How aging Academy members could affect this year's awards races.
My excellent Golden Globes source says Harvey Weinstein furiously stormed out of the Globes party after his movie, The King's Speech, lost the Best Drama award to The Social Network. He should have won that: The international press is notoriously oldish and obviously foreign. What should they care about The Social Network, a super hip American story if there ever was one? But from what I hear, the irony was that the oldies but goodies at the Globes wanted to be groovy and show how wired and un-foreign they were. So now for the Oscars Harvey is assiduously working the old people, of which, I hear, there are plenty in the Academy.
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There are many lenses through which we can see the Best Picture race, but I choose the generational story exemplified by the aging, enigmatic Globes voters. The Academy is a tricky group. They are perverse, politically left wing, and sentimental. They don't like to be predicted by the press or told whom they are going to vote for. Think Crash, which won Best Picture in 2006 over Brokeback Mountain. But sometimes, as with any impressionable voting group, Academy members can be manipulated by momentum. Is this a momentum year or a split-vote year, like with Crash? Last year the question was: Was it a political-indie-upstart Hurt Locker year or an industry-influenced Avatar year? And we saw how that went. My thought is that the Academy is very much a mixed-up electorate right now, and the issue is age.
The Social Network makes the elderly in the Academy anxious for several reasons: a.) I don't know how to use a computer. b.) Those little shits. Pissers like that passed on my last screenplay, movie, role, fill in the blank. c.) This generation thinks they own the world.
And the people who think this way are not working as much as the ones who get the Net, who by and large aren't getting into the Academy so easily these days—there are more old folks in the Academy than hipsters. (It requires four sole credit movies and three recommendations from members, then approval from a committee that likes to meet in private exercising vetoes like an exclusive co-op in Manhattan.) But those younger guys are the ones who are working, and so you see the tension. And the old guys can be politicked. They love to get together, and they have plenty of time for the free dinners and lovely events sponsored by publicists of movies stars or their friends of friends, and the once—but now never—neglected motion picture old age home. I assume that's where you'll find someone working The King's Speech. I don't know for sure. It's an educated guess.
This is mirrored in the oddly stubborn and almost grumpy anti-Facebook sentiment we see in the otherwise brilliant print boomers like Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker and Frank Rich in the New York Times. Both have said that what went on in Iran (Rich amazingly added Egypt) had nothing to do with the Internet or Facebook. I am stunned by this, as we see the protesters themselves making heroes out of the Google hackers, and painting signs of thanks to Facebook. Why the resistance? Does it somehow diminish the power of their medium? (Duh.) Or make them or their/our generation less relevant? (Our industry has its own critical economic fears of the Net driven by piracy, and is not in favor of net neutrality.)
Am I stretching dangerously, or could The King's Speech subtly use the older generation's hostility to the Net as a kind of backlash against The Social Network? Can you cater to those who can't use email, like my dad, who when I try to tell him he can get thousands of pictures of his family if he took only one simple lesson looks at me as though I were asking him to fly to the moon?
Can one harvest this antipathy to start a revolution that amounts to a King's Speech voting bloc? Is there some call being shouted from the rooftops for old-fashioned movies? Old people are sure speaking at the box office right now. They want more movies. And they have them in The Kings Speech, The Fighter, True Grit, and for some, (the dirty old man contingent?) the hot, hot Black Swan—all bona fide hits.