Saturday, March 25, 2006


Spring is always the busiest time for me. First of all, high school tennis started about a month ago and I am an assistant coach. That means a practice or a match six days a week for the first three weeks. The first Saturday in March we had a varsity only practice. The second Saturday in March we took a day trip to the Tri Cities to play Richland and Southridge (we beat them both). The next Saturday was a day trip to Yakima for the Coke Classic Tournament (we took third). This is the first Saturday in a month I haven't had to work. I work next Saturday because I am the school SAT coordinator, and we have over 200 kids coming to take the test.

Furthermore, we have been shopping for a tent trailer, and we finally found one. We made a trip up to look at it, and we liked it. We took another trip up to buy it, but found the sink was leaking. After the leak was fixed, we took another trip up to bring it home, but found we had the wrong adapter for the taillights. Then, finally, on Thursday, we picked it up and brought it home. We will have a lot of fun with it this summer. The girls wanted to sleep in it last night, but there was too much rain.

Add to this the fact that I have taught a couple of SAT workshops, and I have been teaching full time, worrying about the upcoming AP test (20 school days away), and being a dad while my wife works evenings, I have had precious little time to do much leisure activities.

So, that's my excuse for not posting more often. Thanks for visiting, and I look forward to still hearing from you.

Also, my post about "Crash" has generated a number of comments, and the most recent one is interesting to me. The poster noted that she thought Crash was a good movie, and that subtlety was not necessary in a film. She also noted that the film tackled the issue of racism, which is still alive and well.

While I agree on the second claim, that racism still exists, I have to disagree with the first claim. If a film is going to tackle an issue, it should explore its complexity. After all, I believe in a hierarchy of media. For instance, I expect children's television shows to lack subtlety. I expect adult TV shows to have a little more subtlety. I expect cable series to explore issues in greater complexity, and I expect films to make the attempt to tell us something we don't already know in a way we haven't already been told. If Sesame Street tackles race, I expect their treatment of it to lack subtlety. If Law and Order tackles race, I expect it to be a little more subtle. If The Shield tackles race, I expect it to be more subtle still. If a film tackles race, I expect it to tackle it with subtlety and complexity. By complexity, I don't mean complexity of plot. Heck, James Bond films have complex plots. I am talking about complexity of ideas and themes. I think many people mistake the first complexity for the second. If racism is a problem that has existed since our country's inception, then the problem is complex. So I would expect an Oscar-winning film to explore that complexity rather than to smooth it over. Crash would have been a good television movie. It should have won an Emmy, not an Oscar.

Crash simply points out the Academy's penchant for awarding the Oscar to films that allow the voters to pat themselves on the back for their social conscience. They vote for the films that conform to their beliefs, not to the ones that are the most artistic or complex. Show me an Oscar-winning film that didn't end with the moral tied up in a little bow. That's why Scorcese has still never won an Oscar.


Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head, Oscar winning movies sans morals tied up in a little bow:

Unforgiven 1992
Silence of the lambs 1991
The Last Emperor 1987
Amadeus 1984
The Deer Hunter 1978
Annie Hall 1977
The Sting 1973
Midnight Cowboy 1969
In the Heat of the Night 1967
On the Waterfront 1954

Eric, you are right, but there are some best pics out of the past that are a little more subtle and ambigious about the moral content of the main characters.


Eric said...

Point well taken. But when I talk about The Academy, I am talking about now. There was a time when film art mattered to the Academy, and that time is past.

Let's go back in time, shall we?
2004--Million Dollar Baby
2003--Lord of the Rings
2001--A Beautiful Mind
1999--American Beauty
1998--Shakespeare in Love
1996--The English Patient
1994--Forrest Gump
1993--Schindler's List

We have to wade through all of these films to get to the last Best Picture to have any sublety, complexity or ambiguity. Then, skip Unforgiven, and we get to

1990--Dances With Wolves
1989--Driving Miss Daisy
1988--Rain Man

Your exceptions seem to prove the rule. Almost every one of the films mentioned above could have their moral summed up in a sentence. Racism is bad (Crash, Dances with Wolves, Driving Miss Daisy); the handicapped are just like you and me--maybe better! (Forrest Gump, Rain Man); true love never get the picture. Great, subtle, complex films like "Do the Right Thing" or "Crimes and Misdemeanors" don't even get nominated in 1987, while "The Last Emperor" takes the prize.