The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has basically made it their business to look like a bunch of boring old fuddy-duddies. Not only did their nominations this year fail to recognize some of the year’s best and most progressive examples of filmmaking, like Drive, Take Shelter, and Shame, but they’ve also seemed to do everything in their power to make sure that nothing fun or new happens at the ceremony itself. The members of the Academy have gotten a lot of criticism lately for being made up mostly of out of touch, old white men, and with every decision that they make those claims appear to be more and more valid. It’s to the point where it seems like old white people aren’t just the only ones allowed to join their club, but they’re also the only ones they want watching their telecast.
Already this year they made the Internet mad by refusing to hear their pleas to let the Muppets host instead of going with their safe, usual choice of Billy Crystal. And most recently they’ve raised everyone’s Muppet ires once again by announcing that—despite the fact they were nominated for the original song “Man or Muppet” - nobody would actually be performing the nominated songs during this year’s ceremony, so a Muppet performance was out of the question. I mean, come on, who could be so cold-hearted that they refuse the Muppets twice?
The latest victim of their old man grumbling is apparently Sacha Baron Cohen. There are conflicting reports debating whether or not he has had his tickets to the event taken back. Despite the fact that he’s a member of the Academy and he co-starred in one of the year’s big nominees, Hugo, he may be getting banned from the show. Apparently Baron Cohen wanted to walk the red carpet fully dressed as his character from the upcoming comedy, The Dictator, and those in charge of the show freaked out at the possibility. “Unless they’re assured that nothing entertaining is going to happen on the Red Carpet, the Academy is not admitting Sacha Baron Cohen to the show,” a source told Deadline Hammersmith. Nothing entertaining indeed. We wouldn’t want to ruin the prestige of giving little golden statues to the safest productions and performances of the year. And heaven forbid young people have any reason whatsoever to tune in to this stuffy, highly respected affair.
THR has some comments that tell a slightly different side of the story. An Academy spokesperson told them, “We haven’t banned him. We’re just waiting to hear what he’s going to do.” According to the official position of the Academy, Baron Cohen hijacking the red carpet with his shenanigans isn’t at all appropriate, “but his tickets haven’t been pulled. We’re waiting to hear back.” Despite the fact that his tickets haven’t been officially pulled, I think the implication is pretty clear that they will be unless he agrees to behave himself. Am I crazy, or shouldn’t they be seeing a possible Baron Cohen stunt on the red carpet as a Godsend? Why wouldn’t you want people talking about the crazy stuff that could happen at your event?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand not wanting your awards show to devolve into a series of stunts meant to promote upcoming products; but I don’t think that the slippery slope argument holds much water here. The Academy has shown a systematic aversion to doing any thinking outside of the box when it comes to their annual event. If it isn’t the biggest stars in Hollywood stepping out of limousines while wearing millions of dollars in clothing and jewelry and then getting behind podiums to read carefully scripted patter, then they don’t want to hear it.
Movies are all about fun, escapism, and seeing the world from different viewpoints than we would ever be able to on our own. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would want the biggest yearly event that celebrates movies to be so consistently cookie-cutter and dry. Why shouldn’t this event be full of characters, color, and light-hearted entertainment? It’s the movies! Stop pretending like you’re handing out medals to war heroes, for the love of Pete.
Or maybe this is just one big publicity stunt. What do you think?