” I guess I’ll stand over here by Kareem and Belafonte, who defended it. Maybe they’ll deflect a little heat off of me. 🙂

  36. SideshowBill says:

    Somebody tell Trump that 3 Mexicans, a black man and a woman have won Best Director/Picture in the last decade, too, and maybe he’ll drop dead if a heart attack. Racist fucking prick.

    Pardon my language but goddamnit I hate him so completely

  37. leahnz says:

    dumb corleone can’t read so how did he even ‘watch’ parasite (i have an image of goebbels miller reading the subtitles aloud to him, which is so vomit-inducing i try to block it out but it’s burned into my psyche now)

    yancy the hilarious thing is that i don’t think you understand that you kinda just keep proving my point.
    first of all, you’re just making stuff up. i’ve seen this particular one a lot: i didn’t say ‘liking’ the film is racist. i said ‘justifying the whitewashing of the film’ is racist. MAJOR difference. you are doing the latter. one can like the film AND admit that whitewashing the story is racist, and not defend it as you are clearly doing. see how that works?
    also, if you look at the iconic story of shirley and the greenbook (which was covered in cursory detail in the jim crow era segment of my US history paper at uni, which is why i was keen to see the cinematic take) and seriously propose that the story is equally weighted as one historically about two men – shirley, who in doing his tour was in mortal danger, and the white guy who drove him around – is peak white guy nonsense. trotting out the token black guys at the end of your argument is an esp nice touch tho. heat off!
    close sources to dr shirley – family – say tony was not anything like the influence and ‘friend’ portrayed in the film. nothing is ‘on tape’.
    the audio stuff you reference – at least what i listened to online ages ago, still there I would imagine, unless there’s a bunch i didn’t listen to, which is possible – is, again, mostly TONY’s version of events as he “recounts” said version to his son. there’s little to no corroboration. it’s curious that you give tony the benefit of the doubt over close family members of shirley, that you believe what tony tells his son is the gospel truth because he said it on tape. just curious, does the concept of white guys lying – as liars, as ego-trippers and -fluffers, as twisters of the truth, falsehood embellishers and tellers of misinformation – not occur to a certain segment of other white guys? because it sure doesn’t seem like it. boy do i have bad news for y’all

  38. YancySkancy says:

    leah: Yes, I understand that one can like the film and still find that it whitewashes the story (though I don’t think whitewashing is the correct term, since that’s generally taken to mean casting whites in ethnic roles, but I take your meaning — and maybe the term now encompasses that meaning). When I said “IF liking the film is racist, etc.” I didn’t mean to imply that you had characterized it that way. Sorry for the confusion.

    I’ve said plainly that the film does hew more to Tony’s POV than Don’s, though they both get ample screen time and character arcs, etc. It’s true that it wasn’t told as a black man’s story. It was told as the story of a white man and a black man’s shared experience, and I’m sure that having the project originate with the white man’s family is what led to his arc being the spine of the story. I don’t see how that invalidates the story in and of itself, however, any more than Tony’s experience would’ve been invalidated by putting the focus more on Don. I’d love to see the Don Shirley Story, told from the facts of his life to the extent that we know them, and I understand his family’s objections to Green Book, though I’m not convinced they have enough additional info about the depicted incident to make some definitive version. I don’t think any of them were there, just as Tony’s son wasn’t there, so everything is anecdotal. It’s apparent that the son didn’t seek out anecdotes other than his father’s (and whatever tapes he had of Don), and it’s legitimate to criticize that, even if the Shirley family had had no other pertinent details about the events depicted. I can imagine a version of the film that has a few more Shirley-family-approved anecdotes sprinkled throughout that they would sign off on, and it’s a shame that the producers didn’t explore that possibility. They might’ve saved themselves a lot of backlash.

    As for “making things up,” I never said I took Tony’s version as ‘the gospel truth.’ But it seems to be the primary basis of the film, because his son had access to his version. I would indeed be as big an idiot as you seem to think I am if I thought it weren’t possible that his version was embellished, twisted or dishonest. I just think those are also things that come with the territory of screenwriting, for reasons that may or may not include racism. I may have trotted out “token black guys” (your phrase, not mine) at the end of my comment as a humorous aside, but I do think it’s worth noting that the film wasn’t universally dismissed by black viewers and commenters.

