In September of 1997, the philosopher, scientist and much beloved philanthropist by the name of Dr. Evil was heard screaming “I’m surrounded by frickin’ idiots” as he plunged a number of the world’s most renowned assassins into the firey pits of his headquarters, a place we now refer to as his “Evil Lair”. This strong turn of phrase was one immediately felt by those who heard it, but just as is the case with any of the world’s most influential minds, the words of the man would come to mean even more as the years rolled on.
In 2020, the immortal presence of the scientist who once claimed rule over the moon feels more apropos than ever before, the old adage of being surrounded by “frickin’ idiots” feeling more true than at any other time in human existence. The world is governed by characters so extreme that even the screenwriter/director of comedy classic Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick, would struggle to imagine them into existence, but while the decisions of governments may greatly impact our lives, it must be noted that there is no group of more important men in the world than those in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and no group more idiotic in their eyes than us, the film-going public.
For years, the members of the world’s most elite taskforce of Artistic Interpretation Enforcement (AIE) have voted to tell us exactly which films, short or long, should be considered the very best of any given year, making sure that smucks like Stanley Kubrick never get a look in for their narrow-minded, shallow, terribly constructed films that (clearly) never influenced anybody. In fact, for close to one hundred years you could say that the Academy (the AIE) have seen themselves as being “surrounded by frickin’ idiots”.
We’re the idiots.
And, as idiots; who are we to argue with their choices? It’s not like they’ve ever messed up…
This year, for example, it was clearly impossible to vote for Jennifer Lopez or Awkwafina in the acting categories because people of colour can’t act! How could Alma Har’el, Lulu Wang or Greta Gerwig possibly be considered for Best Director when they’re women?? We’re clearly deluded if we think it’s possible for a superhero or horror film to receive nominations, and quite honestly we must be deaf, dumb and blind to assume that a comedy actor like Adam Sandler didn’t just fluke his way to a Best of 2019 performance in Uncut Gems.
Honestly, why they even bother to grace us with their superior artistic knowledge at all is beyond any of us. They’re like… Gods, or something.
So sure, the AIE only watch a film if there’s a corporately sponsored party beforehand, and they’re probably drunk when they do, but if they know a guy who was once good or they played golf with another guy who released something this year, then; why shouldn’t they give them their nomination? It’s not like any of us know any better, or actually watch movies. Besides, only a truly good movie would get a corporately funded “for your consideration” campaign anyway, because clearly capitalism doesn’t exist and studios never have ulterior motives.
And honestly, for us to even contemplate how declining broadcast ratings may have influenced the AIE into embracing more so-called “mainstream” cinema like Joker this year would be totally ignorant of how remarkably artistic and so much more special than any superhero/villain film (in history) it truly is, not to mention how much more deep and superior it was to every other film released in the 2019 calendar year. 11 nominations for the one billion dollar movie is absolutely not fighting back against the stigma created by past minds in the AIE, and the fact that it’s the first mainstream film to be featured so heavily since fellow Warner Bros. effort Dunkirk doesn’t speak of studio power to any extent whatsoever.
Honestly, we should just give up on these far-fetched dreams of AIE members actually seeing more than a handful of releases a year, because; how could we possibly know what it’s like to have to drink all of that champagne? How could we ever know the truly tasking work of making and judging movies when all we have to do is work 45 hours per week for our one bedroom flat in the outskirts of nowhere?
Honestly, we think we’re surrounded by idiots who vote stupidly in politics, but imagine being in the AIE at this time of the year? Having to go back to our mansions and read tweets about how we’re racist and sexist, misogynistic and/or plain wrong? Any of us would be caught crying into our golden throne made out of the general normies’ hard-earned money.
But do they flinch? Not for a second.
Every year, they find the bravery and the grace needed to enlighten us with their unbiased and monumentally important, but never bought or ignorant opinions, and truthfully we should all just be grateful for that. Because, were it not for them, we would have never discovered the great works of Charlie Chaplin, Sir Alfred Hitchock, Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, Howard Hawkes, Sergio Leone, Pam Grier, James Dean, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Mia Farrow, Akira Kurosawa, Cecil B. DeMille, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Amy Adams, Ava DuVernay, Sofia Coppola, Edward Norton, Lynne Ramsay, Claire Denis, Samuel L. Jackson or Peter O’Toole.
Each of the names on that list have never been awarded a competitive Oscar.
Maybe, just maybe, the Academy’s views are as dated as this article’s Austin Powers reference. Maybe, just maybe, they ought to be plunged into the firey depths of artistic obscurity. Maybe.