Thursday, April 4, 2019

WHY "BLACK PANTHER"'S BEST PICTURE OSCAR NOMINATION IS NOT A BIG DEAL. (And, no, this isn't a Hot Take or anything, it just isn't.)

So, those Oscars...,

I-eh, I'll tell you this, I'm happy that if I had to voluntarily pick a year where I skipped the Academy Awards, it would've been this one. So, I guess I should be fortunate that the fates were plotting against me this year to miss reporting and predicting them this year, but that didn't mean that I could avoid much/most of the controversies regarding the show. I guess I could go one-by-one and make arguments for/against the nominations/wins of the films I did see so far, or I can do a more thorough criticism of the show itself, and yeah, believe me, it deserved a more thorough criticism. And of course, a show that messed up so much it couldn't figure out how to have a host, would have movies that are seemingly universally beloved or panned depending on the circle of cinephile friends that day. I think I saw multiple pieces for and against "Green Book", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Vice" and "Black Panther"'s nominations, everywhere. And it wasn't a matter of, "They just thought there were better more deserving films," criticisms either; there were articles crying out that these were some of the worst Best Picture nominations, ever!!!!!!!

Like, damn! I'd comment on those, but it's way too late since everybody else has already written rebuttals to those articles, and then rebuttals to the rebuttals and rebuttals to those..., all over the internet, and frankly, if I'm gonna come back to posting after an unplanned absence, there better be something that nobody has been calling out or talking about. (Sigh)

Yeah, I'm going after superhero fans/fanboys again.

As many of you know, I've written, several times, criticizing fandom, in particular involving this wave of comic book and superheros superfandom that has been infesting the world of mainstream pop culture and Hollywood for-, well, pretty much this entire century so far! However, there was one thing about this build-up to the Oscars that, I realize I couldn't deal with, and it's how everybody was so excited and important and groundbreaking it was that "Black Panther", a superhero movie, got nominated for Best Picture. A turning point, a major moment in the widespread acceptance of superheroes and superhero culture and blah, blah, blah, blah....-

(Frustrated sigh)

Okay, first of all, no, this is not important, nor is it a big deal. Secondly, it's seriously crap like this as to why I hate fans. Like, I saw people, treat this moment, like, "We made it! We're finally getting recognition!", like it was Sidney Poitier winning the Oscar or something. It's one thing to cheer for a movie, but it's like everybody taking a whole sub-subgenre, and then saying that it represents them, and now their getting recognized?! Or criticized. Or-,

This will take a little time to explain, but trust me, I'm getting to a point, but I gotta start at the beginning, "Black Panther", did I see the movie? Do I like the movie? Do I think the movie deserved a Best Picture nomination? Well, first of all, I've written a review of it, so I've seen the movie, and-, I liked it a lot! You can find my review here:

Which also brings me, to something else that happened to me, that's entirely unrelated but not really...-, you see, when I posted my review originally, people saw the picture of "Black Panther" come up, and clearly didn't read it or anything else in my post, and didn't check the other film reviews, and- I saw one person in particular snarky comment something along the lines, "Oh, look another hot take on "Black Panther"! Now, it's true that, there are several reviews and opinions out there and analysis of the film, and I think deservedly so, but-eh, I didn't claim I had a hot take, or any take really. I just wrote a review. One of several I posted that day, and the only reason that picture came up was because it was the top picture on my post, and that's only because it was the first review on that post, and that, was only because I thought it was the biggest film of the ones I was reviewing. (That's one of the ways I order the film reviews) I wrote a lot about it, sure, it's a review, that's what I'm supposed to do, and fine, I was late and didn't get to it in the timely manner others did, like every other film I review..., but...- I couldn't even mention the damn film, without somebody making a comment that I was commenting on it, like I'm trying to say something more than that?! Even this article in the grand scheme of everything "Black Panther," is pretty benign, and so was my review for that matter. So whoever that person was, and I'm not gonna look it up to find out, but fuck you! (Middle finger) It was a review of a film, it was 4/5 STARS and it wasn't a hot take of dick, or any other take of anything!

