Oscars 2017: PR, Politics and Pasquinade

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Pasquinade, in case you are wondering, is an Ancient Roman word meaning lampoon in a public place where the culprit is anonymous, which to me very much suits the way this year’s Oscars went down.

When the wrong ‘ Best Picture’ was announced, I found it hilarious. Warren Beatty’s confused face. The fact that half of La La Land’s producers had already made their speeches. The sudden disappointment in the cast’s faces. You couldn’t write it.

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What makes it even funnier, however, is the fact that this Oscars was billed as being one of the most political ever, and (by cynics like myself), the most boring ever. This certainly initially appeared to be the case, with most of host Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes being politically motivated and the usual use of acceptance speeches as soapboxes for stars to voice their political opinions, all of which were obviously anti-Trump.

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Now, I am by no means a fan of Trump’s current legislation, and think it’s fine to be able to criticize. Free speech is important. But I can’t help but find it a bit odd from a PR perspective. Half the American population voted for Trump. Everyone likes movies. More or less. So these celebrities are effectively insulting their clientele when they accept their awards with these speeches. And also perhaps fueling the very divisive nation they claim a Trump presidency is creating?

I don’t know whether that’s a good idea if they want to keep their fans. I mean, I personally wouldn’t immediately stop watching someone’s films or boycott a ceremony because of the political opinions of some of the participants, but I’m not Donald Trump. He immediately denounced Meryl Streep as ‘overrated’ after her critical Golden Globes speech and switched his TV off during the Oscars. And this is the kind of attitude I expect a lot of Trump supporters might show.

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But perhaps that’s an unfair statement. Trump voters came from all different backgrounds and reasons (see election article), many of whom wouldn’t be put off by actors and their awards ceremony soapboxes. What I find ironic, though, is that La La Land, this year’s hot tipped winner, is a film from a white perspective in the jazz scene, with a lot of mansplaining and a fairly clean cut script and traditional girl-boy romance story. A lot of people, who liked Trump, I would say, given their pick of the years’ films, would particularly enjoy this one. Yet everyone who was all about anti-Trump was all about La La Land.

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It all came together hilariously when the best picture gaffe happened. The real winner, moonlight, about a gay black man (a seemingly suitable political best picture choice – though I haven’t seen it so I can’t really comment), was left a little in La La Land’s shadow. There was a general sort of “oh” feeling, I found. But surely this is the film that everyone wanted to win? As someone on Facebook humorously put it, ‘La La Land won the popular vote, but Moonlight won the Electoral College.’ Lampoonery at its best

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There is hope. I greatly admired the gentlemanly way in which La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz passed the award on to Moonlight. That is the kind of attitude that I like and that is the kind of person who really appeals to his clientele. Food for thought.

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