Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Pick for the Academy Award Would Be...

I'm not a big cinephile, and I haven't been keeping up with the Oscar nominations beyond listening to the coverage on the radio news. That being said, as a nerd, my preffered 'best picture' winner would be Hidden Figures, a dramatized account of the work of the African-American women who worked as 'computers' for NASA in the 1960s. As I have indicated before, I am a firm believer in the importance of having women and people of color working in STEM fields.

The achievements of women and minorities in American history have largely been ignored or suppressed by the white, male dominance structure, to the extent that there is still a lot of resistance from certain quarters to the celebration of Black History Month. The recognition of the NASA computers who helped to put John Glenn in orbit and get him back down in one piece, despite their need to navigate the pitfalls of the segregated South, is merely one corrective in the historical narrative, though it's good to see Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughn, and their colleagues finally receive the accolades due to them.

The general buzz seems to be that the musical La La Land will win best picture, largely because it is a callback to the old Hollywood musicals of yore (I need to use this word more often), but I'd rather see a celebration of women, people of color, and technical brilliance than some LA navel-gazing. I've heard that this year's Oscars have been characterized by expressions of resistance to Trump, what better rebuke would there be than to celebrate a crew of genius black women who worked for the government to achieve something amazing? Besides, it would be a good way for the film industry to put that 'Oscars so white' controversy to rest.

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