My son Robby happens to be one of the smartest people I know. I guess that makes me a typical braggadocio dad, right? No, seriously, he’s a typical American 22-year-old who happens to have a Latino last name and also happens to be a film student. He’s a walking encyclopedia when it comes to just about everything, but especially movies. And I figure that makes him the right person to gauge the Latino millennial temperament when it comes to the earthshaking revelation that the “Oscars are white.”
While it took the majority of us most of our lives to figure out that the fix was in when it comes to politics, the news, the Oscars and most other categories that involve a corruptible and imperfect selection system, most young people today start their lives with that awareness firmly acquired. Now, if they could only do what we couldn’t.
That’s right, it was the top trending topic on Twitter and just about everywhere else as the Academy Awards rolled out, so I wanted to know what Robby thinks. His answer: “Who gives a s**t?” Somewhat shocked by his rapid response, all I could muster back at him was: “What do you mean, doesn’t it matter to you?”
Hearing my question, Robby doubled down. “No, it doesn’t matter,” he fired off. “You know why it doesn’t matter?” he asks as if baiting me to elicit a typical square adult response. “It doesn’t matter because it’s nothing but a popularity contest, it doesn’t have anything to do with quality filmmaking.”
Robby’s point about the Oscars ‘snub’ controversy is that there is no controversy, because they’re not really picking the best at the their craft anyway. By his argument, getting an Oscar doesn’t make you the best actor or director; it just makes you the one they chose to give an award to for a host of reasons including politics, money, marketing and, yes, even at some level; gender, age and ethnic bias.
Did you hear that J.K. Simmons, who got best supporting actor trophy for "Whiplash"? Did you hear that Patricia Arquette, who got the same for "Boyhood"? You won, but the selection hardly makes you the best at what you do. Same goes for Big Hero Six for animated film and many of the other winners, which I could continue to name, but that would be as boring as the Oscars themselves.
According to a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times in 2012, the power behind the Academy Awards is old, white and male. Their survey found the Academy is made up of voters who are on average about 62 years old. They are also 77 percent male and 94 percent white.
So no, it’s not about black and white. That’s just a part of it. It’s about money, marketing, popularity, corporatism, age, the ‘peter’ principal, ethnicity, the ‘who you know’ rule, race, regionalism and probably some sex to boot. Does that sound familiar?
It should sound familiar, because those same accusations are what we’ve been hearing on the TV news business all this week. The Brian Williams scandal will forever be remembered as the bellwether moment. I’ll always remember where I was when he heard it. You see, we all kind of knew that network news was, among other things, just a popularity concert, but we didn’t know to what extent. Now, we know.
In fact, let me re-insert from above the criteria used for picking Oscar winners, which also seems to apply to the state of our news coverage and news presenters these days. What’s it about? It’s about money, marketing, popularity, corporatism, age, the ‘peter’ principal, ethnicity, the ‘who you know’ rule, race, regionalism and probably some sex to boot? Let me ask again, does that sound familiar? (Thanks Brian!)
Millennials, like Robby, have our tainted system figured out. While it took the majority of us most of our lives to figure out that the fix was in when it comes to politics, the news, the Oscars and most other categories that involve a corruptible and imperfect selection system, most young people today start their lives with that awareness firmly acquired.
Now, if they could only do what we couldn’t. If they could only change it back to what it used to be, make it even better or even better yet, just make it go away.