…perhaps it’s worth a look at some relevant thoughts from last year’s show?
-In Pursuit of the Trivial
(By the way, read on to catch a glimpse of an angry letter I received for that Oscar column)
Here is the letter I received in response to the Oscars column I wrote (linked above). I took out the reader’s name but left in the spelling mistakes for the sake of accuracy (c’mon, at least get my name right). Needless to say, the letter didn’t make it into the paper… though perhaps if it adhered to the length guidelines it could’ve been.
The attached document is a response to Nathan Matisse's "Oscars need to lighten up to attract viewers" from Tuesday 2/26. It would be great if the D.O. published it, though I doubt this is the only response Matisse's article has prompted. My information is all there. Thanks.
In the Pulp section of Tuesday’s issue, columnist Nathan Matisse takes great pains to detail as he attempts to enlighten his audience on everything that was wrong with the Academy Awards presentation on Sunday. Unfortunately, Matisse establishes himself as a poor authority on the topic within the first few sentences of his article, “Oscars Need to Lighten Up to Attract Viewers.” Because he admittedly turned on the Academy Awards show with reluctance, it should come as no surprise to him that he did not find it interesting or enjoyable. Still, the optimistic Matisse offers some of his own bits of advice on how to improve the Oscars, the first being “Quit being so pretentious.” He elaborates by stating that “movies lots of people watch simply don’t win Oscars.” This allegation is flawed in and of itself as he fails to recognize a specific demographic. True movie buffs and critics such as myself have seen many of this year’s Oscar-nominated films and thoroughly enjoyed them. Matisse complains that top box office-grossing films such as Spider-Man, Shrek, and Harry Potter weren’t nominated for any Oscars. While “lots of people” have seen these movies, the honest truth here is that any moviegoer who finds them on his or her list of the best films of the year would be better off watching the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards than a show as professional and prestigious as the Oscars. Dismissing me as “pretentious” for thinking that Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem gave better performances this year than Tobey Maguire and Optimus Prime is a juvenile and unwarranted assertion. What Matisse must understand is that the Oscars don’t award movies just because they are high-class, sophisticated, or obscure. Nor do they award movies just because they gross well at the box office. They award good movies, period. And as host Jon Stewart affirmed, they tend to completely ignore the films that aren’t good.
Matisse’s second suggestion for improving the Oscars is to “Add more categories people care about.” Again, this broad definition of the “people” demographic consists solely of moviegoers who probably would never watch the Oscars in the first place. Matisse mocks the merit of the relatively esoteric technical categories of Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. If there’s one thing the writer’s strike has taught us, it’s that this is the exact kind of mentality we want to avoid. Thousands of television fans never truly grasped the importance of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes work until they found their favorite shows disappearing one by one because the writers refused to write. Now that the strike is finally over, we appreciate our writers more than ever. What if all of Hollywood’s sound editors and mixers went on strike? Our favorite shows would have no sound! I’m not saying I’m some kind of technical expert who knows exactly what the difference is between sound editing and sound mixing. All I’m saying is that off-camera workers deserve just as much praise and respect as the actors you see on screen.
Matisse continues his argument by making a comparison between the Oscars and the Grammys. He applauds the Grammys for emphasizing what’s popular in the music industry, further evidencing his closed-minded “mass appeal” approach to entertainment. He also states that the Best Picture award should be broken down by genre. Seriously? What horror movie this year deserves to join the ranks of No Country For Old Men? Saw IV? Not to mention many of the genres he mentions can occupy more than one category, especially “romance” and “drama.”
Lastly, Matisse suggests that the Oscars “Ditch the musical acts.” Though I personally felt the “Best Original Song” category lost all of its credibility when Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” won in 2006, it is important to showcase the musical nominees to deviate from the usual awards, montages, and witty banter between presenters.
In his concluding paragraph, Matisse declares that he “could go on and on with suggestions.” I’m glad he stopped there. Actually, I wish he stopped earlier, or didn’t write at all. He even calls out directly to Hollywood, stating, “If you’re reading this, Academy, you can start off with any of these ideas and you don’t even need to credit me, it’s cool.” Looks like even the writer himself realizes that with suggestions as outrageous and despicable as his, he’s better off anonymous.
(Smarty Pants Movie Conuseur Whose Name Is Removed For Confidentiality)
PS – By the way Nathan, you really should get into Lost. It’s a great show.