Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feminism and Oscar





I love the Oscars. LOVE. I laugh, I cry, I swoon. I start watching the red carpet hoopla at 7pm, the ceremony that runs until midnight, and Jimmy Kimmel's Oscar special after. Not to mention whatever I can find about it the next day. LOVE. I love hearing all the acceptance speeches, from Actor in a Leading Role to Costume Design to Documentary Short... I love it all. I love movies, and I love seeing them honored as an art form. Having spent some time myself working on a couple of films, I know how much work and how many people's time, energy, hearts and souls go into making even a short film. When I go to the movies, I sit through all the credits, long after the rest of the audience has left, out of respect for all the people who contributed to the work of art I just experienced.

Now you know my love of film and all things Oscar related. And if you've ever read this blog before, or if you've read the description, you already know about my feminism and that I filter pretty much everything through a feminist lens. I've been reading lots of the articles flying around this past week about what a misogynist Seth MacFarlane showed himself to be, or how sexist the Oscars are, etc., and so of course I am weighing in.

My take? I'm sick to death of all the MacFarlane bashing. I'm tired of reading diatribes by people who don't seem to understand nuance or satire or sarcasm, who take everything literally, and at times distort what actually happened to fit their need for everything to be oppressive and wrong. Here's an example: MacFarlane made a dig at George Clooney and his increasingly inappropriate (in some people's opinions) propensity for younger women by saying in reference to 9 year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, "To give you an idea of how young she is, it'll be 16 years until she's too old for Clooney." Some very twisted and fatigued minds out there turned this into MacFarlane sexualizing a child. A writer for Vulture twisted it into being a joke about how "someday Quvenzhan√© Wallis will be old enough to date George Clooney — because that's what's important about her." Seriously? They're looking so hard for what they think they should see that they're missing what's right in front of their faces. Perspective--George Clooney is only 5 years younger than my father and he's dating a woman the same age as my little sister. So, whether you have an opinion or not about Clooney dating younger women, I get the ick-factor, and I get the fucking joke.

The boob song. Oh.My.GOD. The entire feminist blog-o-sphere seems to be up in arms about 'I Saw Your Boobs.' Did they watch it in context? It was part of a whole shtick with Captain Kirk coming back from the future to warn MacFarlane not to be an ass and ruin the Oscars, showing him a video of what he does in poor taste that makes everyone hate him. I saw it as MacFarlane openly acknowledging the kind of crass humor people expect from him. More importantly, it seemed to me that he was making fun of himself, which I think is always a good thing. And for fuck sake--it was funny!

BostonClem commented on the Jezebel post and said it much better and less offensively than I have:

"Here's the problem with Seth Macfarlane: he's critiquing society in a highly ironic, sarcastic way, but most people don't get it-- and those people who don't get it range from misogynists who find his jokes affirming, and feminists who find his jokes infuriating. I genuinely believe he is a man trying to critique sexism (among many other of society's ills) through humor. I don't think every joke he's ever done is acceptable... but you know what? As a feminist and someone who puts a lot of time and effort into analyzing/fighting racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and classism in Am. culture, I also don't think every comment I've ever made is acceptable. He's critiquing society through jokes, pushing boundaries, and probing sore spots in the American (historical) psyche. And good for him for being willing to take that risk, even if it sometimes backfires. I'm glad there are feminists who will hold him accountable, but I don't think he should be silenced just because many feminists don't appreciate his deeply sarcastic humor. He ain't perfect, but he's a million percent better than most of the guys I know (especially comedians), and I'll take it-- especially if he's willing to listen to feminist (and other) critiques of his work and take a close look to make sure they're mocking the right thing."

Now, in my opinion, a much bigger problem with the Oscars--and the movie industry, and American culture, and British culture, etc. etc.--is the fact that there was a whole segment of the Oscars dedicated to 50 years of James Bond movies, movies which continue to blatantly perpetuate objectification and hyper-sexualization of women and overt misogyny. (Did you see Skyfall? Bond helps himself to a shower and a fuck with/to a woman he acknowledges has been living as a sex slave for years. WTF?) I haven't seen this mentioned in any of the blogs proclaiming the awfulness of the sexist Seth MacFarlane as Oscar host. Oh, but you like James Bond? Daniel Craig is sexy? James Bond is based on a character written a long time ago, so it's okay? Whatever.

I get that a lot of shit is seriously wrong in the world. I do. I get that there's a lot to seriously be pissed off about. But I also get that people--even good and well intentioned ones--are flawed. I get (although some may disagree whether I do) that not everyone sees the world the same way I do, and that doesn't make them bad. And I get that laughter is good, art is important, and that we have to learn not to always take ourselves so seriously. Choose your battles wisely, people.

You probably either love me or hate me right about now, and that's okay. I really don't have anything else to say except... Argo fuck yourself. ;)