Okay. As a huge Michael Jackson fan I did not want to watch Leaving Neverland, the HBO documentary detailing MJ during the height of his stardom and his relationship with two boys, aged 7 and 10 (now in their 30s), and their story of how MJ sexually abused them. I mean, I was always on the fence with MJ's guilt. I’m sure that over the years, I defended him in conversations, even though I had my doubt.
I grew up in the 80’s and MJ was THE super star of my generation. Everyone loved him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there was always a kid or two that was like, “I hate Michael Jackson” but, whatever. No they didn't.
In fact, one of the hardest decisions my 9 year old self ever had to make was this: It was Friday night and there were two things on TV at the same time that I desperately needed to watch.
The first: Doctor Who: The Key to Time Part (something) Dude, you may not care about Doctor Who but for me, as a nine year old kid - Doctor Who was the everything! I can’t remember exactly which episode of Key to Time was going to be on, but I know that it aired at 10pm and went until midnight. On Friday.
The second: Friday Night Videos. Which, from memory was on from 10:30 to 11:30pm. And, you know what video was going to be the featured? Thriller! For the first time, ever!
OMG! What to watch. What to do? What to watch! Doctor Who or Thriller? Thriller or Doctor Who?
I watched Doctor Who. Which, come Monday morning at school, turned out to be huge mistake because everyone else had seen Thriller and I was suddenly the uncool kid, and the only kid in class - who had not seen it. Which, is a big deal when you’re nine.
Moving forward, personally, I think Bad is actually a more consistent album than Thriller, and Smooth Criminal is the greatest dance video ever produced and probably my favorite MJ song. I bought MJ’s early 90s album, Dangerous, but by then the magic was fading. I never bought HIStory and never even heard much of his music after that because by then we were neck deep in “Wacko Jacko” stories and abuse allegation trials. And, even if their wasn’t actual abuse, which is what I believed at the time - Jackson was f**king weird, man! He did himself no favors by … ummm … admitting to sleeping in the same bed with lots of children. For many years. At his private ranch. While the parents of the kids where at a completely separate part of the ranch. And MJ had alarms on his doors & hallways so no one would be able to sneak up on his bedroom unnoticed - where he was alone with the children. In bed. But, um, nothing happened (says Jackson.)
And a lot of us … kind of believed it. I mean, the idea that MJ, who’s public persona was nothing more than a grown up kid himself, actually molested children was difficult to believe. But now, in 2019, the very thought that I didn’t believe the allegations against him feels pretty damn naïve. But at the time, I mean, he was weird and he was rich - which makes him an easy target. And just because he’s weird and rich doesn’t mean he’s evil. And besides, I like his music and his dancing is awesome. Therefore - he probably isn’t guilty. Right? (And "probably" was good enough for me.)
Shortly after his death (in 2009), I read about a couple of the police officers that had collected evidence in the 90's Jackson child abuse allegations. And while they were under a gag order and were unable to discuss specifics, both of the officers said something that struck me, which was to the effect of, “I make sure no one, and I mean no one in my house, or family - listens to Michael Jackson. Ever.”
Hmmm. Reading between the lines there, it sounds as if the officers involved in collecting evidence from Neverland Ranch were so disturbed by said collected evidence against M.J. - that they refused to let anyone in their family ever listen to his music.
To me, that suggested - something. Not everything, yet ... but something. But still, at the time, had you asked me if I was 100% certain of MJs guilt I probably would have made excuses defending him, but then at the end of the conversation would have said, “But I don’t know, I wasn’t there. So … maybe he’s guilty.”
Back to the fact that I really didn’t want to watch Leaving Neverland. You know why? Because it’s pretty damn clear I always suspected in my heart that my childhood idol was guilty of pedophilia and I just didn’t want to hear proof. Which is a sad admission, but there it is. Also, I suspect many, many people feel/felt this way.
And so, I watched it.