    I can intellectually understand every objection to this film without thinking that they negate the virtues I see in it. I enjoyed the film. I didn’t require it to be perfect or to be the last word on its subject. I’m sure Peter Farrelly wouldn’t make such a claim for it. I found it funny and heartwarming and, yes, cliched in some of its storytelling. I want stories from all sides of our racial history. We were in it TOGETHER. Yes, until more recently than is conscionable, those stories have come from white creators with a white perspective. That is changing, but I don’t see why part of the change should be shutting down or belittling sincere efforts like Green Book as though it’s the only game (or voice) in town. I get that winning the Oscar made it a big story and the perfect target for every historical grievance against whitewashing, as you define it, and the white savior trope. But much of the discourse around it has the whiff of trying to make ideological allies (however flawed) into unnecessary enemies. I think that was the impetus behind Kareem’s defense of the film.

  39. palmtree says:

    Yancy, I actually think it’s incredibly valuable to have stories about becoming less racist from the white perspective. It’s necessary especially in these times. However, there’s a difference between doing that responsibly or doing it in a way that still sidelines and stereotypes black people. I can’t say Green Book is completely guilty of that because I haven’t seen it, but the fact that it won basically means it should be held to a higher standard as the Academy itself has raised it up as the winner of its top prize. I get that you liked it, but did it deserved Best Picture? That might be the real question.

  40. palmtree says:

    Come to think of it…3 Billboards had the same problem. It was supposedly anti-racist, but did it in a way that did nothing to actually address racism. Same as Crash too. Green Book might have gotten a pass if this type of irresponsible filmmaking were not already part of a disturbing trend.

  41. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree: I honestly don’t think Don Shirley is “sidelined” in Green Book. He gets nearly as much screen time as Tony. I also don’t think he’s stereotyped. He was a pretty unique individual, and I think that comes across, even if his family disputes certain details. As to whether it “deserved” Best Picture, I always say “deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” Since the awards are the subjective, consensus vote of a rather large body of industry professionals, if it got the votes, it “earned” the win. As I believe I said above, my own choice would’ve been If Beale Street Could Talk, which wasn’t nominated. Among the actual nominees, I didn’t care for Bohemian Rhapsody or Vice. If I’d had a ballot, I’d have been choosing primarily between Green Book, Roma and The Favourite. Might’ve flipped a coin. BlacKkKlansman would’ve followed those three, then A Star Is Born and Black Panther. Non-nominated films I liked better than most of the nominees include Support the Girls, Private Life, Eighth Grade, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Shoplifters and 3 Faces. I like to think these choices at least prove that a “white male boomer” is capable of appreciating stories outside his experience, regardless of his take on Green Book.

  42. palmtree says:

    Yancy, I’m not disputing your taste. I like lots of movies that I also don’t think deserve a Best Picture award. What I want out of a Best Picture winner is different than what I want out of “liking a movie.” For one thing, I want it to be truly thoughtful about what it’s doing, to have depth and not just surface level pleasantries (even though that can be likeable), etc.

    So my question was not about if the process was fair or anything like that. It’s more a matter of when you look back on that year and see that Green Book won, does it fill you with some amount of pride that the Academy did something good or do you merely go “meh”? Many years it’s “meh” and I think Green Book fits that bill, even if you liked the movie. I liked the King’s Speech, but I consider it to be a “meh” Best Picture film too.

  43. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree, I’m not sure I’ve agreed with the Academy’s Best Picture choices more than a small handful of times in their history. Even when I like one, it rarely matches my own pick. I guess that’s why I never get too bent out of shape about their choices anymore (it was a different story when I was a kid). As much as I truly enjoyed Green Book, I probably would say it was a “meh” choice compared to If Beale Street Could Talk, which had me mesmerized from beginning to end and felt far more original (even if the Wong Kar-wei influence is undeniable).

