Last month, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences [AMPAS], announced rules changes regarding eligibility for their most coveted of all awards – Best Picture.
As part of their "Academy Aperture 2025" public relations program, these changes don’t take effect until the 2024 ceremony (for reasons explained below) and will only further distance AMPAS not only from most movie fans (the people who actually pay the bills), but also the creative community (the people who actually make movies).
The press release sent out by AMPAS explaining these changes was overly wordy and redundant. To be certain, however, it imparted a crystal-clear message: studios wishing for their movies to be considered for the industry’s top prize will now have to operate under a forced-quota system, under the guise of "diversity, inclusion, and representation."
To boil it down, the new rules state that movies made in 2023 and beyond must meet a certain criteria or, if you will, a check-list of on- and off-screen requirements.
This new manifesto is divided into four sub-categories affecting "principal" story characters and plots, technical personnel, paid interns, and studio publicity staff.
In order to qualify for Best Picture Oscar consideration, every production must employ at least two of the following: women, racial minorities, members of the LGBTQ community or the physically challenged.
In other words, anyone and everyone who is not a physically-able, heterosexual white male. [PAHWM]
Perhaps not recognizing that the entertainment business in general and the film industry in particular is already ripe with "diversity" on multiple levels, AMPAS wishes to ramrod directives down the throat of the creative community to such a degree, it will forever alter the future of cinematic artistic boundaries.
Let’s take a look at some Best Picture winners of this century, which, under these new rules, would not even qualify for the award: "Gladiator" (2000), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003), "The Departed" (2006), "No Country for Old Men" (2007), "The Hurt Locker" (2008), "Argo" (2012), and "Spotlight" (2015).
None of these films have: a non-PAHWM principal character, a supporting cast of at least 30% non-PAHWM, or a non-PAHWM plot/story line.
Conversely, in that same space of time, there has been a whopping 61 movies nominated for Best Picture which would qualify under the upcoming guidelines, including nine which ultimately won the award. Those would be "Chicago" (2002), "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008), "The King’s Speech" (2010), "12 Years a Slave" (2013), and the last four Best Picture winners: "Moonlight" (2016), "The Shape of Water" (2017), "Green Book" (2018), and "Parasite" (2019).
Is regulating and qualifying art on this level to this extreme really even needed when it appears natural selection seems to be taking care of the situation on its own?
AMPAS is trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
The most glaring and hypocritical example of political correctness gone awry occurred in 2006 when the heavily-favored LGBTQ-themed "Brokeback Mountain" lost to "Crash" (which under the new rules would not qualify). Go to youtube.com and take note of liberal presenter Jack Nicholson’s shock at his announcement of the winner.
Even he can’t believe it. This short clip speaks volumes.
Nicholson knew some kind of fix was in.
Do a Google search for "most undeserving/overrated Best Picture winners" and "Crash" will show up near the top of all if not most of those lists. As hip and with-it as Hollywood thinks it might be, it would have rather given the award to a marginal crime-drama than to a gay-themed tragedy.
Getting back to the opening paragraph — why would AMPAS wait until 2024 to impose these new rule changes instead of doing so during this contentious election year?
The answer is quite simple.
From the time the seed for a movie is sown until it shows up for public consumption is roughly four years. Much effort goes into the making of a film — most of which the general public is not aware. If filmmakers and studios are given a four-year lead advance - to make movies which are politically correct to the Nth degree — they will do so, but probably against their better wishes and surely opposite their original intent.
Would you like to go back in time and dictate to Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Mozart, Hemingway, Picasso, Lennon and McCartney, Dylan, Jagger and Richards, or Prince what they should have chosen to be their subject matter? If you answer yes, than you might actually be the faux-force of which you are rallying against.
You are either for the suppression and/or restriction of art based on gender, race, sexual orientation and physical limitations or — you are not.
Dictating terms of artistic expression is the beginning of the end of true creativity integrity.
Censoring art or telling an artist what they can or can’t create isn’t the ultimate form of suppression but its mighty close. Be careful of what you wish for; it might come back to haunt, then bite you, in ways you’ve never even begun to imagine.
Originally from Washington, D."C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national media outlets, is currently the only newspaper-based film critic providing original content in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace and co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film related articles and is one of the scant few conservative-minded U.S. film critics. Read Michael Clark's Reports — More Here.
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