Holy God. The documentary is as horrifying as you’ve heard. Part 1 details the allegations, which are stunning. Part 2 deals with family trauma, which is heartbreaking. And it's true that the documentary doesn’t offer “proof,” per say (for example - video of the abuse), it does; however, offer two extremely believable, sincere testimonials from James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of whom accused MJ of sexually molesting them for many years when they were young, Wade as early as seven years old. Seven years old! And the documentary does not make any case that MJ doesn’t know what he is doing. In fact, it suggests the exact opposite in that MJ is a totally self aware f**king monster. The grooming. The planning. The lying. The seducing. The gifts. Getting the kids to lie for you. Just about everything we know about child molesters is there and it was probably always there, and most of us ignored it - because Michael Jackson is awesome!
Corey Feldman and Macaulay Culkin, MJ's two famous childhood actor friends, have both repeatedly said that MJ never did anything inappropriate to them which, I actually beleive because they were both famous child actors at the time. Pedophiles target kids with no power. Feldman and Culkin had, at least a modicum amount of power which is probably why MJ didn't target them. Culkin, as far as I am aware, has yet to comment on the documentary, but Feldman pushed back calling it “one sided” and criticized the film because MJ has no chance to defend himself. But, that's not exactly true, is it? I mean, MJ had every chance to defend himself when he was alive and in fact, he did so because there were acusations and trials. It occurred to me that we’ve only heard MJ’s side of the story - over and over and over - that he's innocent, he would never hurt kids, the alleged "victims" were out for money and that the media lied about him because he's rich and weird. That's the story we've been told. Leaving Neverland is actually, the first time we’ve ever heard from any of the alleged victims. So, I kind of feel like, while it's true we don't have "proof" that MJ is guilty or innocent - we've heard his side of things - that he's an altruistic angel and does nothing wrong and is the target of a smear campaign. And now we've finally heard from two of the alleged victims. And they are very, very compelling.
Feldman, himself an alleged victim of sexual abuse, quickly backtracked his early defense of MJ, telling CNN:
“I cannot in good consciousness defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous crimes, but at the same time, I’m also not here to judge him, because, again, he didn’t do those things to me and that was not my experience … It comes to a point where, as an advocate for victims, as an advocate for changing the statutes of limitations to make sure that victims’ voices are heard, it becomes impossible for me to stay virtuous and not at least consider what’s being said and not listen to what the victims are saying … As I’m watching it [the Leaving Neverland documentary], I’m going, ‘This doesn’t make sense to me. This isn’t the guy that I knew. But look, I’m a guy that at 14 years old was molested, did have a pedophile completely lie to me about who he was. I trusted him. I believed in him as a friend, and I thought he was a good person, and then he molested me. It all proves that I’m not the best judge, and that’s why I shouldn’t be the judge in this situation, and especially given the fact that I’m so close to [Jackson].”
Jackson still has his defenders. He always will. I used to be one of them. Not so much any longer. I mean, MJ was weird and rich and was an easy target and his estate is worth … God only knows … a couple of billion dollars? That, right there, is motive. So, I feel that I really understand all the reasons people don’t want to believe that, Michael Jackson, the best selling recording artist of all time - is a pedophile. I really do understand the reasons for doubt, but - I no longer believe any of them.
Not one bit.
Meanwhile, in the gaming community there has been some controversy about an upcoming game. Well, actually it’s been more like a huge fight. You see, there is a game developer called, “Desk Plant” and they are planning to release a game in April called “Rape Day.”
If you think the name of a game Rape Day means that you get to play a game where you … you know, rape women. Well, then you’d be right. That’s right - some douchebag company honestly thought it would be a great idea to market a game where you could rape women.
But who would be dumb enough to release such a game (you might ask)?
Enter Steam. For those that do not know, Steam is website developed by Valve Corporation. The site is used to distribute games & related media online and provides the user with installation and automatic management of software. Steam has a lot of games. And I mean - a lot. I use it all the time. In fact, 90 million active members use Steam every month, just to give you an idea how big the game site is.