  44. leahnz says:

    this is benevolent BS really
    yancy this isn’t actually about you and your personal preferences as fascinating as they may be (to you). that white guys just NEED to commandeer true black stories so that white guys can soft-peddle anti-racism to old white guys who need reminding that ‘racism is bad’ in the most comfortable, non-confrontational bed-of-cotton sentimental cliche ways that requires centring white guys – and then reward themselves for it to boot – is precisely part of the reason your country remains a simmering cesspool of racism and bigotry, something which has become even more apparent in the last few years now the veil’s been lifted and the gurgling poison gushes forth for all to see.
    the myth y’all tell yourselves: don’t challenge, don’t confront, softly softly, make us nice and comfy and we’ll come round eventually, you’ll see.
    haha NOPE! girl please
    this approach – of appeasement – has achieved jack shit historically and currently continues to do precisely nothing. modest gains against the reign of white patriarchy/supremacy in the US – installed and maintained by brutal oppression and systemic exclusion – have been achieved only by agitation by marginalised groups rising up and fighting the status quo, most often at great cost and through personal sacrifice, by making people uncomfortable with the truth of other viewpoints and lives, challenging installed norms and demanding change.
    the time is now for authenticity, stories that address and confront, uncomfortable truths, complex representations. enough fluffing and soft-peddling to fragile egos, it’s pathetic.

  45. YancySkancy says:

    leah: Seems like a lot to put on the handful of “soft-peddled anti-racism” movies that get made in a given decade or two. I can see how they might be ineffectual in broad terms, but even a comparatively benign anti-racist film like Green Book would seem confrontational to a rabid racist, even if it’s also preaching to the comfortably converted. It’s not like these films are billion-dollar-grossing blockbusters that shut out the possibility of other voices being heard. I grew up in Kentucky, and stories like this, which brought anti-racist messages to white people (many of whom weren’t particularly self-aware of their biases), could be quite enlightening to kids who were surrounded by casual and not-so-casual racism in their daily lives. To Kill a Mockingbird and In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? might not have been made by marginalized filmmakers, but they were impactful and did indeed push against the status quo and make people “uncomfortable,” challenge norms and demand change.

    I agree that now that “the truth of other viewpoints” has become more accessible via filmmakers like Spike Lee, Ava Du Vernay, Barry Jenkins, etc., that the soft-peddled versions aren’t as important now, but they still fulfill a function and send a message that can get through to some who need to hear it. A kid seeing Green Book may not take to the streets in protest, but it might be the first time they see something that puts a human face on the history of racial tensions in this country, or make them believe that someone who was raised among bigots can transcend that and see an “other” as a human and a friend. Like I said, I want ALL the stories and ALL the positive messages. There are people of every stripe and temperament who need anti-racist messages. Some need a little honey in the vinegar, while others need a sledgehammer. If I gently sit a racist friend down and fail in my reasoned effort to show them the light, have I done harm? Or have I maybe planted a seed that other experiences may water? I used to rag on Stanley Kramer for “comforting the afflicted” until I looked back and realized he was one of the few making any attempt at all to introduce liberal messages to the mainstream culture, and it was only in retrospect, from a position of having been positively influenced by those messages, that they seemed “insufficient.” I still don’t think he was a great filmmaker, sometimes not even good, but he stood up when others wouldn’t, and helped pave a path that bolder voices could then walk down. The success of a Green Book doesn’t negate the impact of a BlacKkKlansman or Sorry to Bother You or Mudbound, et al, even if it pulls in more dollars and awards. I get that the Oscars have a symbolic, historical cachet of sorts, even with all the criticism they get, that makes them seem more important than they are and frustrates those who want stronger, angrier messages to have the same impact. And so a Green Book win seems like a wasted opportunity. But I guarantee you the film’s message wasn’t wasted on all of those who saw and liked it. It may have comforted good liberal Academy voters unconscious of their biases, but the attention it got brought it to a wider audience, many of whom may have needed that “comforting” gateway to enlightenment about race in this country, hopefully as a stepping stone to more knowledge and a desire to effect change.

