9 March 2010
Two thoughts on the Oscars last night. First, and most obviously, it takes truly awful writing to make the naturally funny Alec Baldwin fall flat as host. Second, and more substantively, it takes a collective cultural willingness to ignore reality to award the best actress Oscar to the woman who plays the nice, rich white lady who helps the poor black boy rise out of poverty and ignorance — rather than give it to the woman who plays the overweight, impoverished, sexually & psychologically abused black woman.
I don’t think I’d be complaining so much if one of the other actors had won. And my response has nothing to do with the actual performances by Bullock and Sidibe. It’s just that the politics are so transparent here. Sidibe forces us to witness the experience of one of America’s true subalterns; Bullock gives us hope for white agency. And then there’s the fact that we already know and like Bullock, despite a career of mostly pulpy films — whereas few can imagine Sidibe getting many parts from here on out (Jennifer Hudson, the lighter-skinned, thinner, and vocally extraordinary singer, has obtained only minor parts since winning a best-supporting actor award three years ago). Sigh.