Henry: The Oscars lacked representation, true appreciation for film

People+walk+on+the+red+carpet+at+the+intersection+of+Hollywood+and+Highland+during+the+81st+Academy+Awards+Ceremony.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+BDS2006+Via+Wikimedia+Commons%29

People walk on the red carpet at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue during the 81st Academy Awards Ceremony Feb. 22, 2009. (Photo courtesy of BDS2006 Via Wikimedia Commons)

Brendan Henry, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Unless you have been dwelling in an underground bunker with no internet connection, you’ve probably heard about the whole Will Smith fiasco involving Chris Rock receiving the slap heard ‘round the world. What you likely haven’t heard much about are the actual Academy Award recipients and the work that got them their prestigious awards.

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Smith slapped Rock with one hand and, with the other, took away the biggest moment in some artists’ lives. Recognition on such a grand scale as the Oscars is a big deal, and people like Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson — who directed his first documentary, “Summer of Soul,” and received an award for it — were overshadowed by one act of aggression that stole the show.

Not only that but the Academy Awards also failed to televise eight different categories they seem to have deemed lesser than the rest, including Best Documentary Short, Best Original Score and Best Animated Short. Sure, winners in these categories received Oscars, but unless the public sought to find out who won, they would likely never know. The people who won did not receive the same recognition as the more notable celebrities did.

What’s the point of even having a ceremony if people are not getting equal and proper representation?

Buried beneath Smith’s nationally televised episode were jokes about animated movies and how they are meant to only be watched by children. These jokes received both chuckles and criticism from audiences around the globe.

“Do what you enjoy. Find a group that will appreciate and help develop your work instead of seeking out the validation of celebrities who know nothing about the amount of effort you have put into something. The Oscars are for television ratings and back-patting of the famous.”

The thing is, they really don’t matter.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the folks who give out the Academy Awards — dropped the ball in terms of recognizing everyone who put out amazing work and allowed several celebrities to downplay certain types of art.

“(The Academy Awards are) like a bunch of celebrities who just want to make each other feel good, you know, for a night,” said Matthew Gohl, Heartland Emmy award winner and a professor in journalism and media communication at Colorado State University.

Students wishing to pursue work in the field of visual arts shouldn’t feel negative because of what some random celebrity said. Most of these celebrities are tucked away in their own little world with jokes and opinions ready to be heard. Just like the opinion of the average coworker, take it with a grain of salt.

The Academy Awards are not the only place to receive validation for work in visual arts, but they’re the most popular. There are many communities for different forms of media, plenty of other festivals to enter and awards to receive. Random actors are typically not the kinds of people that should be publicly criticizing animation, for instance.

Do what you enjoy. Find a group that will appreciate and help develop your work instead of seeking out the validation of celebrities who know nothing about the amount of effort you have put into something. The Oscars are for television ratings and back-patting of the famous.

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“Yeah, it’s a bummer. I guess it’s on the big stage and the celebrities kind of dissed stuff, but I mean, who cares?” Gohl said. “Find that other community that’s just more in tune with what the actual art form is.”

Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.