  46. Stella's Boy says:

    Has anyone else had the misfortune of sitting through the 2019 Shaft? Yikes. I like the 2000 version. Or at least I remember liking it. The new one has me questioning that. He actually calls his son a “homo” at one point and the entire movie consists of Shaft calling his son a pussy, asking him if he likes pussy, and pointing out all the things he does that suggest he isn’t into pussy. There are countless scenes that entirely consist of that sequence: you’re acting like a ____, do you even like _______, that sweater isn’t something a man who likes _______would wear. It is so bizarre and unfunny and homophobic and awful. And that doesn’t even touch on the misogyny that’s present from start to finish either. I expected the millennial jokes and some macho blather. It’s Shaft after all. But watching something like that in 2020 is surreal. I didn’t even make it to the end. One of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. Sorry didn’t mean to derail the conversation but had to get that off my chest.

  47. palmtree says:

    Yancy, I think to summarize what you’re saying with what I’m saying…Yes, let’s have the middle of the road, white friendly, anti-Racist films. Okay! But unless that film can work for a diverse audience (i.e. the ones for whom the anti-racist message is supposed to benefit), let’s not give it Oscars. Fair?

  48. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree, I’m not sure there’s any “fair” when it comes to Oscars. But as the voting body is made more diverse, wins for such films should become more rare. Might be a while yet though.

  49. leahnz says:

    yancy you fundamentally misunderstand what i’m saying:
    i don’t give a hoot about ‘what you want’. the culture is swimming in what guys like you ‘want’. that’s part of the problem. i don’t care what you ‘agree’ and ‘don’t agree’ with me about in this regard — and the hubris in explaining the above to me like i haven’t heard this crapolla a kazillion times before is a both amusing in its pedantry and ultimately kinda frightening, because i’m coming to understand something i think i’m resistant to: you simply can not seem to see beyond the confines of your identity.
    the way you talk about this stuff is vaguely nauseating; there are no real stakes – racism, sexism, bigotry, it’s an ideological/intellectual exercise, a subject of debate, something you contemplate, you’ve ‘observed’ rather than one’s lived experience being on the receiving end, so it’s fine to defend the soft-pedal and tippy-toe around fragile egos, ultimately it effects you fuck all. you can patiently and gently mollycoddle low-key racists in your family or circle and think this is the answer, your identity affords you the privilege to do so.
    re greenbook (just to keep it simple on one subject) i’ll try one last time:
    if in order to ‘reach’ white guys who need reminding that ‘oh my gosh racism is bad’, if in order to do this one must soft peddle it by CENTERING A GOOD WHITE MAN in the narrative – because otherwise you make white guys uncomfortable and alienate them – then you are, in fact, PANDERING TO and REINFORCING a major racist stereotype largely responsible for perpetuating/maintaining structural racist white patriarchy. the white man must be centered.
    you can’t claim a movie is ‘anti-racism’ and at the same time rely first and foremost on having to make a white man the protagonist of a black man’s true story to make it palatable to white guys, because centering a white man in this manner to get a message through to a white audience IS PERPETUATING STRUCTURAL RACISM. i’m not sure how else to say this. pandering to and perpetuating structural racism (even if somehow well-intentioned and rationalised) is not ‘anti-racist’.
    tell the black man’s story. tell don shirley’s story well with complexity, nuance and heart. the leading man of his own story. if white guys can’t deal with a black man in the lead for a period anti-racist parable, if they can’t face that challenge, then guess what? it’s because their racism, conscious and implicit, is NOT in fact some rational intellectual viewpoint moved by soft-peddled movie pandering. what you’ve described exhaustively above is the pandering white man’s bargain, designed brilliantly to maintain power structures and one of the reasons structural racism is self-perpetuating and so slow to fade into obscurity.
    (are things changing, getting so much better? not so sure sure, looking around)
    fwiw putting ‘heat of the night’ in your examples is weird because v tibbs actually is the protagonist of the story in all its largely non-pandering glory, rather unique for its era)

  50. cadavra says:

    Stella’s Boy, SHAFT just happened to be my favorite movie of last year. (Not the best–that would be IRISHMAN–but my favorite.) Saw it twice in theatres and Day One bought the Blu, something I almost never do. It seems to me you totally missed the point of the film. It’s about a father who has refused to move with the times, still acting and thinking it’s the 1970s, and the “woke” son he’s trying to connect with. The ultimate joke, of course, is that the only way they can bring down the bad guys is to do it Dad’s way–and Granddad’s, with a 76-year-old Roundtree still kicking ass like nobody’s business. It was a truly joyous film–the lady friend I brought with me the second time liked it even more than I did–and there’s nothing more entertaining than Sam Jackson swearing up a storm in an R-rated movie. (The Lawrence Fishburne joke still puts me on the floor.) You need to rewatch it with a fresh, open mind–it’s supposed to be fun, not a lecture on behaving badly.

