Daniel W. Drezner

What do the 2011 Oscars tell us about world politics?

What do the 2011 Oscars tell us about world politics?

Compared to the exciting developments in the Middle East, the 2011 Oscars telecast had all the excitement of watching wallpaper paste harden.  To be fair, however, even judged in a vacuum, these Oscars were galactically boring — which is saying something given Melissa Leo’s tres bleu acceptance speech.  The patter was boring, the gowns were boring, and Celine Dion’s braying singing ruined the memorial montage.  I got so bored during the actual telecast that I had to make up a scenario whereby former Oscar hosts started massive protests against the current Oscar regime to maintain any interest in the proceedings. 

[So, why are you blogging about it?–ed.]  To demonstrate my ability to wring world politics insights from even the most mundane of sources, of course!!  And they are:

1)  Last year I noted that films leaning towards security studies trounced the more global political economy-friendly films.  Obviously, The King’s Speech (which is about leadership and great power politics) beating out The Social Network (which is about intellectual property rights and network externalities) for Best Picture is a continuation of that theme.  Still, the overall results were more mixed.  The Social Network did pick up a few Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay, and in the Best Documentary category, Inside Job upset Restrepo — which meant a real-live-honest-to-goodness political scientist now owns an Academy Award.  NOTE:  This doesn’t mean all political scientists are happy about this. 

2)  I’ve been a longtime supporter of drug legalization as a way to eliminate multiple foreign policy headaches — but based on the behavior of many Oscar presenters and winners, I’m now wondering if there should be drug testing before the Academy Awards.   

3)  Here’s a thought — if the Brits keep giving the best acceptance speeches, then maybe the Academy should just outsource the awards hosting duties to them as well?  I mean, after that show, suddenly all the carping about Ricky Gervais seems churlish.  I could see Russell Brand and Helen Mirren doing at least a passable job at it. 

4)  As for the Best Picture Winner, I myself would have preferred The Social Network – but I enjoyed The King’s Speech decently enough despite the massive historical revisionism in the film.  It’s not like The Social Network was a straight re-creation of history either.  If the controversy about historical accuracy prompts a deeper discussion about the period under question, so be it.  And let me stress that this position has nothing to do with the fact that the Official Blog Wife feels about Colin Firth the same way I do about Salma Hayek.

Did I miss anything?