Morning-after media coverage of the 90th Oscars proves just how politicized the entertainment industry has become and how much he Fourth Estate is on board. The Washington Post’s top headlines for Monday was were all concerned with how political -- or non-political -- the preening celebrity circus was.
The Post’s top story was “‘The Shape of Water’ wins best picture at a show laced with social and political statement.” The paper was wowed by director Guillermo del Toro’s aren’t-we-just-wonderful acceptance speech. “I think the greatest thing our art does, and our industry does, is erase the lines in the sand,” said the man who made a movie about a woman having sex with a fish. “ We should continue doing that, when the world tells us to make them deeper.”
According to the Post, the event “confronted its own mistreatment of women, and defied the isolationist and nationalist tone set by President Trump, in between doling out golden statuettes.” Actually, it was all predictable grandstanding. There was a call to support dreamers, some anti-NRA rhetoric and Frances McDormand’s notable “inclusion rider” speech, given for the sake of more female representation in Hollywood. Wapo ended the piece with a quote from Shape of Water producer J. Miles Dale, who said, “Frances is going to start a revolution, I think it started tonight.”
Another top Post headline was “That boring Oscars show might have helped soothe Hollywood’s year of being fed up.” The Post’s Hank Stuever said the poor, beleaguered Tinseltown needed these Oscars to be a smooth, quiet, and uncontroversial affair. It was just the thing “for an industry trying to shuck off its past.” And really, who hasn’t been rooting for our courageous celebrities to put the petty sexual abuse of women and children behind them?
Stuever also joined the swoon over host Jimmy Kimmel. The genius behind “Girls Jumping on Trampolines” now wishes he were “penis-free,” and has become “St. James Kimmel the Just” in the process.
Kimmel merited his own Post headline, or course. Emily Yahr talked about his rebuke to Hollywood for its mistreatment of women, during which he joked that Hollywood is so clueless on women that “we made a movie called ‘What women want,’ and it starred Mel Gibson.”
That’s a really crushing “rebuke,” especially considering that Red Sparrow is currently in theaters -- the intensely exploitative film that star Jennifer Lawrence said claimed was a liberating experience for her.
On the other hand, the brave Kimmel went right after Vice President Mike Pence, someone who’s gone on record (to hoots of derision from the left) about respecting his wife and honoring his marriage vows.. Kimmel thought it an insult to Pence that there was a gay movie among the nominees: “We don’t make films like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence.”
As for the ritual of cultural debasement known as the red carpet, The Post’s Robin Givhan noted that there wasn’t much political going on outside the event. “Instead, the solidarity seemed to be more in actions and attitude.” And get this: the red carpet interviews didn’t yield a wealth of “substance.” Can you credit such an assertion? But Givhan was understanding. “And that’s no one’s fault,” she stressed. “The red carpet simply is not an environment conducive to rich and thoughtful conversations.” Ya don’t say?
Still, “The clothes made personal statements about who these actors are and how they see themselves. Or at least how they want the public to see them. That may not be political or social activism. But it’s still meaningful.”
Washington Post journalism, 2018: Celebrities -- is there anything they can’t give meaning to?