Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Phoenix at a Nadir

 

So, I’m at a diner last Sunday and the Oscars are on. But the sound was off. Which I considered Thomas Aquinas’ Sixth Proof of the Existence of God. So, as I glance up at the screen and the first award’s announced, Brad Pitt bounds onstage to grab it and I’m thinking “The man is 56. His hair’s gotta be getting a lifetime achievement award.” Actually, it was for best supporting actor, but either way, my not caring could’ve been measured in mega-tonnage till a waitress gets up and, much to my chagrin and over my internal screams of “C’mon, God, I’ll do anything you want if she just doesn’t–,” but it’s too late. She grabs the remote and doesn’t just flip on the sound, she turns it up to its “This is gonna ruin Richard’s night” level (for “Spinal Tap” fans, yes, that is higher than 11). Now, I’m in show business so I understand all the inner technical workings of how things go, but for the uninitiated, you know what happens when you turn the sound up on an awards show? Actors speak and you’re forced to listen to them!

Now, I’m not saying actors are dumb … just … lacking breadth. And … depth. But, to be fair, if you’re a world-class talent in anything, you’re probably focusing on that from a very early age and aren’t a walking library. My guess is as a teenager Serena Williams probably thought “Anna Karenina” was the Estonian qualifier she bageled the hell out of in Berlin last week.

So, I’m there in the diner and for the next four hours — did I mention it was a diner and bar — I watch all these actor folks “accept” for “whatever” while speechifying endlessly trying to convince everyone (and, no doubt, themselves) how engaged, woke, and socially conscious they were while not realizing that being crazy emotional about everything doesn’t prove you have more than a paper-thin intellect or something actually worth saying.

Which brings us to the Joaquin Phoenix trainwreck section of the evening. He wins best actor and a global platform and all he wants his captive millions to focus on is how immoral “artificial cow insemination” is. Really, Joaquin? That’ll get the audience all anxious for next year’s show while this one isn’t even in the books yet! I’m warning you, buy those ads early, Madison Ave! I’m just glad Joaquin showed a little restraint by not whipping out those supporting cow pics I’ve seen on his website (and that he probably had on him).

You ever look at Phoenix’s eyes, by the way? Bellevue security-cam nutso, emotional crackers stuff. If I were in the audience that night I’d make damn sure the closest door to me was unlocked in case he decided to artificially inseminate us all with lead. And, just to mention it, at the BAFTAs (the Brit version of the Oscars which many American actors wouldn’t attend unless given a first-class plane ride, advance notice of winning, and a night out after the show clubbing with Prince Andrew), how does the guy possibly think telling folks he’s going to save the planet by wearing the same tux for the entire awards season will generate anything but ridicule or pity or both? (Well, on social media, anyway, as odds are other attendees that eve wouldn’t dare throw questionable looks at a BAFTA winner during his moment – well, what was supposed to be a moment but his speech was six minutes long by this point and he hadn’t even gotten to the sobbing part yet.)

So, as Joaquin got nearer the merciful end of what became his I-feel-everyone’s-pain-damnit! soliloquy he thanked God he could be a “voice for the voiceless” not realizing most folks wished he was actually “voiceless” or they were simply “earless” depending on which lifeboat was available. But before he could put the deer on the hood and leave, he made the mistake of yammering on just long enough to actually stumble onto something that might be worth discussing (presuming “discussions” can happen in his world which is populated most likely by hired-hand head-nodders spread in his proximity). Namely the “systemic racism” actors suffer in Hollywood. What? Wait! That one, again? Finally, something that interested me more than my fourth Jack Daniels and, believe me, he was winking at me. More “interesting” because its ridiculousness was so obvious, so ironically, well, award deserving.

