Entry 199: And the Award for the Dumbest Controversies Goes To…

Well, it’s Academy Awards® season, the lead-up to the one night of the year when people who have no interest in sports can participate in a gambling pool.

Yes, on February 24th small statues named Oscar® will be given to men and women who will, the next morning, have their evening wear scrutinized on all 378 television networks, while Web sites rewatch the ceremonies frame by frame looking for “nip slips.”

An interesting piece of trivia here: Do you know why the statues are named “Oscar?” I bet you don’t, because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t either. In what may be the world’s lamest attempt at creating a mythology, the Academy tells us that…

“While the origins of the moniker aren’t clear, a popular story has it that upon seeing the trophy for the first time, Academy librarian (and eventual executive director) Margaret Herrick remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar.”

CT OSCAR3202.jpgSeriously? That’s the best you can do to explain the name of your own icon?  How could you not know this…or at least invent something more interesting?  Besides–have you seen the statue? What the heck must her Uncle Oscar have looked like?  The only way this story is believable is if Uncle Oscar was actually C3PO.

c3po-150x150[1]Anyway, I don’t want to talk about the ceremonies. I want to talk about the controversies surrounding two of the Best Picture nominees.

First up is Zero Dark Thirty, which has been cruelly admonished by the likes of Ed Asner and Martin Sheen for its “glorification” of torture. Well, yes, the movie has some brutal torture scenes.  However, depicting torture is not the same as glorifying it. For better or worse, right or wrong, it happened, and the film purports to be based on events that happened. To say the movie glorifies torture would be like saying that showing Africans brought over on a ship to become slaves glorifies slavery. Isn’t that right, Ed Asner, Ed Asner Roots[1]portrayer of a slave ship captain in Roots? And as for Martin Sheen–anyone responsible for subjecting the world to Charlie Sheen cannot complain about torture.

Speaking of slaves, that brings me to the second controversy, about Django Unchained. (Great segue, right?) The discussion here isn’t so much about the topics you’d expect, like the use of extreme violence, the depiction of slavery, or the fact that the film was created by a clearly deranged but very talented white guy.

No–the bickering i0118-django-toys-3[1]n this case is about the action figures.

I didn’t know there were Django action figures, did you?  Did you even imagine someone would manufacture Django action figures? Doesn’t any thought you might have about Django action figures start with “What would possess a company to…?”

Well, according to the studio

“Action figures have been created for all of Quentin (Tarantino)’s films including Inglourious Basterds, and as a matter of course produced them for Django Unchained as well. They were meant to be collectibles for people 17 years and older, which is the audience for the film.”

In other words, these toys are not really meant to be played with by children. They are meant to be kept “Mint in Box” by adults and eventually resold on eBay.

In case you’re wondering why the studio felt compelled to issue the statement above, it was part of a longer statement announcing the discontinuation of the toys shortly after advocacy groups like Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and Project Islamic Hope spoke out against the figurines.

This seems like a good time to remind everyone that, while Django Unchained is about the evils of slavery, Inglourious Basterds was about the evils of Nazis. So basically, what is being said here is that Nazi dolls were okay, but slave dolls are not.

Can we have some consistency here, folks? Either they were both in poor taste or neitherINGLOURIOUS BASTERDS 001[1] of them was. I vote for neither, because they are neither slave action figures nor Nazi action figures. They are essentially Quentin Tarantino action figures, collectibles to commemorate the characters in his films. Nothing more, nothing less.

But here’s the thing–and I think it may be the very definition of irony. Because the toys have been discontinued, the prices for them have skyrocketed, and they are approaching $1000. Which means that it will soon cost you more money to buy a Broomhilda slave action figure than it would have cost to purchase the actual Broomhilda.

See you soon.

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