2015 Oscars were a flop, shows need for progress

(Originally printed Feb. 24 2015 in the Independent Florida Alligator opinions section)

Who else watched Neil Patrick Harris flaunt himself live on TV at the 2015 Oscars?

Well, I did. I never thought I would write that sentence. It just goes to show you that life, and the Oscars, are full of surprises.

Neil Patrick Harris in tighty whities aside, I thought the Oscars were a bit of a flop. Sure, it was awesome to see the all the stars; Lady Gaga received a standing ovation for her performance, and Julie Andrews was stunning, but there were also some pretty darn awkward moments.

We all know the big winners, and most of them were well-deserved: “Birdman” won Best Picture, Julianne Moore’s Oscar for Best Actress in “Still Alice” was uncontested, and personally, I’m hella pleased that “Big Hero 6” took home Best Animated Feature Film.

But then there was Neil Patrick Harris. I usually love him and the cute pictures he posts of his family on Instagram, but he was just trying too hard this weekend. Ellen DeGeneres left some pretty big shoes to fill as host, and Harris wasn’t quite up to size. The stunt with his Oscar predictions — actual events during the show — locked in a briefcase and guarded by Octavia Spencer was annoying until the very end of the night, when it became eerily accurate — but still mostly annoying.  Most of the opening number was such a chipper, happy-go-lucky performance it made my teeth hurt just by watching it.

All in all, the best one-liner from Harris was his opening joke: “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest.” Ouch. Harris’ statement was a well-placed dart at the academy for their frankly ridiculous exclusion of any people of color in the line-up for the Oscars this year. Although they faced criticism for this from multiple platforms, the academy still refused to nominate any women or people of color for awards in any of the major categories. For Pete’s sake, “Selma” was robbed, OK?

The academy has had its problems with racism and sexism before and probably will in the future, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be upset. It’s a message for us to keep working toward something…

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