Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gay Reactions to The Crash "Upset"

by Chris
A lot of internet journalists are making a big stink about Brokeback being robbed for best picture. Many pundits are blaming the loss on homophobia, saying that the mostly older academy voters didn't wan't to see the movie because they were uncomfortable with the pup tent scene or didn't agree with a movie that attacks the "tradition" of the straight western cowboy.

Personally, I think this is bullshit. Homophobia had nothing to do with it. Are these "elderly homophobic voters" the same ones who gave the best picture to Midnight Cowboy in 1970 and nominated all these gay-themed movies this year!?

To me, the real reason Crash won is because the academy doesn't appreciate subtlety or realism. Best Picture always goes to movies with bombast, movies that have a message and scream it out at the top of their lungs. Brokeback uses many subtle visual metaphors, veiled references, and has a main character who speaks almost completely in body language. It never had a chance at best picture.

There are other factors at work. Crash is more of an actorly picture, and actors make up the biggest voting bloc of the academy. It was also helped by the fact that it was filmed in Los Angeles (it is a sore spot for most hollywood types that less and less movies are being made in LA.)

I wasn't upset at all when Crash won. I thought Brokeback was a better film, but there are a bunch of 2005 movies that I liked a whole lot better. A History of Violence, Grizzly Man, and Constant Garderner were not even nominated, so I really could have cared less if Crash or BBM won.

I wanted to get a perspective from the gay community (there isn't much of one where I live), so I posted on the forums of Stonewall Champions, the gay World of Warcraft guild that I am a member of. We have over 200 members from all over the world, here is what some of them had to say:

"Screw the Oscars, its just a method for actors to raise their movie salaries, anyway. I read in a magazine that if you win an oscar in an important category like Best Actor, you can make an extra 5-10 million..."

"My impression after I left Brokeback was that it was a good movie, an important story to be told, but I did not think it was of Best Picture caliber. I thought that Ang Lee and Heath Ledger deserved nominations though. So when Brokeback didn't win I wasn't suprised.
What I am disappointed about is all these gays crying homophobia in Hollywood. Give me a break. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a truly fucking amazing actor, won Best Actor for playing a gay character.
No, I absolutely do not think it is homophobic that Brokeback didn't win. It was a great movie. It wasn't a Best Picture though, in my opinion.
I do think it is heterophobic to be crying homophobia over this.

"It didn't win best picture, but it did win for book to movie. I read the story. The SHORT story. It was amazing how the story came through in the movie, but they botched the end of the movie. I enjoyed the story, as I like most of A. Proulx's work, but it ruined me for the movie."

I do think there was homophobia in it, though I think there were other factors.
I found Brokeback mountain to be an amazing, haunting movie.
I thought Crash was over-the-top crap.
Hollywood, however, does like over-the-top crap, so you can't entirely fault homophobia."

"Obviously CRASH got it because it had an ensemble cast...(more academy voters and friends)....and the ick factor for straight academy males was too much to overcome in the end. As far as I'm concerned, Ang Lee already cleaned up with most every other major award out there and the controversy about the movie put it front and center for months and months....while it didn't win the oscar it certainly made an impression....slowly the moralistic gerentocracy is dying off and we'll be left with a somewhat more enlightened mass culture.

"I was dissapointed but not hugely surprised about Brokeback not winning. It won: best director, best screenplay, and best score. What that says to me is that the academy's sentiments on Brokeback are 'We like everything about the movie aside from the characters and plot.'"

"How anyone can attribute brokeback losing to a lack of 'gay tolerance' astounds me --- not even mentioning past winners in categories with this theme, and the fact that brokeback DID win two awards. I will say I can't comment about Brokeback itself since I haven't seen it yet - waiting for the commotion to die down, living in NYC it is impossible to see the movie on its own merits until at least a year from now when I stop hearing about it everyday.
But I guess the academy must be intolerant to give the award to a movie that points the finger at every american citizen, subculture, race, religion, class, and gender as being hypocritical - and a wake up call to us all. (note my sarcasm).
Had this ANYTHING to do with homophobia - Brokeback would simply not have been nominated for anything."

"From what I heard and what insiders kept saying to the press, it wasn't that much of an upset when I watched Crash win. I kept hearing Crash as the darkhorse prediction of the show. As well, I keep hearing the the fact that 5000 out of the 6000 academy voters live in the area so it's very much on their minds and they felt touched by it."

"I don't know if it's just me but I'd like to see a movie about two gay characters where they are not comic relief or horribly tragic (i.e. Brokeback Mountain). I just like to see an epic gay romantic movie where everyone lives happily ever after. You know, one of those movies that makes you bawl at the end…but not because everyone died or ends up being alone for the rest of their lives. If that's asking too much, I'd settle for a gay romantic comedy (where the comedy is based on events not the fact the the main characters are gay)."