Now, I’ve worked in Hollywood for a long time and if one thing’s obvious, the actors and all the “talent” types don’t divvy up evenly by race/gender/sexuality/etc. (It, naturally, varies human to human, year to year.) So the hope of “most movie casts being 30 percent minority to better reflect society” as some have suggested is right up there with the hope of Angela Merkel showing up early to a NATO breakfast meeting and not flicking at the tiny American flag next to Trump’s orange juice when no one’s looking.

Add to that, most but not all actor’s roles (especially leads) demand a certain look, a certain very specific type, and has to be cast accordingly and that eliminates 98% of actors from every role the moment something’s greenlit. (Sure, some unexpected actor can come in and “nail it” occasionally, but very rarely.) Also, the fictional world that a film’s built around can often have characters largely with similar geographies, historical contexts, and looks, so diversity can’t always be woven into stories. Writers write stories that interest them. Directors direct stories they wanna tell. And their individual backgrounds, what their personal world has been in their own lives, often influence what those stories are and what eventually goes in front of the cameras.

The best way to get the desired diversity is by taking more ideas from pitch to production from minority creatives so characters and stories are more race/ethnic/culturally specific from the word go. And movies made this way are much more organic feeling (it’s obvious that Spike Lee and John Singleton, Esai Morales and John Leguizamo, e.g., have very sharp visions from their lives that greatly benefit all of their projects). Believe me, Hollywood is an infinitely random, frustrating, difficult business and anyone who thinks for a moment that actors in movies should meet quotas just doesn’t fully get the creative process. (And, as far as awards go, the idea that diversity should come into play with nominations just seems to lose focus on what is being celebrated, “best achievement(s) in…”)

Truth is, Hollywood is made up of two worlds. The “show” world and the “business” world. One world bounces around town trying to exhibit deeply human characters and their fictional tribulations to casting directors. The other rams creative teams together thinking they’re perfect to make blockbusters. To be vulgar about it—and I’ve been in the business my whole life so I can—there’s an [expletive] of money to be made in Hollywood and whatever combination of things gets you to that gigantic check-cashing Xanadu motivates a lot in this town. Firstly, you have to get the lead right (and all the main roles). Randomly casting them to keep the PC Police in check is reckless, especially if you’re a studio head who wants to gather as many ducats as possible, everything else be damned.

So, Joaquin, thanks for “The Joker,” a uniquely challenging role expertly executed by you. Sincerely. But as far as making movies along a diversity assembly line, your idea is quixotic and might have to just EXIT and FADE OUT.

Published in Entertainment, Humor
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 19 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I went to a dairy farm–really–last weekend. My family went to see the cows in the fields, eat some ice cream, and pet the goats. We had a lovely time. But let me tell you. When I mentioned the Oscars speech and asked the dairy farmer what she thought about it… gracious goodness. 

    First, she’d actually watched the show for some reason. Second, she then ranted for a long enough time that even the ducks we were feeding started to look awkward about what actors don’t know and how angry she got after feeling personally attacked by someone who knows really nothing about her business. Third, I guess you’re saying the actor doesn’t know anything about his business either? :) 

    During that rant, I learned a lot–there was a LOT, like a dam had broken LOT–about dairy farms, so I thank Phoenix for that. (The dairy farmer was, actually, lovely. She just felt attacked and wanted a moment to respond, since, you know, no one gives rebuttals at the Oscars.)

    • #1
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:19 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  2. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Reading your post was like watching His Girl Friday. I wish scriptwriters still tried to stuff that many zingers into one story. Thanks.

    • #2
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:25 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  3. Old Bathos Moderator

    The real bar to diversity in Hollywood is probably groupthink. Forty years ago, in The View from Sunset Boulevard, Ben Stein detailed a mindset that has since changed very little.   For example, as Stein pointed out in 1979, on cop TV shows, the black or Hispanic kid arrested ten minutes in is invariably innocent–it is the rich white stockbroker who killed the callgirl. Blacks are either full ghetto or the Cosby family–other modes and dimensions are apparently discouraged. (One recalls Robert Townsend’s wickedly funny skit about an acting school that teaches classically trained black actors to speak ghetto so they can get roles in movies and TV.)

