With awards season here, all the big films are leaked onto the web, free for anyone to download and get an opinion no one wants to hear. So here we fucken go. Usually, The Oscars serve, among other things, to give the general movie-goer a good helping hand toward the better films, and thus avoid falling for marketing hype and awesome trailers for awful films. This year though, an oddly high number of the films with Oscar nominations have a strange undercurrent of “America Rules”, which I find suspicious and mildly evil.
There’s ‘Lincoln’ telling us how hard it was to overcome racism and slavery. ‘Django Unchained’ doing the same thing with more gun violence, and an hour of extraneous footage and racial slurs. ‘Argo’ glossing over US war crimes to say how awesomely the CIA once saved a few white people’s lives. And ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ saying how good the US are at getting revenge on an evil man.
Now, even though Lincoln and Django Unchained have the most in common on the surface, ironically, that’s a shallow judgement. Sure, DiCaprio is the antithesis of Day Lewis in creating a nuanced and enthralling character, who also has a weird beard and obsession with slaves, but that’s stretching it. Lincoln aligns more with Zero Dark Thirty because there’s a congratulatory agenda behind everything, and they skip over ugly facts to essentially say, “this is how it happened, isn’t it amazing? America! Stop hating on Obama!”
Argo however, tells you right away the US installed a dictator who was horrible (putting it kindly) to his people, then when that dictator was kicked out, the US protected him because they had multiple other dictators in other countries, who they’d lose if they gave up this one. That’s really, really uncool. And true. But the film then goes on with the great character development and suspenseful storytelling. Lincoln doesn’t do that. It just has a funny musket scene amidst 2.5 hours of unending seriousness. If all goes according to my genius plan, Affleck will take the Oscar, while Spielberg scratches his stringy, Lincoln-eqsue beard (my plan is to wish really hard). And Bigalow can make a gripping movie which isn’t about the amazeballsness of soldiers in the Iraq & Afghanistan wars.
Lincoln only proves that even if politicians are wearing silly hats and ridiculous moustaches, watching them argue and brood about how serious their decisions are, is boring. Yes, Day Lewis at this point, could win an Oscar for a cameo in a porno, but he gives us a tired old man with only hints at complexity – he’s a caricature hero. For all the emphasis on the moral crusade against racists, there’s barely a mention of women’s rights, or that their great nation had just spent 60 years buying up land, killing and displacing vast amounts of Mexicans and Native Americans. That’s actual history, and it’s generally a little boring, I guess.
Okay, history may not be completely boring, but it’s at least confusing and annoyingly dishonest, so just tell me a good story, please! That’s the way you learn about history. You see a good film and think “Wow, amazing, I wanna learn more about this!” Then you do, and it’s not at all that exciting, so you think “Aw, that sucks, but at least I know stuff now. Thanks Hollywood!”
As an addendum, the USA does deserve endless kudos for putting into place what the English and French and Ancient Greeks/Turks thought up a very long time ago (federated democracy), and for jazz, blues and rock n roll (modern music – best thing in the world apart from love, oral sex, cute animals and good drugs in conjunction with all of the above), as well as many of the greatest writers and inventors of modern history. HOWEVER, it is essentially, and has always been, controlled by evil, rich, imperialistic, heartless, tainlicking swine, and we shall not forget that!