First They Came for The Oscars

The beautiful and talented Mrs Wright holds forth on the controversy re the Hugo Award.

With the Hugo Nominations being announced tomorrow, the topic of what is right or wrong with the award is quite popular right now.

I am going to take a step away from most of the discussion on this topic and say that I do not believe the issue is political.

Sure, at the moment, one group is on one side of the political spectrum and the other is on the other, but that is not the issue that is actually before us.

The issue is: Insular vs. Popular

Let me tell you a little about my background and why I believe this.

When I was young, I worked for my father. My father distributed movies to television. He would find public domain movies with expired copyrights (or no copyright, the laws were different then), find rental companies (reel–this was before tape) that had copies, and make these copies available to television stations to use for mid-afternoon and late night filler.

Doesn’t sound like much, but he put two kids through expensive colleges on that work.

My job, among other things, was to write catalogues. We did our catalogues along different themes: women’s movies, cowboy movies, scary movies, and—most importantly—Academy Award Winners.

Have you ever read the list of Oscar nominees for 1939? This was before they limited the number of nominations to five (which they seem to have moved away from again). It read:

  •           Gone With the Wind
  •           Dark Victory
  •           Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  •            Love Affair
  •           Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  •           Ninotchka
  •           Of Mice and Men
  •           Stagecoach
  •           The Wizard of Oz
  •           Wuthering Heights

Can you imagine even half of those movies getting a nomination today? Do you think Gone With the Wind would still win? Would Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or even The Wizard of Oz still be listed?

Let me put this very clearly: Had this been 1939, everyone’s favorite movie of 2014 would have at least received a nomination, if not actually won—instead of receiving nominations for things like Make-Up and Visual Effects and losing to a move called Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)—which I had never heard of until I looked it up. (This does not mean it is not a good movie…but it sure as Sundays means it’s not a popular movie.)

I am speaking, of course, of Guardians of the Galaxy.

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