All the buzz at the vegan juice bars this week is about how 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture at the Oscars, despite at least two Academy voters admitting they didn’t even watch the film. They voted for it because it just felt right. Nothing shocking really, since most people applauding this film have never seen it either. Movies about the Holocaust, The AIDS, and racism have been certain statue winners for decades now. You make a film about gay black Jews in Dachau trying desperately to smuggle in their AZT and you can start clearing space on your mantle. Even the costume designers are walking home with a trophy. While some people might take offense at the Academy members turing their votes into pure political messages, I think it’s hard to underestimate just how 12 Years a Slave has fundamentally changed the world:
“I think the African American community is glad the film was chosen as best picture because that is a validation of African American history and the pain and suffering within that history, and the survival of that history. In that way, it does help to heal.” — UCLA African-American studies professor, Brenda Stevenson
Tortured black slaves could probably only dream of a day that their story would be told in a Brad Pitt flick and win a jerry-rigged election based on white guilt. Short of reparations and school namings in the crappy parts of town, Academy Awards have to be the closest thing we all can do to make right what somebody you don’t know’s great-great-great-great grandparents did to get their cotton picked. Sure, we could focus on the brutalities and atrocities taking place in 2014, but only by reaching back to the 19th century can we win Best Picture. That other crap has to settle for Documentary Short.