"History Has Its Eyes On You" - Thoughts on the 2017 Oscar Awards
Last night two incredible things happened! (which I could foresee happening thus why I’m writing my blog on a Monday instead of a Sunday.)
The first was a more personal matter: I finally listened to the musical Hamilton for the first time from start to finish. All I can say is…. ohhhh damn. That was incredible.
Although Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda did not receive his fourth puzzle piece to the sought-after E.G.O.T. (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), I cheered him on yesterday evening during the 89th Annual Academy Awards last evening. He’s been someone I’ve looked up to immensely just within the last six months upon learning who he is. I wasn’t even aware that a songwriter/composer had the capacity to make it to Broadway multiple times and then actually be the lead role in their Tony Award winning musical. He is quite literally my dreams in the flesh.
Then of course last night, the greatest debacle in Oscar history occurred. If you’ve been living under a rock but somehow stumbled upon my blog and don’t know what occurred at this year’s Oscars, here’s what happened.
The film, La La Land was announced as the Best Picture winner and as they are all sharing their congratulations and thanks with each other on stage and halfway through their speeches, it is messily revealed that Moonlight actually won Best Picture. There was a moment of disbelief, a few more moments of utter shock, and then a huge round of applause for the actual winner.
“History Has Its Eyes On You”.
What a daunting statement! But last night, all eyes went to the stage as the producers for La La Land insisted that the Moonlight team come to the front to accept their award. The card was even snatched out of hand and shown to the world by Jordan Horowitz:
“This is not a joke”.
Then he said something quite remarkable and lovely:
“I’m going to be really thrilled to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight’”.
As Horowitz hugged the members from the Moonlight team as they entered the stage, Twitter was already aflame with praise for him, and the ecstatic disbelief and happiness that Moonlight was the real winner last night. Moonlight was a film that needed to win: an independently produced project about a poor, black, gay man from Miami. Progress has never been clean, but nevertheless it’s happening, and I celebrated along with my artistic community last night.
As I thought over the ceremony’s strange and awkward ending, I reminded myself that I would not have been crushed to see La La Land take the big prize; after all, that movie changed my direction and my life just two short months ago.
As a white female trying to make it in the world of entertainment while working at a coffee shop and trying to figure out who’s eyes to get in front of for a chance at success, La La Land affected me profoundly. It wasn’t the lovely production design and the masterful camera work or how Ryan Gosling’s character was just like my old school buddies or the fact that their love life didn’t pan out as expected; it was the story of a girl who I could relate to in almost every way overcoming her obstacles and achieving her dreams that made me love the movie so much. This film is why I quite my job at retail to pursue music full time!
But this story has been told and re-told hundreds of times. Emma won for best actress for her portrayal of this character. There are people all over the country who found hope and joy in this film, but there are thousand’s more who’s voice has not been heard yet.
Films like Moonlight and Fences and Hidden Figures, (and more nominated last night,) are testaments to the importance of sharing new stories. Now those who felt that they were alone and misunderstood can look on the screen and see someone who they can relate to because that person struggles in a similar way or looks like them. That is something to celebrate!
As I look as this picture of La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz embracing Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, I am moved to tears. This moment could have been far more awkward and uncomfortable and maddening, and even though this was not the happy win that Moonlight deserved, I can’t help feeling proud that it was exchanged so gracefully between these two humans. At the end of the day, we are all human and we are all fighting in this world together. Filmmakers tell stories, and when the stories are infused with love and passion and we can celebrate each other’s storytelling, that is truly a beautiful thing.
Today, I’ve got all of the lyrics from Hamilton running through my head and I keep repeating the lyric “not going to give up my shot”. I have so much work ahead of me to get to that Oscars stage, but damn do I want it more than anything. As I progress, I hope to work with the same hunger for success as Alexander Hamilton or Lin-Manuel Miranda; writing and working like I’m running out of time. If a moment comes where perhaps I’m on that stage accepting an award, or perhaps I lose to someone more deserving of it, I hope to remember that history has it’s eyes on me too, and that the way I choose to act and serve the artistic community will be remembered.
Picture I was looking at with accompanying article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/02/27/la-la-land-producer-jordan-horowitz-is-the-truth-teller-we-need-right-now/?utm_term=.8a097db04e9d
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