You should not watch the Oscars this year. Not because they're racist. Because they're stupid.
Don't get me wrong, the Oscars are very much racist — or, at very least, the studio system of which they are an ambassador appears uninterested in depicting minorities in their films, or promoting minorities (or, for that matter, women) to positions of importance. And when a movie comes along like the brilliant Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba (aka Stinger Bell) and a bunch of other really fantastic black actors, the members of the academy let out a collective yawn and vote Leo.
Hence the hashtag — #OscarsSoWhite — and a growing list of stars who say they won't attend the award ceremony, including Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith.
And yeah, that's probably the best reason to not watch the Oscars. But allow me to present to you with another: They're stupid. And they always have been.
It's bizarre how many people watch the Oscars every year. While the award show's ratings are on a steady downward trajectory, the show still is seen by tens of millions of people annually. They are, in effect, the Super Bowl of liberal America.
Now, granted, Americans are obsessed with movie stars and the clothes they wear. And what are the Oscars but an opportunity to bask in the reflective glow of the George Clooneys, the Jennifer Lawrences and, to a lesser extent, the Chris Pratts?
But what exactly are people watching, for upward of four hours?
Wretchedly unfunny and almost entirely uncontroversial jokes written by Bruce Vilanch — a guy best known, according to his Wikipedia page, for a four-year stint on Hollywood Squares; predictable and mostly harmless left-of-center political speeches made by vapid, self-centered actors; and boring, boring, boring speeches by people you've never heard of thanking agents and studio executives that you've never heard of, all while gorgeous men and women applaud them as if they've just signed the Camp David Accords.
Much as the majority of an NFL game is spent watching large men stand with their arms around each other muttering, a good chunk of the awards ceremony is spent reading a list of the nominees in each category, information readily available on any one of a thousand websites in hundreds of languages. And commercials. Lots and lots of commercials.
And if, by virtue of accident, something actually interesting happens — say, an actor seriously injures himself tripping on his own sense of self-satisfaction, or a presenter gets drunk and accuses Jack Nicholson of sexual assault — well, you can watch it a short time later, on YouTube.
(By the way, the Oscars ceremony has produced only one genuinely good thing in the last 20 years, and that's this Errol Morris short film. And this short New Yorker piece about its making is almost as good. Both star Donald Trump!)
If the Oscars were just boring, maybe that would be OK. Lots of things are boring and we watch them anyway because we're already bored. It's a lateral move. But the Oscars are infused by Hollywood's unparalleled self-love.
This is an industry whose main exports are bloated sequels, remakes, sequel/remakes and comic book adaptations scientifically designed to appeal to key demographics like children, comic book nerds and the Chinese. Any actual art it produces is accidental — an occurrence that is becoming more and more rare as genuinely talented and creative people move to television or streaming or whatever we're calling it.
Hollywood anoints a chosen few to do whatever the hell they want — Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers — and forces everyone else to churn out garbage.
And then, once a year, everyone meets up at the Dolby Theater at Hollywood and Highland — L.A.'s shittiest mall, in a city with quite a few shitty malls — and celebrates itself, as if it were curing cancer or defeating the Nazis.
And the weirdest part is that people voluntarily watch this unfold for hours on end.
Maybe this is the year they stop watching.