by Trey Arline
Let us all collectively sigh in relief because this is one of the rare years where the Oscars got it right: the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the most deserving film of the year and it is truly a film that will live on and be appreciated in time.
Parasite, a dramedy directed by South Korean Bong Joon-ho, took home Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director for Bong, Best Original Screenplay and the big one: Best Picture, becoming the first non-English language film to ever do so and makes him the first filmmaker to win four awards in a single year. It is a watershed moment for Asian and foreign cinema and one that is certainly going to be remembered months after award season is over. But with all due respect, these awards don’t need to validate Parasite or Bong’s greatness anymore.
The Oscars and Grammy’s in recent years have fallen on hard times, in terms of both the quality of winners and viewership. It’s also become a bit of a cultural battleground that somehow anger everyone; conservatives think Hollywood needs to shut up and be grateful, liberals think it ultimately does nothing but marginalize women and minorities. Oddly enough there is some merit to both arguments.
While celebrities should be able to exercise their right to free speech as much as anyone else, many celebrities window-dress certain issues they may not be well read on and even sideline their own arguments out the gate. Natalie Portman wearing a dress honoring female directors who were snubbed this year while also having a production company where she doesn’t employ them does seem disingenuous.
One might think that Parasite’s victory is just a way to make up for giving the Best Picture Oscar last year to Green Book – a white savior narrative that painfully disrespects the memory of Don Shirley in favor of another white face people can latch their feels onto so they don’t get to acknowledge racism – over the breathtaking Roma. Viewers were not pleased, and neither was most of the crowd. Seeing a crowd of all-white acting nominees – save for one black woman who would portray a slave – says the message loud enough as to what they think of capable acting performances.
The Grammys have failed to adequately honor the best in music too, and are even more egregious about this. The snub of Kendrick Lamar in 2012 were so outlandish that the Grammys have been retroactively and very deservedly) making up for it every year ever since. Artists have become so fed up with these awards they have taken the Grammys to task at the show themselves, such as Tyler the Creator, Drake, and Bon Iver after winning one.
The creators themselves are fed up with these awards and it seems that the general public is too; the Oscars this year hit their lowest-ever ratings and the Grammys didn’t fare well either. One could contribute the latter to the tragedy of Kobe Bryant passing, but overall viewership of the Grammy’s and other award shows have been on the decline for a long time. Their irregular schedule and being so out of step with contemporary music has made them almost an afterthought to any music fan, casual or otherwise.
These awards were always meant to celebrate the best of their respective mediums but it seems that the mediums and the audience has outgrown them and they don’t know how to stop it. There seem to be less of a reason to still have the Grammy’s, Oscars, or Emmy’s around and less reason to respect them. The people getting the awards don’t seem all that into doing it and the audience isn’t connecting with them. I believe it is time that these award shows quietly take their leave and let the rest of the country decide what is and isn’t worth giving our time to. Not too scary a thought is it?