"I wasn't surprised to hear Crash won, actually. I, like others, enjoyed Brokeback, but didn't consider it 'Best Picture' quality.
Additionally, I hear the SAG has their own separate awards some time before the Academy Awards. The SAG Awards had Crash as Best Picture. And the SAG makes up the biggest portion of votes in the Academy."

"Just a little actor input:
The academy awards are not about honoring the year's best films. Shocking, I know. They are about increasing the amount of money people spend on said films in the rentals and from word of mouth that follows.
This year they basically gave every major nominated picture (and every major studiohouse as well, I might add) at least one award.
It's all about money. Same thing with the Tony Awards. It's not about what the best shows were that year, it's about getting buzz for the regional theaters who want the easiest and most cost effective tours to come in.
Anyways, Crash, imho, is absolutely awful. But the second I saw it I knew it would win. Too easy a choice."


Blogger Count Olaf said...

I almost didn't see this update, since posts keep piling on...
But thank you for doing this and putting those viewpoints out there.
It's like you're doing "work" for gone-elsewhere... Tone it down! You're making the rest of us look bad!

3/08/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

It's not often I can put out a good volume of writing without hitting a block, when I get the inspirado I have to let it flow.

I can't take too much credit though, I basically let my guildies write this one for me. Wow, getting other people to do my job for me, this is like work!

3/08/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I think "bullshit" is a strong word, but I'd definitely agree that it's gotten way out of hand. Obviously, I think it's silly to attribute homophobia to Crash voters in general.

But it's equally silly to pretend that homophobia played no role at all. I doubt Academy voters are all that different from people in general - there are open-minded ones, and less open-minded ones. It's just a fact of life whenever you're talking about a large group of people. In a presumably close race, it seems farily obvious that a small group of anti-gay voters may have played a role in the outcome.

Now with that said, I think it cuts both ways. Or rather, all kinds of ways. I'm sure there were also people who voted for Brokeback just because it was about gay men. I'm sure there were people who voted for Crash just because it gave prominent roles to black actors. And so forth.

So I guess my viewpoint comes down to acknowledgement that various political concerns always play a role. That's just how it is.

3/08/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Hey, what happened to your standing on your soapbox for Capote? I really liked that bit (I peeked at your draft).

On a completely different subject, I don't know why a Gay and Lesbian World of Warcraft Guild makes me very happy.

3/08/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

We can peek at other's drafts? I'm going to have to be more careful from now on....

3/08/2006 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

You shy?

I'll let you see mine if I can see yours.

3/08/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

On a completely different subject, I don't know why a Gay and Lesbian World of Warcraft Guild makes me very happy.

Yes, and it looks like a few of them have found their way here via Rough Trade.

Welcome, guildies!

3/08/2006 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Maybe I am shy, but it has more to do with artistic integrity or some such puffery. I can leave some crappy jottings laying around as a draft, and I'd hate for someone to nail me for something I never intended for public consumption....

3/08/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Now you're reminding me of that scene in All the President's Men where Bernstein is rewriting Woodward's drafts out from under his nose.... ;-)

3/08/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Being an middle-class american white male, the N-Word makes me extremely uncomfortable :)

I had to clip some of the comments for space and brevity's sake, and I think the got his point across well enough without the n...(nope, still cant bear to type it out) sentence.

I don't think I'm gonna do drafts anymore anyway. If I post something new, I want it to show up on the top of the list.

Wow, that just sounded really egotistical.

3/08/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I'm into hearing about the greatness of Capote. We finally got it at the Multiplex where I toil (I saw it for the first time at the art house in Princeton in November) and I've been ducking in to watch it again. The film just draws me in, no matter what part. I've finally decided that it's my favorite film of 2005. It would have gotten my vote if I were an Academy member.

3/09/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I really need to see Capote. I hope it comes out on DVD soon. Should I buy it or rent it from the ultimate blessing upon mankind that is Netflix?

3/09/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

"Capote" was my #2 movie of the year behind "Brokeback." I think that the dynamics between Hoffman and Keener and Hoffman and Collins are among the most fascinating I've ever seen on the big screen. I'd definitely like to see it again to see how it plays on repeat viewings.

The only problem I had with the film was that it was a bit too slow in patches, whereas "Brokeback" just flowed perfectly for me. I know that Miller trimmed a decent amount of the film after a test screening, and I'd love to see that footage restored b/c I know this is kind of counterintuitive, but with a good film, I almost always feel that I'm more drawn when a subsequent director's cut comes out that is longer.

3/09/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Methinks it comes out on DVD next week or the week after.

3/09/2006 09:53:00 AM  

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