I didn’t watch the Academy Awards presentation Sunday night, and, truth be told, I haven’t for years. All I cared about was the results (or, really, one result: Gary Oldman’s Best Actor win), for, as I reasoned, I’d find out what I wanted to know the next morning without the headache of watching a bunch of preening pseudo-intellectuals “bravely” declare their support of the latest causes célèbres.
Give Hollywood credit on such matters: when it comes to predictability, they do not disappoint. Next morning I found the ceremony had unfolded according to script—one suspects quite literally—from Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue to Frances McDormand’s “inclusion” speech. And were they brave! Take Kimmel. I’m tempted to say he was as brave as a Bolshie in 1932 marching to the center of Red Square bellowing every step “I love Stalin!” except that, given Stalin’s willingness to liquidate not only foes but friends as “enemies of the state,” the Bolshie was a good deal bolder than Kimmel.
What did Jimmy have to say in his “triumphant return” (Yahoo’s phrase) to the Oscar podium? He “acknowledged the serious issues facing the film industry” (Yahoo again). What could those issues have been? Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predations and #MeToo. Did anyone see that coming? Did Jimmy have to down a couple of stiff drinks before walking on stage to challenge the Hollywood zeitgeist?
Although a few truly bold people in the industry have argued that lynching every actor, director, and screenwriter who has looked lecherously at a starlet or flirted a bit too overtly, is going too far, no one is going to defend Weinstein, and, as a matter of plain fact, nobody did. At the same time, the disgust the filmmaking industry ought to feel for its own hypocrisy was also missing at the ceremony. I mean, of course, the actors and actresses who put their careers before their consciences, who knew too well the sordid quid pro quo atmosphere of their “profession.” There were no academy awards for self-preservation, but there should have been—one imagines hundreds of them.
For all the dissimulation about past sins, Kimmel and company knew they had a guaranteed crowd-pleaser when it came to President Trump and Vice President Pence. Anyone who has read TCR knows I’m no great fan of Trump, but I ask you: Didn’t decorum and plain common sense dictate silence on matters overtly political? On the contrary, gratuitous Leftist snarkiness set the keynote. Referring to Lapita Nyong’o of Black Panther, a Mexican actress reared in Kenya, Kimmel crowed, “Let the tweetstorm from the president’s toilet begin.” The audience loved it. As for Pence, he said, “We don’t make films like Call Me By Your Name [a LGBT bomb] for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence.” That claim may have been news to the movie’s producers who, no doubt about it, wanted to make money, but no matter. The crowd roared.
During the Clinton administration, Queen Hillary responded to questions about one of their many scandals with the comment that they put such things “in a box.” On Sunday night Kimmel and company proved deft hands at that game too. Not long ago, Mike Pence was skewered in the press as “sexist” for revealing that he never went to dinner with any woman who was not his wife. If Harvey Weinstein and a score of other #MeToo targets had disciplined themselves as Pence habitually did, #MeToo might have to fold its tent, keeping in mind that the tent might not exist at all. But Pence’s old-school chivalry went into a sealed box and evidently got misplaced in some Citizen Kane Xanadu warehouse. A man devoted to his wife and respectful of women? Nothing to see there.
When Kimmel, smiling and sanctimonious, wasn’t doing his lame imitation of Barack Obama, others rushed into the breach to continue the assault. Frances McDormand, winner of Best Actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, invited all of the women nominees to join her onstage to present a united front against men who had dinner with women who were not their wives—or something like that. Naturally, she lectured the audience about feminism and sternly threatened: “Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days, or you can come to ours, whatever suits you best, and we’ll tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”
The last phrase surely perplexed many in TV land, but, at least by morning, Public Radio’s code-breakers had figured out “inclusion rider” as a cipher for Affirmative Action, Hollywood-style. The rider simply means that producers had better hire a Leftist-approved diverse mix of actors; if they balk, there will be no contract. In today’s culturally oppressive climate, that’s an offer no one is likely to refuse. As with Affirmative Action, Washington-style, this kind of institutionalized blackmail is a guaranteed means of rendering many competent and, in some cases, expert workers unemployed in favor of the less qualified who, nevertheless, happen to be the right color or gender. That’s just another way of saying “inclusion” means exclusion, but don’t expect Hollywood to grasp something so fundamental.
As a matter of fact, don’t expect them to grasp much of anything. The academy award for Stupidity goes to . . . The envelope, please. And better hope it’s a fat one.