On Tuesday, Jan. 23, I got up at 5 a.m., as I have every morning for the past 23 years, to watch the live reading of the Academy Award nominations. My loyal readers know that I love cinema. I’ve addressed the sex scandals, discussed films, and I’ve used movies as a comparison and reference point many times to bring home my conservative points. I love watching movies, but Hollywood’s liberalism is such a pile of hypocrisy on so many levels that after these Oscar nominations, it’s hard to take its biggest party seriously anymore.
Besides President Donald Trump’s ongoing coverage of his first year in office, I would argue that the biggest stories of 2017 were the never-ending stories of Hollywood’s sexual aggression, rape and harassment toward women, teenage boys and girls, and a select number of male actors. Everyone was put on display. The Godfather Harvey Weinstein was kicked out, Dustin Hoffman was put on notice, Louis CK was silenced. Even Kevin Spacey was removed from a film, and his replacement, Christopher Plummer, has been cleaning up award recognition this whole winter, and rightfully so. These stories have created a fresh look in all industries at how women are treated and listened to. All of that is good except that Hollywood’s recent Best Picture nominees do not all reflect the new standard in appropriate sexual power balances.
The 2017 films nominated for best picture include The Shape of Water; Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri; Dunkirk; Darkest Hour; Get Out; Phantom Thread; Lady Bird; The Post and Call Me by Your Name. Overall, the films are well-made and well-received, with each enjoying its own version of box office success. Yet, one of these choices is very problematic considering the recent blacklisting of Hollywood royalty. Never underestimate Hollywood to talk out both sides of its mouth.
While #MeToo supporters like James Franco were snubbed when conflicting stories of their treatment of women were brought to light, the celebration of Call Me by Your Name feels as though the Academy decided that the idea of older men seducing and taking advantage of younger men and women was not appropriate for the office but perfectly fine to celebrate at the end-of-the-year office party.
Call Me by Your Name is a coming-of-age story about 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Oliver having a summer romance in Italy during the summer of 1983. While the film is gentle and watchable, beautifully shot and well-acted, the premise is straight from the headlines of the Kevin Spacey situation, when he was a young 26-year-old man flirting and kissing 14-year-old actors at parties. Had Elio been a female character, the power dynamic would have been another problematic theme as well. Isn’t the idea of older men using their influence part of the problem?
Instead, Hollywood has embraced this film as a beautiful love story. In fact, James Ivory’s screenplay, based on a book by the same name, is the frontrunner for the Adapted Screenplay statue according to Oscar prediction websites.
Maybe the distinction has to do with the consent on both ends. But that doesn’t work, because if this was a news story of a male teacher and female student of the same age gap, arrests would still be made because we expect adults to know better. Just like recent teacher-student news stories.
Maybe Hollywood fears it will look homophobic by not supporting the film, but does the gay community really want a film about this subject out there as their modern love story? I suspect many are quiet about the problematic plot.
Some argue that since Italy’s age of consent is 14 years old, no wrongdoing was had. So then why aren’t liberals pushing more “European values” regarding our 18-year-old consent age here in California? Maybe because we know that this type of relationship as wrong every time. That’s why. Unless it’s filmed with great-looking actors, of course.
This isn’t the only example of Hollywood hypocrisy. Remember, this is an industry that criticizes guns for solving nothing while using only guns to solve every action star’s problems. This is just another example of Hollywood saying it wants to solve the problem, but then celebrating it at the same time.