Opinion

Parasite and Slumdog Millionaire: Give your Best Picture Oscars back

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The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences changed the rules for the Oscar awards it hands out every year. You probably heard about it.

The Academy is responding in a knee-jerk like much of the world has been over the past few months. Since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis at the end of May, cities across the United States went on binges of defunding the police — in the middle of violent riots — and wokeness became academia and corporate America’s default position.

As the gatekeeper to Hollywood movies, the Academy couldn’t allow anyone to out-woke it. By early September it had been outrun by the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, and every wannabe influencer on Instagram. They were all taking knees, boycotting their own games, calling on police to be defunded, and posting black squares everywhere. The Academy couldn’t make directors take a knee and it couldn’t defund movies about police. Cable TV channels jumped ahead on that, with A&E canceling Live PD for no reason and COPS going off the air after several successful decades.

What could the Academy do to prove its bona fides to the left-wing mob? Pollute the art of movie-making!

The Academy issued a raft of rules that has to be seen to be believed. From now on, its most prestigious award, Best Picture, will only go to films that meet its two of its four new politically correct criteria. Out is the goal to give the best movie the Academy’s highest honor on the merits, to advance film itself as an art form. Instead, it’s is a stack of quotas that would have the Academy police everything from the composition of a movie’s cast and crew and even the interns, and the content of the film itself.

“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson.  “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

What happened to rewarding the best movie of the year with Best Picture? That’s gone. Now, even if a movie sets itself apart as the best in every way, it may not win the Best Picture Oscar. Not if it doesn’t have the Academy’s arbitrarily chosen quota of non-white actors in a lead or supporting role. Not, for instance, if it has an ensemble cast that doesn’t include the Academy’s approved quota for women, minority, or LGBTQ storylines.

It’s ridiculous. It’s also, as actress Kirstie Alley pointed out, Orwellian. “This is a disgrace to artists everywhere,” Alley tweeted. “Can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his f—ing paintings. You people have lost your minds. Control artists, control individual thought .. OSCAR ORWELL.” Alley deleted that tweet but later said she stands by its sentiments, especially concerning the quota system the Academy is now imposing.  “I am 100% behind diversity inclusion & tolerance. I’m opposed to MANDATED ARBITRARY percentages relating to hiring human beings in any business.”

Alley has a point. In 1958, The Bridge Over the River Kwai won Best Picture for its depiction of a seminal moment during World War II. Today it and other war pictures like it could not be included, no matter how inspirational they are. Platoon (1987) had no LGBTQ storyline and very few women in any roles. Chariots of Fire (1982) would probably fail too. It features mostly men and it has a Christian theme.

So would Slumdog Millionaire, the sensational Indian-British production that surprised everyone by winning the 2008 Best Picture award. And Parasite (2019), with its horror theme and its all-Korean cast and crew. Nearly every Oscar-winning film would fail by the new Best Picture criteria, even last year’s winner. It’s not that they would all lose under the new rules. They would no longer even be allowed to compete. The Academy is pushing its verdict out far ahead of the trial.

Instead of awarding Best Picture on merit, the Academy is forcing filmmakers to first fill out a form testifying to their inclusivity when they submit their work for consideration. That starts in 2022. In 2024, they must submit the form, and their film must meet a host of criteria that the Academy simply made up, none of which speak to the quality of the film. They all speak to political correctness. Such as:

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

In effect, filmmakers will have to have diversity police on hand to comply with the Academy’s new rules. If you liked the Soviet Union’s political officers that were once embedded in ever business there, you’ll love the Academy’s!

Winning Best Picture can be a major step in a filmmaker or actor’s life. Jennifer Lawrence’s salary reportedly doubled after she won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook (2013). Would that movie be eligible under the Academy’s new quota? A film can have the opportunity to reach new audiences after a Best Picture win.

The woke Academy’s new quotas subvert art for the sake of nose-counting that may force artists to bend and twist their work into something unrecognizable and of less artistic value and merit. It’s fundamentally against the artistic freedom which Hollywood claims it stands for.

A.J. Rice

A.J. Rice is CEO of Publius PR a premier communications firm in Washington D.C. Rice is a brand manager, star-whisperer and auteur media influencer, who has produced or promoted Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump Jr., Judge Jeanine Pirro, Monica Crowley, Charles Krauthammer, Alan Dershowitz, Roger L. Simon, Steve Hilton, Victor Davis Hanson, and many others. Find out more at publiuspr.com

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