Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Make the Oscars American Again

As I'm fairly sure that you're aware, President Trump has been reported to have been unimpressed that Parasite won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The North American distribution house for the movie, Neon, hit back on Twitter that it was "Understandable" that the President didn't like the movie. "He can't read," they snarked.

I suspect that they missed the point. President Trump's alleged desire to always be the center of attention has been well remarked-upon by the news media since the 2016 primary campaign season. One would think that in the intervening four years, they would have come to the realization that some of the President's statements can be chalked up to that desire for attention. Of course, this does leave them in something of a quandary. After all, someone will dutifully report on anything that the President has to say, no matter how pointless, and the "What Has Trump Done Now" constituency will rush over to read it. Being left off the bandwagon in bad for clicks, and thus, advertising revenue, so nothing must be left to lie as unimportant.

But it's also just as plausible that the President really didn't care one way or another about the Academy Awards. His comments were made during a reelection campaign rally in Colorado Springs. This places the President in front of an audience that has been very receptive to his "America is the best" rhetoric, and the case can be made that his calling for more movies like Gone With the Wind and Sunset Boulevard to be made and, presumably, to win Best Picture, is simply pandering to an audience that believes that even if the United States isn't best at literally everything, that institutions that reside in the United States should always favor domestic productions above all others. And drawing attention to a disagreement (real or fabricated) with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their lack of patriotism plays well in "the Heartland," especially for those whose understanding of "patriotism" goes beyond "my country, right or wrong" to "my country is always right."

Partisanship often expresses itself in an understanding that the world is withholding from one what they truly deserve. And eventually, that deserving stops becoming due to having earned something in a way that can be objectively demonstrated. Rather, it becomes an assumed entitlement; the deserving becomes the proof of having earned it. Talking about these entitlements doesn't always have to be particularly dramatic, or bellicose. Sometimes, simply reminding people that the things they like aren't well enough appreciated by the people they don't like is enough.

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