NOTE: I have not read the Oscar coverage in any mags, so i may just be repeating what is already written. sorry.
So the Oscars... i neither watched the oscars this year (no cable tv) nor did i see most of the movies that were up for best picture. i do however have two comments:
1. I am very glad that Ang Lee won best director for Brokeback Mountain. I finally saw this film and really enjoyed it. After I watched it, i checked it out on IMDB and read some threads on the symbolism between the elements of the earth and different characters. After I write three more lesson plans this week, I will def watch it a second time. Also Ang Lee is the first Asian/ Asian American to win this award, so that's pretty cool too.
2. I know every newspaper in the U.S. ran some kind of article about Crash upsetting Brokeback Mountain for best picture. Was I surprised? Hell no! I actually was pretty doubtful that Brokeback Moutain would win anything but did really believe that Crash would win big picture. I haven't really quite thought abt the implications of Brokeback Moutain losing***, but I def knew that Crash would win. Why? B/C of our society's need to pat itself on the back of "addressing" hard issues on race and power . YEAH RIGHT!
DISCLAIMER: This is not an attempt to be all academic and racial theorizing shit. this is simply what i remember as my initial reaction to the film.
I've seen this film once, only in the theater. Everyone was so freaking moved by this damn film. For me it was more like, "Eh, pretty much what a expected." Some ppl have compared it to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. NO WAY. Crash did very little to push the boundaries on the discussion of race. People thought this film was revolutionary and profound b/c they felt better educated and informed on US race relations, therefore they felt revolutionary and profound. it's kinda like when some white folks read peggy mcintosh's White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and are like, "Wow, she's right. "Flesh-colored" Bandaids do more or less match the color of my skin!" and stop there and think they have now acknowledged their privilege. Not to diss Peggy McIntosh, or anything. ANYWAY back to Crash.
Again, this is only what I remember from my ONE viewing of this movie. Crash attempts to complicate race, power, and racism by moving beyond good v evil, black v white. now, you all know i am a big fan of moving beyond the Black-White
paradigm. So far, so good. Actually, that was as far as i can remember being good. Okay, so what was problematic?
Beyond the black and white characters, the rest of the characters were seriously underdeveloped and one-dimensional. Now, I am not saying that there needs to be an equal number of black, white, latin@, asian american characters in this film, but come on, it's in freaking LA! the korean couple human trafficking? yes. super important issue. but one-dimensional representations of underdeveloped characters that basically leave you with, "oh, the korean ppl are selling other immigrants. whoa! those damn koreans." hello, matt dillon's racism (or was it his dad? i don't remember) is all superdeveloped and you know where he is coming from. most ppl know where white racism is coming from. not many ppl (including me) understand all the shit that surrounds human trafficking. so how are you going to overdevelop a familar character and underdevelop and applaud it for being controversial, educational, and pushing the envelope? HUH? also the family who owns the store. the store gets all wrecked and has some 9/11 Osama crap painted on the wall. one of the family members makes a statement like "they think we're arab. when did persian become arab?" interesting bringing in post 9-11 racialization, but again, just left at that. last comment, the locksmith guy who was latino? his daughter lives and "saves" him from being shot. OF COURSE his story line has some magical realism in there
alright so what is my point? it's easy to applaud a film that really does nothing but remind us that racism is still around in different ways. that people of color are racist too, not just white folks. that doesn't really challenge any images or stereotypes. this makes us all feel thoughtful and down for the struggle in a superficial way.
***actually, i have and am thinking about this. i am not quite ready to articualte my thoughts. obviously this is linked to our society's superficial ability to accept LGBTQ communities, particularly a legitimization of LOVE, not just sex. i am going to leave this untouched for now b/c i don't think i have the means to work through the complexities of the situation. yes, my heterosexual privilege allows me to not think about this often. because i don't often think abt lgbtq issues, when i do think abt such issues, i struggle with articulating my thoughts. still, always working on this. ya know?