April Reign’s viral, influential #OscarsSoWhite campaign sparked a sea change in the Motion Picture Academy of America. The Oscars are becoming less relevant by the year (the telecast was down 14% last year among the 13-39 crowd), losing Gens Y & Z to changes in technology, taste, and politics. So the Academy began a massive diversification campaign, bringing in white women, men of color, and Black women to pump some new blood into the voting. The results are already stark: Moonlight came from out of nowhere to win Best Picture in 2017 and Jordan Peele’s race-horror masterpiece Get Out has him up for both Best Director nod and Best Picture (Vanity Fair is now pegging it to win). But race isn’t the only applecart turning over– new voters have pushed Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird front-and-center as well. The first-time solo director also took home a Golden Globe for the picture.
But it’s Get Out that has been unnerving older candidates the most. Gleaned from a piece in Vulture, new voters are finding themselves having to defend the film against older, whiter voters who dismiss it without having seen it. “I had multiple conversations with longtime Academy members who were like, ‘That was not an Oscar film,’” said a new voter to Vulture. “And I’m like, ‘That’s bullshit. Watch it.’ Honestly, a few of them had not even seen it and they were saying it, so dispelling that kind of thing has been super important.”
Right, because what does, “That was not an Oscar film” even mean? We’re guessing it’s a few things.
It’s a look at race through a Black lens
Pictures with race as a core dynamic are often viewed through a white lens. Need I remind you all of Best Picture winner Crash, which used race as deux ex machina to magically solve everything from human trafficking to corrupt cops. Get Out presents race from a Black perspective: a scary AF hall-of-mirrors where nothing is ever as it seems from which you can never escape since the prize is, always, your body. Not sure how those “voters in their 70s, 80s, and 90s in Beverly Hills whose view of the world is probably a little too locked-in,” could handle a film like that.
There were comedic moments in Get Out because, come on, Jordan Peele is a master. But it wasn’t funny because it wasn’t scary, it was funny because it was. Race is an absurdity thrust upon us whose doublespeak and nonsense can result in death. There really isn’t anything funnier than that because not laughing would, as James Baldwin said, put you in a rage nearly all the time.
We’re not talking a retelling of the British escaping Dunkirk and holding off the Nazis to give the Anglo-Saxon west a fighting chance in World War II. And we’re not talking imaginative, romantic fish gods finding love in a hopeless place. Both Dunkirk and The Shape Of Water are odes to old Hollywood. Get Out is not. It’s an ode to escape from a netherworld many older voters simply do not have access to.
Add all that together, sprinkle some crotchetiness in there and you’ve got a recipe for completely washing over one of the best films of the 21st century.