“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”―Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I didn’t invent the Oscar game. It existed before I came along. I just turned it into a year-round event. Probably that would have happened anyway. The long and short of it is this: The film industry was the Titanic. The Oscars are not the steerage passengers. The Oscars are the ones who got in the lifeboats. The Oscars can exist as long as they find their own niche. Why can’t they, say, have their own streaming channel? Why can’t they be their own HBO Max or maybe fold into TCM? No ratings pressure. Niche audience found and catered to. Done and done.
They will just never be what they once were. Neither will movies. Neither will I. Neither will any of us.
I walk by an elder care residence almost every day. The smokers always gather out there – yes, even at their age. I know them by face, and they know me. We always say hello to each other. Every so often, one of them is just gone. Poof. Others take their place and I start saying hello to them. One in particular was an old man in a wheelchair from New Orleans. He always wore Mardi Gras beads around his neck. He did know me by name and would call me over to talk with him all of the time. I mean, sure, he was probably just staring at my boobs half the time, but I wasn’t going to deny an old man simple pleasures. I never really would have called him a friend until he disappeared. He was my friend, not because he interrogated me and asked me my stance on vaccines and masks but because he saw me as a human being (and a pair of boobs, but you can’t have everything). I actually miss him. Poof.
I always think about the fact that I have two legs and can walk wherever I please, and that I still theoretically have a lot of life left to live. I know one day I’ll be one of them, though. Saying hello to people who go past me, feeling fortunate to have one more day of life, wishing I could still walk around the neighborhood with my own legs. And that thought always leads me back to how lucky we are to have things we mostly don’t think about, like running water. Like shelter. Like freedom of speech.
Life is about change, for those of us lucky enough to live it. Some of the changes I’ve gone through have been well received. Some haven’t. I sometimes think I am hated as much I am loved. If you are young, you don’t yet think that life is so short. If you are old you know just how little time you have left. It goes by so quickly, and the older you get the faster it goes.
There is no going back and changing your past. You can’t really become a worthwhile, interesting, or useful person unless you make a lot of mistakes. You certainly can’t be a great artist. You’ll never be a great writer or journalist or designer, thinker, lover. This seemingly new concept that we all should have been pure from birth and always “right” is ludicrous when you consider that right and wrong is almost always defined by generations that come of age. Unless you are a devoutly orthodox Christian or Jew, wherein the bounds of your moral responsivity is mostly decided for you. Right and wrong is an easy thing to figure out and in most cases there is a path to forgiveness and redemption.
Not so with the new Stasi. No forgiveness allowed! You are a good witch or a bad witch and one social media post or photo or anything people choose to use as “proof” is all it takes to convict you. It might as well be a witch’s tit, people. That doesn’t take the place of actual evidence.
Just like Andy crawls through a tunnel of sewer sludge and comes out the other side under a shower of cleansing rain, so too do the best among us come to realize what that feels like. You will never make a lasting impact on people’s lives unless you’ve been through things that changed your perspective.
In art we can find the answers to the things we struggle with, but only if we allow our artists to tell the truth. If we force them to tell an idealized version of the truth so as not to offend a single person – it is no longer art.
The latest aggression against me, although they are interchangeable at this point. is for my detractors to declare that I do not draw the Trump Line — meaning, to many of the most strident, that I do not treat Trump voters like human garbage. If I vigorously criticize the Left, it’s because I feel they deserve criticism. I refuse to see Trump as the Devil Himself and thus, I am not given over to the same fear and panic that so many of my friends seem to possess. I am not telling them they should not be afraid. But they want me to join them in dehumanizing another group and that is something I’m never going to do. Quick, name a time when that ever worked out. Don’t say the Nazis because the Nazis were the ones doing the dehumanizing. The side that’s doing that is always the wrong side. Always.
I don’t draw the line because, to me, it’s all part of the same hysteria, it’s all part of the same machine. It’s all part of the same mindset, in which we are led to believe that there are good witches and bad witches, and that you are one of the moral arbiters for that. I just don’t go along with that and this is apparently a good reason to yet again threaten my business, my writing job at Netflix, my friendships, the people who work with me.
I believe in basics – due process, innocent until proven guilty, people in glass houses should not throw stones, let he who has never sinned cast the first stone. I’m not religious but I know why that was the moral line and why it’s lasted as long as it has. It runs counter to our nature.
