I stayed up last night to hate tweet the Oscars, an annual tradition that always, always turns out to be a big mistake.
Sadly, this year there were no grand train wreck moments, but rather a series of little annoyances. Professionally likeable person Ellen DeGeneres made some mean and transphobic joke about Liza Minnelli, and then waged an unending bit about how hilarious it would be to order pizza for mega-wealthy Hollywood celebrities like they’re regular shlubbs who eat that kind of garbage off paper plates. She even passed around Pharrell’s hat to collect cash for the pizza because they’re all super rich, and you’re not, and ISN’T THIS FUN?
*claws out eyes*
Gravity won a shitload of awards, including the brilliant Alfonso Cuarón for best director (Cuarón is the first Latino to ever win the category). The film also cleaned up in the technical awards categories at a time when visual effects artists were protesting the Oscars for the second year in a row to bring attention to the outsourcing and sweatshopping of visual effects.
Matthew McConaughey again demonstrated what a fucking nightmare he must be to live with during his eight millionth unbearably smug acceptance speech. Despite what he claimed during his tribute to himself, there is no God because his costar Jared Leto also won an Oscar and devoted his time to shouting out his band, his mom, and dreamers dreaming dreams everywhere.
Leto and McConaughey have gotten a ton of blowback for being two cis white dudes profiting off the legacies of AIDS and the transgender community, so Leto also threw in a mention of the fact that a lot of people have died from AIDS:
“To all the dreamers out there in the world watching this tonight, we are here … team Matthew, I love you, this is for 36 million people who have lost their life to AIDS,” he said.
Sorry about AIDS and your struggles and ongoing persecutions, but look! Matthew and I won Oscars!
And again, no mention of the transgender community.
Some redeeming moments: Twelve Years a Slave won the top prize for Best Picture and real-life Disney princess Lupita Nyong’o won for best supporting actress, and delivered an incredibly moving acceptance speech.
It was immediately clear that, unlike Leto, Nyong’o knows she owes an enormous debt to the woman she portrayed in Twelve Years a Slave, a slave named Patsey:
Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.
Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position, it’s been the joy of my life. [Tears, applause.] I’m certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I.
Nyong’o concluded: “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.”
This is very powerful word choice. Notice Nyong’o doesn’t recycle the tired cliché of, “work hard and your dreams can come true!” spouted by countless previous Oscar winners, who are usually white cis people. By saying to children their dreams are valid, Nyong’o wasn’t whitewashing the obstacles facing unprivileged children, particularly children of color. In a really subtle way, she recognizes the hurdles, the injustices, the systemic corruption, poverty, and institutional racism facing millions of little children, yet she wants them to know they are human, and yes, their dreams are legitimate despite the ugly realities of the world.
It was a masterful tribute, each word hand-selected with the utmost care by a brilliant, thoughtful woman who obviously connected with her source material in a really profound way. Basically, she was the maestro to Jared Leto’s drunk frat boy, stumbling around in his boxers, waving around a piece of liquorice to the tune of Dave Matthews’ Ants Marching.