The Oscars promise to be truly unbearable this year, with vomit-inducing levels of sanctimony followed by the usual gibberish from the commentariat. The results and speeches and even clothes will be subject to endless politicised scrutiny, and whatever the film industry does to stay Woke, the Buzzfeed headline will inevitably be ‘and people aren’t happy about it’.
I’m not sure actors really appreciate how their moralising, once simply tedious, is now grotesque; how there’s something almost darkly funny about members of the film industry presenting themselves as an ethical authority on anything, now they’ve been exposed as modern-day Borgias. But even before the Weinstein scandal broke there was something quite sad about how the entertainment industry tried to present itself as a sort of Confessing Church against the Trump presidency, the moral conscience of America, with Robert De Niro, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Miley Cyrus as modern-day Martin Niemöllers.
The thing about the Borgias is that, whatever their shortcomings as people – and admittedly they weren’t perfect – they did at least help produce great art. Hollywood might be forgiven the hypocritical moralising if the quality of filmmaking hadn’t declined sharply since the high point of the 1990s, while in contrast television has entered a Florentine golden age that began with the Sopranos and reached maturity with The Wire and Breaking Bad.
I accept the possibility that my cultural tastes may have frozen in time along with my politics and haircut – apparently this happens around 24 – but 2017 was indeed a terrible year for film, so clearly someone agrees with me. And as the film industry has become less successful at selling cinema tickets, so it has become ever more overtly political, desperately trying to keep up with the Great Awokening, the spiralling competition to appear more in favour of diversity, feminism and other progressive causes.
The one exception to this artistic decline, however, is children’s cinema, with the major studios continuing to produce gem after gem, so much so that I’m rather sad that my own offspring will, in the not too distant future, be too old to take to the flicks. Maybe I’ll just have to start accompanying random kids to my local Picturehouse – society will be okay with that, right?