  51. Stella's Boy says:

    Ugh I did not miss the point. It’s not like I’m the only person who pointed out the issues with this movie. Don’t be an asshole man. The whole you didn’t get it thing is so obtuse and stupid. I get what it’s going for with the father/son angle. It isn’t rocket science. It just doesn’t work. As I said, it repeats the same joke countless times and it didn’t work at all for me. The old macho homophobe who hasn’t moved on and the enlightened son who just maybe can reach him is not remotely funny or joyous. It’s tired and repetitive. I got it fine man. Jesus. Just didn’t like it. It’s called an opinion. I can’t believe people still trot out the you didn’t get it shit. The worst.

  52. YancySkancy says:

    leah: Apparently, my long-ass posts are not “exhaustive” enough, because you persist in thinking that my “hubristic” explanations are somehow dismissive of stories that center on black protagonists, when all I’ve been saying is that I don’t think the Green Book babies have to be thrown out with the bathwater as we hopefully move toward more progressive narratives. There’s more than one way to make someone check their racism. Maybe in some utopia, all it takes is great stories about black people, told with complexity, nuance and heart. But if racists (whether of the casual, unconscious or virulent kind) don’t line up for those stories, maybe a Green Book will give them a nudge in the right direction as earlier such efforts did to previous generations. No, those films won’t dismantle structural racism, but if they make even one unthinking person look inward and take a step toward change, I have a hard time dismissing them out of hand. I shared some of my personal history above, because when I look at certain of my family and friends, I can’t help but think ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ Seeing such ‘Racism 101’ films as The Defiant Ones and To Kill a Mockingbird unquestionably made me sensitive to racial issues at a young age, while simultaneously growing up with great-grandparents and uncles who freely used the “N” word, and made jokes about my “little black girlfriend” when I brought home wallet-size class pictures of my grade-school classmates. I make no greater claims for such films, but I think the claim I do make ain’t chopped liver. As I grew up, I realized their limitations and have fully embraced the newer films that DO more directly challenge the “structural racist white patriarchy.” I suppose to the extent that I support both approaches, I do want to “have it both ways.” I’m sorry if all this amuses, frightens and nauseates you.

    By the way, I included In the Heat of the Night in my list because, even though it has a black protagonist, it was made by white filmmakers and intended to appeal to the majority white audience as well as the black audience. I agree that it was far less pandering than the status quo, and that’s probably why it still plays so well today (I rewatched it just a few months ago, and it still feels contemporary in its technique and themes).

  53. palmtree says:

    “maybe a Green Book will give them a nudge in the right direction as earlier such efforts did to previous generations. ”

    Yancy, I think that’s the problem. We’re still using an old paradigm to create films today. Society has changed a lot, and while it sounds ridiculous that mere stories can dismantle structural racism, it’s actually mere stories that do a lot of work to reinforce it from Birth of a Nation on down. We need new storytelling and new storytellers to go beyond what the Defiant Ones or In the Heat of the Night did. We live in a completely different ecosystem today and to believe we still need the same coddling audiences did in the 60s is just a shame.

  54. leahnz says:

    sorry, is this like a gag or something and i’m just not in on it? are you actually trying to prove my point in some weird ongoing performance art type deal playing a repetitive gormfart, yancy? because the sheer entitlement on display is really rather something to behold, as is the inability to understand even in the slightest thing outside your brainscript – and i’m not easily shocked!

    so maybe greenbook will give them a nudge in the right direction?

    hint: THIS IS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM, not all your indoctrinated bs which bandaid on cancer stuff

    or don’t, you’re on a roll

  55. YancySkancy says:

    leah: Good lord. It’s like you only skim my posts or something (understandable, as they’re too long). I think I overexplain myself, and then you still don’t get my points. I said absolutely NOTHING about wanting me or any other white guy to be the center of everything, in film or anything else. I explained why I think Green Book and other “Racism 101” films have their place, but I also took great pains to acknowledge that they are NOT sufficient and we need more progressive narratives. Did you not read the following passage at all? —

    “As I grew up, I realized their limitations and have fully embraced the newer films that DO more directly challenge the ‘structural racist white patriarchy.’”

