The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday April 1st

Column: The Oscars don't understand movies

I grew up absolutely in love with film and the art of film-making. I have watched, studied and adored cinema since the first trip I ever took to the movie theater. However, my adoration for cinema has recently only remained an avenue for disappointment. The highest voices in the world of film now seem unable or unwilling to recognize the art they claim mastery over.

The voices I’m referring to, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars’ organizers), have already come under fire for a multitude of other missteps in how they handle the most important award ceremony in the film industry. Racial inequities are reflected so ridiculously in the Academy’s apparent blindness for appreciating the art crafted by non-white artists. These have been the dominant source of controversy during the last few awards, yet I want to address how the Academy’s ham-fisted attempts at righting their past wrongs have not only missed the point of the protests, but left the awards dangling at the edge of artistic irrelevancy.

After being called out for the lack of diversity in their membership and awards, the Academy seems to have a confused definition of the term “modernization,” using it to mask the problematic comedians it has asked to host the Oscars for publicity.

In the Academy’s desperate and mostly needless attempt to update, we have seen a widespread abandonment of the artistic ideals these awards were supposed to stand for. "Black Panther" was a fantastic film for its genre, but its inclusion in the Best Picture category completely neglects the reason the Oscars exist. 

Films like "Black Panther" don’t need the recognition of the Academy. That’s not to say that these films can’t have artistic value, but movies made to make money by their nature will not achieve the same level of nuance and cinematic excellence that the Best Picture category is supposed to recognize. 

Including films like "Black Panther" over fantastic films like "If Beale Street Could Talk," as well as buying into the misplaced praise for problematic misspellings of history like "Bohemian Rhapsody," shows that the Academy simply doesn’t understand its role anymore. The Oscars are supposed to recognize the accomplishments of cinema as an art-form, not purely as a product. The Academy has become hooked on the idea that they have to re-brand and re-market their awards ceremony. 

Rather than actually appreciating the high art made by minority filmmakers, the Academy picks whatever movie seems popular among society in the hopes that they can trick us into thinking they actually understand diversity. All this actually achieves is leaving the Oscars in a middle ground where no one wants to watch them and no one can truly connect with the misguided vision the Academy is desperately trying to sell.

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