But, but but... this issue with the visual affects artists and the protest that happened during the Oscars which I was totally unaware of until after the fact keeps lingering in my mind. And so, I want to discuss this a little but more. Never fear; you'll be getting two blog posts for the price of one today (well, tonight and tomorrow) as I promised to share the one about fandom identification. I'd apologize for spamming you with all these posts, but honestly I'm kind of enjoying it - and it makes up for the serious down-time I had over the past two months.
If you're unfamiliar with the visual effects situation, I recommend this blog as I did in a previous post. There are also two very good post on Tumblr about the issue: this one and this one (both links lead to the repostings on my blog, not the Tumblrs they came from). In brief, Rhythm and Hue, a prominent visual effects company that worked on Life of Pi recently went bankrupt, leaving their employees high and dry. You will notice in the second Tumblr post about this that someone mentions Samuel L. Jackson's rude behavior about this situation. This confused me at first and the realization of what it might imply hit me like a ton of bricks.
Not this time, ladies and gentlemen. Not this time. Knowing what I know now about the visual effects issues and, with Life of Pi winning and having the two acceptors be unable to finish their speeches due to the orchestra prematurely cutting them off, I don't think this was supposed to happen. This was not Robert Downey Jr. acting like Tony Stark or Samuel L. Jackson acting like Nick Fury. Maybe they were in character the entire time, but what happened wasn't planned. I'm not Robert Downey Jr., and I wasn't there and I don't know exactly what was going on onstage. But knowing what little I know about Downey Jr., he seems like the sort of guy who would be pissed about these visual artists not getting paid and then getting utterly silenced and overlooked by the Academy. So if he had the opportunity to try and bring attention to the situation and do it through the voice of Tony Stark (sort of), do you think he'd do it? Abso-fucking-lutely. In other words, I think Downey Jr. was trying to bring up the issue with the visual artists and Jackson was trying to shut him down.
Did I ever mention that I love Robert Downey Jr.? Like a lot?
Honestly, I'm pretty angry about this. Sure, the hosting situation and the crass jokes in this year's Oscars made me upset, but it was nothing new. I sort of expected it from McFarlane anyway. I was not expecting this. I was not expecting a serious issue to get utterly ignored by... well, pretty much everything but the internet (God bless you, internet). I can't say I'm surprised (the Academy had overlooked many, many things - and people - before), but I still didn't expect this. We had the First Lady of the United States present the award for Best Picture (read: politics, whether good or bad, you decide) but we can't have a conversation onstage about these artists who aren't getting paid because, "Oh no, that might be political and ruin the mood?" Okay, yes, First Lady appearing versus conversation about the Hollywood system, two separate things, I get it. You don't want to be a buzzkill at an awards ceremony in which you hand out little golden men by mentioning a whole bunch of people are unemployed. Right...
I feel like there is a lot of snark in this post. No, let me rephrase that - there is a lot of snark in this post. I'm not going to apologize for this. I am really upset because it hits close to home. I know several filmmakers and I know people who are interested in video game design and I know people who could be visual effects artists some day. This simply isn't fair. It's just not. I have many issues with Hollywood, despite my love for it anyway, but this is the whole system at one of its biggest lows. It can show the glamor and the splendor all it wants, but we have to know better; it isn't all like that underneath. Visual effects take more than computers to do; it takes highly skilled, highly trained artists. And without them, our films would not be what they are. Filmmaking is more than actors, producers, directors, and screenwriters, and while I'm not always the best at expressing and recognizing this, I do know it. Now I can only hope that more people come to recognize and appreciate these amazing people who "create worlds" (Robert Downey Jr.'s words, not mine).
If you want to keep updated on this issue and show your support, check out VFX Solidarity International; they're on Facebook and on Twitter. In the posts to come, I'll be talking more fandoms getting involved in in social issues and activism. I'd like to be a bigger part of that myself, so I thought I'd start here. Here's for hoping this is a step in the right direction.