The Oscars are a showcase for Hollywood — Hollywood’s time to show the rest of America their best. In its early days, Hollywood decided to show Americans its glitz and glamour, its beauty and popularity; these were the days when movies like The Great Ziegfield and Gone With The Wind won Academy Awards. In its middle age, Hollywood decided to show Americans its power — its ability to tap into deep emotions while still providing spectacle; these were the years of Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia.
Now Hollywood is in its dotage. And it has decided to showcase its ability to spit in Americans’ eye — to remind Americans that those in Tinseltown occupy a lofty seat among the moral icons of our time. They’re no longer there to celebrate our commonality as Americans, or even remind us of that commonality. They’re interested in reminding us of the vast gap between our values and theirs. That’s why the only three films of the past ten years that earned $100 million at the box office and won Best Picture were Argo, a movie glorifying America as opposed to the evil of the mullahs’ Iran; The King’s Speech, a movie glorifying British resilience in the face of the Nazi threat; and Slumdog Millionaire — not coincidentally, a film not about depredations of Americans, but about overcoming evil and difficulty in India. Not one Best Picture since 2004 has been in the box office top 10.
Since the end of the first Bush term, then, Hollywood has decided that Americans are rubes. If Americans like a product, that’s because the product must be too bourgeois. Hollywood must use its special night to demonstrate to Americans just how gauche they really are.
And so, each year, that’s what Hollywood does. They live off the profits of Thor: Ragnorak while bragging at the cocktail parties about Call Me By Your Name. They cash the checks from Star Wars: The Last Jedi while handing statuettes to The Shape of Water. And they fill their shows each year with lectures on intersectionality and “important” messages.
There’s a reason the ratings keep dropping at the Oscars. And it’s not merely because people haven’t been seeing the movies that win. It’s because Hollywood specifically chooses to reward movies that aren’t big hits so they can point out to the rubes just how ignorant they truly are.
And when Hollywood does approve a film that Americans like (see, e.g., Wonder Woman or Black Panther), Americans are told that something historic has happened — even though Americans have routinely enjoyed films that carry virtuous messages. Americans just don’t like being patronized. And Hollywood’s entire sense of value rests in their belief that Americans are worth sneering at — even when Hollywood is attempting to move beyond one of the worst scandals in its history.