    I have no idea what in the hell is so entitled, dense or objectionable about what I’m saying. I want ALL the stories. Yes, I want more films with racial themes to be centered on black protagonists than white ones, JUST LIKE YOU DO. Hell, if ALL racially themed films from here on out feature black protagonists, that’s a-okay with me. I literally said up above that I want a Don Shirley movie where he’s the protagonist.

    It seems that just because I took positive messages from films that you and I both deem insufficient in other ways, I’m some kind of unthinking a-hole who wants ALL films about race to comfort the afflicted. I have at no point said or suggested anything of the sort, and your continuing refusal or inability to see this seems like just as much of a “weird ongoing performance art” as my posts seem to you. And now you’re getting frankly insulting. “ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU GOTTA BE THE CENTRE OF EVERYTHING SINGLE THING AAAAALLL THEEEE TIIIIIME.” How you reached that conclusion based on my defense of Green Book is beyond me. You would only have a point if I also said that all racially themed films should be told from a white viewpoint, or that white audiences don’t need black viewpoints to reach an anti-racist outlook. Or that I think white-centered anti-racist stories are superior to black-centered ones. Or that black-centered narratives shouldn’t be made, because they don’t pander enough to my delicate white ego. But I didn’t say ANY of those things, nor did I say anything that suggests I believe those things. Because I don’t believe them. The fact that you seem to think I do is a poor reflection on my writing, your comprehension, or both.

    As far as I can see, our only real disagreement is that you don’t think films like Green Book should exist, whereas I think they have their place. I sincerely hope that their place diminishes further with time, and that more white people will seek out and advocate for films that don’t pander to them, films from a black perspective. And of course more films that just tell black stories, without caring much whether some white person fully “gets it” or not. I honestly thought all this was understood in what I was saying. I feel like I’ve spelled things out more in this post and perhaps clarified any misunderstandings, but I look forward to hearing how I just don’t get it and never will because I’m white and male and a boomer, three accidents of birth that apparently can’t be transcended.

  56. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree: “We need new storytelling and new storytellers to go beyond what the Defiant Ones or In the Heat of the Night did.”

    I agree, and said so.

    “We live in a completely different ecosystem today and to believe we still need the same coddling audiences did in the 60s is just a shame.”

    I agree it’s a shame. It’s a shame that anti-racism films, books, plays, poems and speeches haven’t wiped racism from the earth. It’s a shame that as time marches on, we live in a seemingly less enlightened racial climate than we did just a few years ago. It’s a shame we have a President who does nothing to ease racial tensions and everything to stoke it. It’s a shame that some people still need a coddling approach. But I don’t think it’s a shame to be moved by a film like Green Book just because it fits an older paradigm, as long as it’s one selection on the smorgasbord and not the whole buffet. I do feel like the balance is moving in the right direction. In some ways, Green Book is now the anomaly among modern racially themed films. Without looking it up, I feel like more of these stories are coming from black filmmakers these days than white ones. Not enough, and not seen widely enough, but they’re getting made.

  57. leahnz says:

    ok sorry this is just flat-out hilarious at this point
    (this kinda takes the cake: “I agree it’s a shame. It’s a shame that anti-racism films, books, plays, poems and speeches haven’t wiped racism from the earth. It’s a shame that as time marches on, we live in a seemingly less enlightened racial climate than we did just a few years ago. It’s a shame we have a President who does nothing to ease racial tensions and everything to stoke it. It’s a shame that some people still need a coddling approach…” holy shit it’s like you don’t even realise that the answer to this UNKNOWABLE CONUNDRUM of why racism (and sexism/bigotry yadayada) is still so pervasive is in your last sentence and you seriously don’t seem to EVEN CONTEMPLATE IT. see my post above! this can’t be real)

