Editorial: The Political Relevance of the Oscars in 2018

Blake Pynnonen takes a looks at the political relevance of the Oscars in 2018

With smartphones and tablets to play around with, are the Oscars, in 2018, worth our time? Like movies themselves, the Oscars contain tropes and themes so repetitive that you wonder whether it’s worth watching at all. These repetitive tropes and themes, such as thanking your mother or your spouse, following your dreams, and advancing the human condition exist in the Oscar ceremony because their galvanizing power has the strength to stand the test of time.

Even though the Oscars are about something seemingly-trivial, entertainment and movies, it is a remarkably human event. It’s an event which defines what artists do for us. It serves as a mirror into a part of our zeitgeist. It’s also a state of the union for the left-wing of American politics.

One of the themes touched on during the ceremony was the plight of the immigrant, or the “Other”. Guillermo Del Toro comment about his experience as a boy in Mexico watching “foreign films” such as E.T. brings to mind the relative nature of the word, “foreign”. His film for this year, the winner of Best Picture, The Shape of Water, presented several “othered” characters pushing against the oppression of a supposedly “normal” force, the dreaded straight, white, male. In Trump’s America, a victory for an immigrant director for a film about a mute woman, a black woman, a gay man, and an Amazon water god is a telling sign of the left’s current intentions.

From this year’s show, we learned that the left values, among other things, inclusion. The left wants to see more stories from and for historically-marginalized populations, such as women, people of color, and other minorities. Some of the points made from the showings of films like Black Panther and Wonder Woman is that not only can you make a good movie that stars someone who’s not a straight, white male, but that these films can also do well at the box office.

One thing that conservatives should be able to value as much as liberals in the tradition of the Oscars is the idea of dreams. For many of the Oscar nominees, their success was not a birthright, but a result of hard work, good luck, and an unrelenting faith in themselves. The individualistic virtues of making a name for yourself in one of the most competitive fields in the world screams of the “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” mentality that conservatives seem to hold onto so dearly.

Luckily, in addition to ego-driven dream talk so prevalent in the acceptance speeches, the winners seem so very quick to express gratitude to the Academy, their support team, and the fans for making the whole experience, the experience of being an artist in the film industry, possible. With the prevalence of smartphones and tablets (with their advanced cameras), that same experience is now at many of our fingertips.

-Blake Pynnonen