So I saw the movie, I liked the movie, do I think it's Best Picture worthy? (Shrugs) I-on't know??? I haven't seen everything from the year yet. Maybe? I certainly had no issue with it being nominated. I had issue with the reaction to it being nominated, which is what I'm criticizing here, but the film itself, I didn't think it was unworthy. Maybe it makes my Top Ten List, maybe it doesn't, but, sure, I had no issue with it being nominated. But, is the fact that it's superhero movie getting in, a major deal?! Something that people needed to get excited about, something that's a major shift in the Academy?


I'm sighing 'cause now, I have to talk about "Lord of the Rings." Again, I've said this before, and it's nothing new, but I hate "The Lord of the Rings." I hated the movies, I hated the books, I don't like Tolkien, and his influence and inspiration is a big reason why I don't even particularly think fantasy is a good genre, and I consider most of what's been directly or indirectly influenced from him to be an all-around negative. Many people disagree with those thought, clearly, but...- I'm not getting into that argument right now, because I actually do want to talk about something positive about the movies, because, milestone aspect that people want to put on "Black Panther" getting a Best Picture nomination, "The Lord of the Rings" actually does deserve. Not only were all three films Best Picture nominees, along with "The Return of the King" winning Best Picture and going 11/11, a record at the Oscars, a major achievement for film and cinema; but that was an actual milestone turning point for the fantasy genre in film.

I know, it's hard to remember this now, but fantasy, and I mean true fantasy, was not respected by the Academy. I mean, I just typed in "Fantasy Films that got Oscar nominations" into Google, and literally, most of the example they give, were science-fiction or horror, neither of which is fantasy, and even the ones with fantastical elements in them, are stretches at best. I don't think anybody watches "Rosemary's Baby" and thinks, "Fantasy." That's how little fantasy was thought of or regarded by the Academy, and in turn, by Hollywood and arguably the greater pop culture landscape.

There's some minor exceptions to that, if you look deep enough. In 1935, Tim Reinhardt's adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was the first fantasy film nominated, and won two Oscars, including famously winning for Cinematography despite the fact that the film wasn't nominated in that category, but it wasn't a serious contender to win, Neither was Frank Capra's adaptation of "Lost Horizon" in '37, neither was "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" in 1941, or the aforementioned Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", which was famously a flop at the time despite critical success, including a Best Picture nomination, that had no chance to win in '46; "The Bishop's Wife" the next year, which is far less remembered nowadays, also not really a film that was a serious contender to win. After that, what, "Mary Poppins", lost to "My Fair Lady" in a close race. "Doctor Dolittle" in '67 somehow snuck in to that Best Picture and I'm not sure how the hell that happened considering it's competition that year. After that, I guess some might argue that "Star Wars" is "Science-Fantasy", which-, fine, but it only got nominated for Best Picture, and that's more than say, "Harvey" did, but...-. After that, um, "Field of Dreams" got in, "Beauty and the Beast," the Disney animated version got in, both of those were considered surprise nominations by many.

You'll notice I'm not listing a lot of movies that most people who dive into the fantasy genre would even think of as "fantasy" in the traditional sense of the genre, and, well, that's the point I'm making. That's how huge this seismic shift was when goddamn "The Lord of the Rings" suddenly crashed the Oscars and ultimately took them over. Even probably what everybody would consider the best fantasy film in American cinema at least, "The Wizard of Oz", the film that the Academy did a special 75th Anniversary tribute to a few years back, that film lost to "Gone with the Wind". (Also, that tribute was ridiculous 'cause those films came out in 1939, the year universally regarded as the best in Oscar history and the best year for film in the Golden Age of Cinema, and they're only gonna honor, one film from that year, and it wasn't even the Best Picture winner?!?! Granted I don't want a tribute to "Gone with the Wind" either, but still...) Back then, the Oscars idea of a fantasy film was "Ghost"! And, as much as I hate the goddamn thing, I gotta give "LOTR" credit for that, although to be fair also, the Tolkienesque fantasy films that did come before "LOTR", yeah, they-, I may hate "LOTR", but other fantasy features, mostly didn't deserve Best Picture nearly as much as Peter Jackson's trilogy did. (And that is a painful thing for me to admit, but it's true.)  I mean, I can think of a few in hindsight I'd liked to have seen get in, Disney's "Pinocchio" would top that list for me, but I don't see too many people arguing that "Jason and the Argonauts" was unfairly overlooked nowadays?

