Tonight marks the end of crazy season in the film industry, at least until the autumn, when people will start talking about the Oscar potential of everything that comes out in the cinema. Those of you with a knowledge of film history may find it a bit weird that the Awards set up in 1929 to give the ‘huckster’ show business some credibility are now so pervasive.
Whilst the organisational structure of film production was established alongside Taylorism, the marketing side of it grew up alongside the public relations ideology of Bernays. The Oscars are the public relations exercise of the film industry and everyone plays along with it. It’s strange, because it is widely publicised how the Academy is a white, male dominated area that votes for their own. Just read here or here. It is an experience that is hyped to the same extent that the movies themselves are hyped, and the prizes are valuable, even if nominated.
This isn’t the place to play bah-humbug before the party though. If you’re into it, you’re welcome to be into it. That’s the beauty of democracy. As Bernays said:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
“I bet you’d change your mind if you were offered one!” you may probably think. Well, it’s a hypothetical dilemma that I don’t think I’ll ever have to face, so it’s easy for me to say ‘no’ to the non-existent offer of the Academy acknowledging me. I was so proud of when we were voted by the audience into the Top Ten in Melbourne, but I think my pride came from the fact that the audience had voted for the film, not a group of cronies. So I’m not adverse to the notion of awards, just the criteria for how they are selected I guess.
In the same way that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, the Academy will continue to reward the things that perpetuate their advantage. As always, that’s great if you’re part of it, not so great if you’re not.