Patton Oswalt is a smart, funny, and opinionated fellow, so it’s no wonder why people turn their lonely eyes to him (and the twitter account that he occasionally uses like a fantastic mallet) for his insights on pop culture. Dude gives good quote, and that was proven once again as Oswalt spoke at length to Vulture about the Selma Oscar snub and the racist response to John Boyega’s donning of a storm trooper costume in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.
Here are his Selma thoughts:
“The thing about Selma that bothers me: It’s just logic. It goes beyond race. So it’s a best movie nominee, and yet none of the performances, none of the writing, none of the directing, none of the cinematography — none of them did an Oscar-worthy job, but the movie is Oscar-worthy. That doesn’t make sense. It’s a little alarming when you don’t have a year in movies that celebrates what a fantastic year of films it really was. I wish it had gotten more, especially performance-wise. David Oyelowo lost the director of the movie partway into it [Lee Daniels was originally attached in 2010, but eventually left the project], so on top of having to carry a movie as Martin Luther King Jr., he was also basically keeping the movie afloat. It’s insane the fact that we got the performance that we got out of him, with all the other pressure on that guy’s back. And then in the same year, he’s in A Most Violent Year, playing the complete opposite of what he did in Selma — he’s a cop, but he’s very, very controlled, and focused, and very un–Martin Luther King–like. What more could he have done, acting-range-wise?”
On the plus side, Oswalt also noted that the “arguments” about snubs like this can signal boost these films, and I’d add that it can also increase people’s awareness of David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay’s skills as well. An Oscar nomination is an amazing accomplishment, but a thousand hot takes on why you’re an amazing actor or director might actually have a greater reach.
And speaking of hot-button race-based issues, I’ll spare you my lengthy hot take on why racially motivated reactions to Michael B. Jordan’s casting in The Fantastic Four and John Boyega’s appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are distressing, but Oswalt has noticed the trend as well and he seems to be annoyed by it — particularly with regard to Star Wars:
“Oh, that’s depressing, Jesus Christ. Star Wars, half the movie is aliens and robots, and a black guy is what set people off? I love how they’re reacting as if this is a classic novel that’s being cast — ‘I can’t believe they booked James Earl Jones to play Holden Caulfield.’ But this is a script that no one has read, so what the f*ck are they talking about? If everyone in the original Star Wars had been black, it still would have been a goddamn blockbuster because the movie would have still been awesome. If Star Wars had been Richard Pryor and Cicely Tyson, people still would have gone, ‘This movie’s f*cking great!’”
That movie would have been f*cking great, especially if Pryor had played Han Solo, but that’s not the point. The point is that when fan entitlement, an aversion to change, and racist inclinations mix, the result is an ugly bastard of an opinion that diminishes the whole of fandom even though it’s a small sample of the gallery. Like Oswalt said, “Depressing,” but again, it’s a small sample and not actually representative of the typical fan.