    Then there is the perpetual belief that rural America is a primitive seething savage horde likely to prey on urbanites whose vehicle breaks down between metropolitan oases. 

    More recently, the stereotype library was expanded to include the trope that the bombing was never done by the Muslim kid arrested in the first ten minutes and that all homosexuals are wise and caring best friends of a lead character.

    I think that diversity would instantly expand if the film and TV community realized how insular they are and decided to expand their own mental horizons. Self-congratulatory, risk-averse, politically and culturally homogenous cliques are never going to be “diverse” in any meaningful way. And when they try it will always come off as tokenism.

    If it were not so formulaic, PC and heavy-handed, movies and TV could still positively change attitudes. I would argue that the single-most influential stereotype-buster in TV history was casting Greg Morris as a computer/tech wizard in Mission Impossible in 1966, a major image-changer delivered by a competent actor without the need for any preachiness or cartoon racist villains.

    • #3
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:47 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I saw Anna Karenina open for Keith Urban in Nashville back in ‘99.

    • #4
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:51 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Podkayne of Israel Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The real bar to diversity in Hollywood is probably groupthink. Forty years ago, in The View from Sunset Boulevard, Ben Stein detailed a mindset that has since changed very little. For example, as Stein pointed out in 1979, on cop TV shows, the black or Hispanic kid arrested ten minutes in is invariably innocent–it is the rich white stockbroker who killed the callgirl. Blacks are either full ghetto or the Cosby family–other modes and dimensions are apparently discouraged. (One recalls Robert Townsend’s wickedly funny skit about an acting school that teaches classically trained black actors to speak ghetto so they can get roles in movies and TV.)

    Then there is the perpetual belief that rural America is a primitive seething savage horde likely to prey on urbanites whose vehicle breaks down between metropolitan oases.

    More recently, the stereotype library was expanded to include the trope that the bombing was never done by the Muslim kid arrested in the first ten minutes and that all homosexuals are wise and caring best friends of a lead character.

    I think that diversity would instantly expand if the film and TV community realized how insular they are and decided to expand their own mental horizons. Self-congratulatory, risk-averse, politically and culturally homogenous cliques are never going to be “diverse” in any meaningful way. And when they try it will always come off as tokenism.

    If it were not so formulaic, PC and heavy-handed, movies and TV could still positively change attitudes. I would argue that the single-most influential stereotype-buster in TV history was casting Greg Morris as a computer/tech wizard in Mission Impossible in 1966, a major image-changer delivered by a competent actor without the need for any preachiness or cartoon racist villains.

    Well said! This is why I watch only documentaries and true crime, when I watch anything at all.

    • #5
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  6. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Vaczy: Now, I’m not saying actors are dumb

    Why not?

    • #6
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. Suspira Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    (The dairy farmer was, actually, lovely. She just felt attacked and wanted a moment to respond, since, you know, no one gives rebuttals at the Oscars.)

    Oscar rebuttals would be a terrific idea. Seriously, couldn’t these award shows be counted as campaign contributions?

    • #7
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    For example, as Stein pointed out in 1979, on cop TV shows, the black or Hispanic kid arrested ten minutes in is invariably innocent–it is the rich white stockbroker who killed the callgirl.

    I wonder if more Hollywood hippies would listen to the business sense of avoiding such PC nonsense purely for the sake of keeping stories unpredictable. 

    • #8
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. JuliaBlaschke Coolidge

    I can’t stand Batman movies so have no intention of seeing Joker, but after seeing pics of Phoenix I suspect he didn’t have to act very much.

    • #9
    • February 18, 2020, at 6:11 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Steve C. Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Reading your post was like watching His Girl Friday. I wish scriptwriters still tried to stuff that many zingers into one story. Thanks.

    Hear, hear!

