Movies: Straight Outta Compton

I just . . . don't understand why this movie didn't receive more Oscar nominations.

Actually, I do. If the Academy is made up of seventy-something percent old white guys, it's a cinch they get more excited remembering how they blackballed Communists than want to think about L.A. in the 80s and 90s.

The self-congratulatory aspect of the Academy Awards—and the industry in general—leaves a bad taste in my mouth. They're so proud of themselves for what? Making an entirely unnecessary export? I guess they employ a lot of people white men. Good for them, keeping those off the streets.

Anyway. This movie. I know nothing about rap music. I don't listen to it, don't much care for it at all. I mean, at that time I was living in Texas, where most people I knew listened to country music, a few listened to alternative/grunge, and a tinier sliver listened to techno. And I listened to pop and classic rock and Jimmy Buffett. Throughout this movie, my husband kept saying, "Now you must recognize this song!" I didn't. The songs all sounded the same to me, and all sounded a bit like Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away." I'd heard of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube and Suge Knight, but that's about it. Name recognition. Yet despite all this handicap, I still found Straight Outta Compton compelling.

A movie that encourages me to endure rap? Pretty amazing.

More than that, a movie that brings home what it was like to suffer under the racial ire of the L.A. police—something I could never hope to fully understand, but this film comes as close as possible to making me "get it"? That's impressive. (Though I still can't entirely wrap my brain around how they are so violent towards one another. How is that okay?)

The acting here is really good, too. Again, it left me shaking my head that they didn't get any nominations.

I don't know what else to say. It's a fabulous film. Better than Trumbo or The Big Short, in my opinion. Just goes to show, the Academy is . . . I think it's too close to the industry to be able to see the big picture (no pun intended). It's impossible for the Academy to step back and be any kind of objective. And I know this is all subjective—art is subjective—but in the Oscars' case it's too subjective. It's too influenced by its own self-interest. If that makes any sense.

Bottom line is, the Academy Awards don't mean much. Or shouldn't. It's a peer group slapping each other on the back, and we're supposed to believe that who and what wins matters. But it really doesn't. We can look at past winners and see that it doesn't make a bit of difference, and we can look at omissions like Straight Outta Compton and realize that says more than whoever takes home the trophy. It's the equivalent of prom king and queen—those elected (and their best friends) think it's amazing, the rest of us won't care or remember in a few years and will feel sorry and embarrassed for them when they still talk about being prom court whenever we run into them. "In" versus "out" is so high school, yet the Academy perpetuates exactly that. I think it's time we all move on.

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