Best actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis hits the red carpet before the 85th Academy Awards. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
Something notably different about this year’s Oscars was that six student filmmakers—not models—carried the statuettes to celebrity presenters. That’s because the Oscars did a search last year in which it asked students to create short, half-minute videos that answered one simple question, “How will you contribute to the future of movies?”
The six winners included three women, and all the winners are representative of a changing demographic: four are clearly students of color. One student, Hearin Ko, won a coveted spot by stating that she thinks “the film industry is ready for the next Asian film director,” adding that she wants to solidify magical realism as a recognized film genre. Fittingly, Ang Lee, who hails form Taiwan, won his second Oscar last night for Best Director for Life of Pi—a work that could qualify as magical realism.
But most of last night’s Oscars magic stopped there, and was instead a lengthy celebration of xenophobia and misogyny.
Host Seth MacFarlane’s tirade against people of color and women started early with cheap shots against Don Cheadle and Rihanna. But soon, William Shatner, as Captain Kirk on the big screen, warned MacFarlane against “destroying the academy awards.”
The Captain announced that he was communicating from the twenty-third century—indicating a deep investment in hoping that white men will still be playing starring roles as intervening saviors two centuries from now. What made Captain Kirk’s appearance especially offensive was that it was insidiously shrouded as an attempt to meddle in order to stop MacFarlane from offending countless people. Instead, the Captain used this opportunity as an introduction to a profoundly misogynist song titled “We Saw Your Boobs.”
The song ended with an unnecessary backup from The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. MacFarlane appeared compelled to explain that he’s not a member of the chorus—but Captain Kirk explained that in 2015, MacFarlane would, indeed, join the chorus. This indication that MacFarlane will come out of the closet annoyingly yielded a long laugh from the audience.
Throughout the night, the audience appeared more offended by a joke about Abraham Lincoln’s killer 150 years ago than by MacFarlane’s racist, sexist and homophobic attacks against living people today. The remainder of the show remained stable ground for MacFarlane’s lazy hatred.