    sorry yancy i read every goddamn word of your posts (do you read a single one of mine and attempt to process my meaning before composing your next one because DAMN this level of lack of self-awareness doesn’t seem possible). you compose some lengthy prose taking some middling position that sounds like stuff you’ve read that sounds super reasonable to you and then include little key points that contradict much of what you purport to “mean” and also provide a glimpse into the pathology that underpins what you really DO mean (and this is not the first time by a longshot. still not convinced this isn’t le satyre grande)
    for example, the kicker:
    “but I look forward to hearing how I just don’t get it and never will because I’m white and male and a boomer, three accidents of birth that apparently can’t be transcended.”

    aw, miss me with this victim complex. this is what this is REALLY about, and you know it. this projection. YOU are the real victim here. why so anxious to be the oppressed because of your identity? 5 mins of criticism of the status quo got y’all on freakin prozac, terrified to be treated the way marginalized people have been historically, that’s my theory and i’m sticking with it.
    weirdly this social/cultural debate and movement in time ISN’T ABOUT YOU, PERSONALLY, as hard as that may be to believe. you just don’t “get it” yancy because YOU DON’T WANT TO haha, mystery solved. i think playing the stereotype is just your jam.
    newsflash: a metric shitton of white male boomers DO GET IT. so what’s your excuse now? you give even DP a run as the rationalising king around here, it’s like a dark art. this is just the weirdest thing ever, i can’t get over it, like a train wreck, can’t not look at it

  58. YancySkancy says:

    Help me, Jesus. Of course I know this issue isn’t about me personally. I only made my little “victim complex” joke because you literally made it personal by insulting me, you know, personally. I made it as a dig at you, not an “oh poor misunderstood me” confession. I’m fully aware of the historical privilege I’ve enjoyed as a white male and of the way whites have co-opted the stories of black people for the edification of other whites and to pat themselves on the back. For you to say that I don’t “get it” requires willfully ignoring or misinterpreting most of what I’ve written, which I should be used to by now, since this is how all our discussions end up. I admit I’m “rationalizing” my reasons for liking Green Book and refusing to condemn out of hand, the way you do, other such films. I think they served a purpose, and perhaps still can. How does this one belief, even if naive or misguided, negate everything else I’ve said, most of which seems in line with your own beliefs? Why do you ignore everything I’ve said on the subject of racially themed films with black protagonists? Is it because even though it echoes your own statements, it doesn’t fit your theory of what I’m REALLY about? Do you think I’m lying so I’ll seem less like a clueless asshole?

    I assure you I’m projecting nothing. I don’t feel like a victim. I realize a metric shit-ton of white male boomers DO GET IT, and I believe I’m one of them. I’m just in a sub-set that doesn’t think Green Book and its ilk, even if we agree that they coddle white audiences, are the big reason we still have a race problem. The movies reflect culture, but people aren’t racists because they’re not seeing the right movies. A kid who’s never seen a movie in his life can grow up racist because he learns it from his family, his community. I could’ve easily been that kid. Luckily, my personal experiences with black people and non-racist white people led me down a different path, even as I realized I’d never face the same challenges as my black friends, and even as I realized the positive messages about race that I got from art and media were all too often from a white perspective. But that stuff still played some part in my “enlightenment,” especially in the days when other voices were silenced. Now we have more of those voices, and hopefully many more will come. In light of this, Green Book may be just as unnecessary as you say. I liked it anyway. So if that one little opinion, amid all the verbiage I’ve been churning up here in an effort to be understood, is enough to brand me hopelessly clueless (even as I’m saying in plain English that I “get” the rest of it), then fine. Continue to enjoy the trainwreck.

  59. cadavra says:

    Jeez, Stell, simmer down. I apologize for misinterpreting your reaction to the film. We clearly saw it different ways, and that’s cool.

  60. Stella's Boy says:

    Thank you. I appreciate that. Sorry for getting worked up but that’s a pet peeve of mine.

  61. cadavra says:

    Hey, we all go a little mad sometimes, to quote a certain psycho. 😉

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