North Texas Daily

The Oscars: poignant, biting, and actually funny

The Oscars: poignant, biting, and actually funny

March 01
22:17 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer

@Presto_Mitch

Last Sunday’s Academy Awards had their lowest ratings in eight years despite drawing in 34 million viewers. It’s a shame since the Oscars was more interesting (and funnier) than it has been in quite some time. Faced with a justified backlash against the lack of black nominees, the Academy often seen as being too highbrow put away its pretense, acknowledged its mistakes and parodied itself.

The ceremony also preserved its prestige by addressing other serious issues and doing so with modesty. Much to the surprise of many, myself included, this all made for a strangely entertaining event.

Responsible for much of the spectacle was Chris Rock, who made constant jabs at Hollywood’s obvious preference for white entertainment. Not only was Rock’s opening monologue the funniest in years, his satire of #OscarsSoWhite was sharp at every turn. His remarks regarding the boycotters were especially clever: “Jada [Pinkett Smith] boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

Perhaps his most biting moment was when he referred to Hollywood as “sorority racist,” sarcastically saying “We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” Intrinsically, he pointed out how the film industry calls itself progressive but continues its habits instead. And it was hilarious.

Another reason 34 million tuned in was to participate in Facebook and Twitter commentation. While social media has affected the Oscars before, (i.e. Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie) Sunday night resulted in an endless stream of hashtags and memes. Of course, the chief topic being Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning Best Actor for “The Revenant.”

In addition, social media united for the night’s musical highlight: Lady Gaga’s shockingly powerful performance of “Til It Happens to You.” Channeling her past as a sexual assault victim into a spectacular anthem for other survivors, Gaga’s beautiful vocals and piano instrumentation were deeply resonant. Fueling the urge to hold back tears was the group of assault survivors, both men and women, that joined Gaga on the stage. It bookended a stellar block that Vice President Joe Biden began well, promoting #ItsOnUs to protect victims of sexual violence.

Sure, the Oscars had a few peculiar wins during the ceremony. Lady Gaga losing to Sam Smith, “Spotlight” losing Best Director, and Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) beating Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) all go without saying. At the same time, Alejandro González Iñárritu (“The Revenant”) used his Best Director speech to discuss hate crimes against Native Americans. This problem has plagued America throughout its history and it was respectable for Iñárritu to focus on a demographic that the media hardly recognizes.

Next year, it’ll be interesting to see what the Oscars will be up against. It had something to prove last Sunday and it delivered in more ways than everyone anticipated. In fact, closing the show to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” was not a coincidence. It was the Academy reminding us of its relevance, and that it is finally here to listen. I, for one, cannot wait to watch.

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