That's the thing too, superheroes are, well, they're mostly a subgenre of fantasy. I know, some want to claim that say, Batman isn't fantasy because he's a self-made superhero and doesn't rely on supernatural powers or live in a supernatural world, or some other technical B.S., but it's fantasy. The genre's direct influence is mythology, which is also fantasy's major influence as well. And that's fine, hell, there's nothing wrote with fantasy being recognized by the Academy; a fantasy film won the Best Picture Oscar, the year before! Remember that one about the Man-Fish that had the affair with the deaf girl, I think it was called "Aquaman" something? I don't remember the exact title, but this is what, really deep deep down, gets me annoyed and upset at just how prevalent, popular and obsessed we are with superheroes. Especially with abundance it's become apart of our pop culture, and certainly how it's just taken over the cinema,... (Sigh)

Let me try to explain how ridiculous-sounding it is, this notion that "Black Panther"'s nomination is important for superhero movies is, by taking something that I really like the same way superhero fans like superheroes, something that I'm personally a huge fan of. I'm really big into mystery stories about world famous female superthiefs who's crime stories are told with an educational slant to them, preferably with a focus on world geography. I am very into this genre, and believe there are nowhere near enough of them out there, and stop looking at me like you think I'm trying to be funny; this is actually my thing.

Let's say, I start getting my wish though, and suddenly instead of say, one story like this every few years, we start getting them more often. And more people like myself, who are really into this, start coming out of the woodwork and talking and insisting that there be many many more movies or books or TV shows or video games or whatever like this. Some will be a little different than others, there are certain stories about female superthiefs who steal famous world landmarks and conveniently leaves esoteric puzzle-like educational clues for the would-be police trying to capture her, some that I prefer over others personally, but suddenly within a few years or so, the pop culture landscape has, basically become nothing but female superthiefs who are really into geography everywhere! There's universes that are multi-platform and require catching up on books, shows, and movies and video games to understand the full stories, and every major Hollywood studio has their own female superthief geography-based cinematic universe that they're pushing, and finally, after a long time, one of those movies, the Academy considers so good, that it gets an Oscar-nomination for Best Picture, and me and every other fan of this genre, starts going crazy! "We did it! We did it! From here on out, all films and stories that bleed into the popular culture, are going to be kick-ass female superthiefs and everybody will be just as fascinated by the geographical puzzle clues they leave behind, and we're finally accepted by the mainstream!"

You'd all look at me and go, "Dude, it's just a mystery film, not it's own special genre! It's been around since Arthur Conan Doyle, earlier than him even! Stop acting like this is a big deal!" Right? Well, if you didn't say that to me in that situation, you really friggin' should, 'cause that would be insane if the entire media pop culture landscape would suddenly turn into that!!!! It would be awesome and amazing, but it would still be insane!!!

Well, it's just fantasy; "Black Panther" getting into Best Picture, was not a big deal. It's not even that different of a kind of fantasy anymore, the same way that my particular favorite subgenre of a subgenre of a subgenre of a subgenre is not anymore special or different or unique than any other. "LOTR"'s Oscar breakthrough was that milestone important moment, 'cause it stood out, not only from other films in the genre that the Academy recognized, on the very rare occasions the genre was actually recognized, but also it represented a huge shift in the kind of narrative and storytelling that cinema could have and honor. Again, overall I don't think in this case that was a positive, but still, that's what it did.

There are reasons that I can see people argue that "Black Panther"'s nomination is important, and a turning point for film and pop culture for some of the aspects of the movie, and dissecting some of those is a fund discussion to have and many have been having than discussion and analysis, but as to it being a superhero movie, that's not one of them. 

Seriously though, when are we getting more female superthief mystery-adventures that teach geography, it's been way too frickin' long!

(Failing to hold back the biggest smile in the world.)

We still need to create more, but this'll do, for now.

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