One day all of the madness we’re living through will be over and we will have to live with what we were once like. We leave a trail of that behavior and must face it when everything inevitably flips around. Suddenly the witch hunters will be the ones judged by the future.
Remember, each of us are writing our own stories. We are writing our own futures. If we write it down now and read it back later, maybe we’ll laugh. Our maybe we’ll be embarrassed. Maybe we’ll understand better what it’s like to live through something that didn’t bring out the best in us. Our memories are where we have been. How we choose to remember them will tell us everything we need to know about who we are.
I bring all of this up because it’s Thanksgiving and I have some people to thank. I am lucky that every so often someone writes me a private note and tells me they are sorry that I am being targeted with so much online abuse. “It’s your own fault,} many on Twitter would shriek back. Yes, I know. How dare I have… thoughts. I want to say thank you to all those who reached out to me privately, even if I won’t name them.
I am also lucky that I have an incredibly supportive staff here at AwardsDaily. To one degree or another, all of them disagree with almost everything I say and the way I say it. I have reminded them many times that, because of the climate of fear we’re living through, I wasn’t going to obey – but rather to push back as often as I could. I’ve let them know that this was going to cause me and them grief. I told them I would help them find other jobs or even build them their own websites if they feel don’t want to weather the shit-storms. And every single time I advised them of that, they wrote back with supportive messages and held their ground. That is what you call character.
There’s the esteemed Ryan Adams has been managing health issues for a while now but has always been there to offer his friendship, help, and support. We could not be more opposite on many issues at the moment but he would never prioritize that over his relationships. There’s Clarence Moye, who has somehow hung on, and might be the most humble person I know. And is also the only person I know who can quote Terms of Endearment like I can.
There is our new hire, Mark Johnson who fits right in. He’s such a pro and is someone who has always been nothing but kind, not just to me but to almost everyone — and that isn’t easy to do on Twitter. There is Megan McLachlan who has nothing to gain by hitching her trailer to this truck and yet, here she still is. Joey Moser who seems able to roll with the good, the bad, and the ugly as long as there are corgis. There is my good friend Jalal Haddad who probably has no idea just how much he means to me because he has my back and I know he has my back and there is really no reason for him to offer his support the way he does – but, he just does. That is what you call being made of strong stuff.
And then there is our adjunct professor Marshall Flores who has been coming to this site and contributing probably longer than he’s been alive. I don’t know, what’s the math on that? He’s slogged through the stats with me for years and knows them so well he should write a book (he really should). There is the talented David Phillips who is also someone who disagrees with me frequently. We somehow manage not to fight about it – we just hover in the same space of mutual respect. It always shocks me that we can be civil towards each other when we often see events in completely opposite ways but somehow he isn’t the kind who would ever join in a witch hunt.
We have amazing contributors, like Frank Avella, Ryan C. Showers, Zhuo-Zing Nu, Shadan Larki, Ben Morris, and our long lost friend, Stephen Holt. We still sort of consider Jazz Tangcay one of our staff even if she is now a hotshot over at Variety.
The Awards Daily staff are brave. They take a lot of shit. They have to endure all of the same wild-eyed purity cops without having done anything to deserve it. Let this serve as a thank you to each of them on Thanksgiving.
But when all of this madness collapses like a house of cards, as it has very other time in history when it has reared its ugly head, they will be better able to sleep at night knowing that they never let disagreements get in the way of their humanity. Or to put it another way, “no man is a loser who has friends.”
Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. Thanks for sharing your lives with me. Thanks for sharing your passion for movies and the Oscars with me. Thanks for enduring countless too-long think pieces. Thanks for hanging in there as part the vibrant AwardsDaily community through thick and thin, and rolling with all its notable changes.
Never forget, you can’t get to this — you can’t feel redemption – you can’t understand what life is about unless you crawl through that tunnel and come out the other side. Find your best teachers who will not coddle nor protect you from harm, but rather, will have a lasting impact on your ever-changing life.
And when you understand that life is a series of mistakes and the odd moment of happiness, you will really understand the ending of The Shawshank Redemption:
I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
Happy Thanksgiving, AwardsDaily family. I hope it’s a lovely day for each of you. I hope you will watch lots of good movies. I hope you will be with friends and family, and if not, that you can find some comfort in being apart. I hope.