Patricia Arquette, Sean Penn, and The Stale, Played-Out Politics of the Oscars

(Photocredit: left, Getty Images, right, Kevin Winter/Jason Merritt/Christopher Polk/Getty Immages)

(Photocredit: left, Getty Images, right, Kevin Winter/Jason Merritt/Christopher Polk/Getty Immages)

By now, the Twitterverse has gone through its own Big Bang over “Boyhood” starlet Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech about women and pay equity. After giving the typical award platitudes to her agent and make up artist went on to say this:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

As I went on to say in a Facebook post today, this devotion by pundits to the financial livelihoods of extremely well paid female artistans, business execs, media personalities, and other handsomely paid professions amounts to what I have dubbed, “corporate feminism.” Despite the fact that they’re are well established that they’re are well-established economic facts that explain the (ever-narrowing) pay gap between men and women that have absolutely nothing to do with institutional discrimination or any other simplistic dogma, should the amount of media time devoted to how much Patricia Arquette or Meryl Streep occupy more time than on the low wage waitress or cashier?

Another Oscar flub was Sean Penn’s joke about Best Director winner of the movie “Birdman,”Alejandro González Iñárritu. After opening the golden envelope, the “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” star quipped “who gave this son of a bitch a green card?,” referring to Mexican-born Iñárritu. Naturally, Twitter, being the bastion of irony and general joke-getting as it is, had a hissy-fit that rivals that of a chastised prom queen on MTV’s “My Sweet 16.” The Huffington Post, always a reliable outpost of snobbish indignation, wrote shortly after how that so-so joke may have gone so far as to “ruin the Oscars.” Keep in mind, as was acknowledged in the ceremony last night, the 1968 Oscars were cancelled out of respect to recent assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., four days earlier. That ruined the Oscars.

Back to Penn, as Reason Magazine’s Nick Gillespie opined, commenting on the complaint that they’re were plenty of British and Australian nominees in the audiences that he could have used that joke on, insinuating a racial animus on Penn’s part, that the fact that he used it on a Mexican Oscar winner was the punchline, and the intended target was the U.S. government’s racialist immigration policy that disproportionally burdens migrants from black and brown countries. Says Gillespie:

“But that’s the joke, isn’t it? That for no good reason Mexicans and other Latinos are singled out for anti-immigrant sentiments in a way that other, more “acceptable” ethnicities are not? “The problem w Sean Penn’s statement is that it limits what #Latinosare entitled to,” tweeted Entertainment Weekly‘s Nina Terrero, “certainly nothing which belongs to whites.” The joke may not be funny, but it’s clearly an attempt to undermine stereotypes and exclusion, not reinforce it.”

What the social media public exposes in it’s drone-like praise of Arquette and equally robotic condemnation of Penn is that that people are increasingly feeling the need to express their opinions in all matter of ways that merely massage the ego, rather than informing the consumer of anything meaningful.     


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