    • #10
    • February 18, 2020, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    (The dairy farmer was, actually, lovely. She just felt attacked and wanted a moment to respond, since, you know, no one gives rebuttals at the Oscars.)

    Oscar rebuttals would be a terrific idea. Seriously, couldn’t these award shows be counted as campaign contributions?

    Ooooh! A bunch of wise guys in a room with sofas and a keg, coming up with one liners, then when the Oscar are over, cut to the wise guys as they go full Ricky Gervais

    • #11
    • February 18, 2020, at 9:44 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    JuliaBlaschke (View Comment):

    I can’t stand Batman movies so have no intention of seeing Joker, but after seeing pics of Phoenix I suspect he didn’t have to act very much.

    That was my impression.

    • #12
    • February 18, 2020, at 9:59 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    If there is a problem with diversity, it is obviously the writers to blame. ?

    • #13
    • February 18, 2020, at 10:00 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    (The dairy farmer was, actually, lovely. She just felt attacked and wanted a moment to respond, since, you know, no one gives rebuttals at the Oscars.)

    Oscar rebuttals would be a terrific idea. Seriously, couldn’t these award shows be counted as campaign contributions?

    Ooooh! A bunch of wise guys in a room with sofas and a keg, coming up with one liners, then when the Oscar are over, cut to the wise guys as they go full Ricky Gervais

    Good News: This exists. Steven Crowder and co. did this on a podcast.

    Bad News: They recorded it in real time which means it’s just shy of four hours. ?

    • #14
    • February 18, 2020, at 10:42 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  15. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I would argue that the single-most influential stereotype-buster in TV history was casting Greg Morris as a computer/tech wizard in Mission Impossible in 1966,

    Seeing the reruns growing up, I thought Greg Morris was the coolest guy on TV. I was probably right. Right actor, right place, ahead of the right time (which is even better).

    • #15
    • February 18, 2020, at 10:46 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Arahant Member

    Lying, Dog-Faced Brony Soldier (View Comment):
    Good News: This exists. Steven Crowder and co. did this on a podcast.

    Link?

    • #16
    • February 18, 2020, at 10:46 AM PST
    • Like
  17. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lying, Dog-Faced Brony Soldier (View Comment):
    Good News: This exists. Steven Crowder and co. did this on a podcast.

    Link?

    https://www.blazetv.com/video/anti-oscars-party-louder-with-crowder

    • #17
    • February 18, 2020, at 10:51 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lying, Dog-Faced Brony Soldier (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    (The dairy farmer was, actually, lovely. She just felt attacked and wanted a moment to respond, since, you know, no one gives rebuttals at the Oscars.)

    Oscar rebuttals would be a terrific idea. Seriously, couldn’t these award shows be counted as campaign contributions?

    Ooooh! A bunch of wise guys in a room with sofas and a keg, coming up with one liners, then when the Oscar are over, cut to the wise guys as they go full Ricky Gervais

    Good News: This exists. Steven Crowder and co. did this on a podcast.

    Bad News: They recorded it in real time which means it’s just shy of four hours. ?

    Crowder is who I would have picked. I’ll give it a listen.

    • #18
    • February 18, 2020, at 12:37 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I find myself unconsciously boycotting a lot of these folks. They’re just insufferable Wokeist fools, so why should I watch their movies?

    It’s not some big campaign. I just see no reason to watch a movie if the star has gone out of his way to be a Leftist nutjob.

    On the bright side, it seems that Phoenix’s complaint about the oppression of cows — seriously, about the oppression of cows — has prompted several young women to protest at a Bernie Sanders rally, of all places. One of them seized the mic, and two others came out topless on stage and poured something on themselves. It was kinda like that weird “performance art” lady who called it “art” to smear chocolate on her naked body.

    The video of the milk protest is NSFW, so I’m not going to link it. I wonder if these young women know that they are making an udderly absurd spectacle of themselves.

    • #19
    • February 18, 2020, at 3:17 PM PST
    • 3 likes