23 January 2016

#OscarsSoStupidandPredictable (Part 2)

Just a short follow-up to yesterday's posting...

Yeah, there's been backlash already. THR quotes one unnamed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member as follows (and, regrettably, I have to assume that this quotation is accurate and not wrenched from context):

Another member of the PR branch who wished to remain anonymous fumed, "They did a knee-jerk reaction, when in fact the issue around actors [of color not receiving nominations] is in the actors [sic] branch — they are the ones who do the nominations!" He continued, "This 30-year rule is going to hit the PR branch and executives branch the hardest. What are you going to tell Bob Iger? He got in in 2005 when he took over Disney. He leaves in a year and goes to the NFL. So is he out? He is only building the Academy Museum."

Scott Feinberg, "Academy's New Voting Rules Raise Questions, Concerns and Anger Among Members" (23 Jan 2016) (bracketed insertion in original, emphasis added).

The irony that this is coming from an anonymous member of the PR branch is disturbing enough; but the irony gets rustier after thinking about it. One only becomes eligible to even be considered for membership in the actors' branch by being cast in at least one qualifying film, and usually several. The actors' branch then has some say over who gets in, but first one must be cast... and that prerequisite is almost entirely controlled by the executive and PR branches, because historically those two branches have together operated (all too frequently consciousely and overtly) to restrict opportunities for persons of color — and, for that matter, women and East Asians and gays and every other distinct grouping other than white Christian men — out of concerns utterly unrelated to merit. No, the executive and PR branches have far too often barred the majority from film roles based on perceived difficulty in "selling" the resulting film; just ask Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez why he felt it necessary to adopt an Irish-sounding stage name in the 1960s, and ponder the consequences of the most-successful-in-acting-recognition of his children following that practice while his daughter and other two sons did not.

In short, the inability of a (presumably) "senior" member of the PR branch to see the problem is precisely why the inactive "senior" members of the PR and executive branches most need to be weeded out. Of course, there is going to be a transition period, and there will be shrieking in all directions. But it seems to me that demographically weeding out those who historically established, embellished, and enforced the demographic roadblocks makes a nice bed for Procrustes.