Steam is no stranger to controversy. They sell a huge variety of games that cover a huge variety of topics up to and including - controversial topics. There has been game drama. Which led Steam to come up with an official response and, they kind of washed their hands with policing games they sell on their site. They feel that folks should be able to tell stories and create games about any and all controversial topics. It’s the free speech argument. Which is totally fair, so they basically said that unless the game is illegal - we’ll sell it. From their official June 6th, 2018 blog post:
“...we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.”
Okay. Fair enough. The “straight up trolling” comment is the interesting part because that could mean … well, a lot of different things.
Cut to Rape Day. The developers call it an interactive graphic novel. What this means is the game is not a traditional animated movement game as your characters walk around, interact with objects and fight bad guys. Instead of that, it’s more like you (the player) are flipping pages of a comic book and get to make choices in order to reveal specific drawn pages.
The premise of Rape Day is simple: it’s a zombie apocalypse. And in the zombie apocalypse you play a sociopath. And you get to kill zombies. You also get to murder survivors and rape any and all women you encounter!
As you can imagine, the ridiculous premise brought the gamer social media house down. Multiple petitions and almost ten thousand emails flooded Steam Sales owner Valve Corporation with a universal cry of “WTF?”
After a few days of deliberating, Steam released this as their official word on the matter:
"After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think Rape Day poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on Steam. We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that."
I’m fine with Steam’s decision here. Now, this doesn’t mean no one will be able to find the game anywhere. Desk Plant will probably just sell it off their own site, or something. But not getting on Steam will certainly restrict its findability, for sure.
BUT .... like all controversial things … controversy breeds sales. And I know I am part of the problem here. For example: It’s highly likely that, had I not written about this game - you may have gone your entire life without ever hearing about it. And I wouldn’t have ever heard about it had several game sites not written about it. Had the game just been released on Steam it might have come and gone and the overwhelming majority of us would have lived in blissful ignorance. Which, probably, would have kept sales for Rape Day, very, very low. And then the game and the company that developed it, probably would have come and gone and faded into obscurity.
Alas, now it’s out there. It’s not even just on the game sites any longer as Variety, Business Insider and Fortune all have articles about it. What probably began as some legitimately concerned women and/or parents sending a message or two to Steam asking them, “Is this seriously what you want to sell on your site?” has now blossomed into free advertising for a game that most folks would have never, ever heard about in the first place.
Which makes me a little sad. I mean, technically, these guys aren't doing anything illegal (as far as I am aware) but the idea of trying to "normalize rape" (that's the game developer's words, not mine) frankly, is kind of disgusting.
So, while Rape Day, as a game, might be legal - at least it won’t easily accessible and found on Steam. And I'm okay with that.
Although, I am suddenly playing Devil's Advocate here and thinking, "But if it remains on Steam, you could see which of your friends are playing it and then you could sit them down and be like, "Dude - WTF is wrong with you!?"
Nah. I guess I'd just rather just have it off Steam, go find it somewhere else, Incel Troll.
Tanner Wilson, a student at Caddo Hills High School in Norman, Arkansas often walked the halls of school with his wheelchair bound buddy, Brandon Qualls. Tanner took notice that his friend Brandon, would often have to stop and rest his arms due to fatigue. And it’s easy to imagine why. I mean, you try pushing yourself around in a manual wheelchair for hours at a time and see how long you last. Right?
Anyway, Tanner took notice alright. So much so that he spent two years saving his money from a part time job. He also spent a year searching the internet for a motorized wheelchair that would work well for his friend Brandon. After two years of work, saving and then finally finding a motorized wheelchair on sale on Facebook, Tanner bought it for his buddy. Tanner then surprised Brandon during class one day, presenting the wheelchair to him in front of his friends and teacher.
You can watch the video here. (This is the same video linked to the front of the page).
And that is why Tanner Wilson is my favorite person this month.
Two devastating tornadoes ripped through Alabama on Sunday night killing at least 23 people, injuring dozens more with at least ten people still missing. The Governor immediately declared a statewide emergency and by Monday afternoon FEMA had search and rescue teams in state in hopes of finding those still missing.
In fact, 18 tornadoes hit Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend, it’s just that the Alabama two did the most damage, including one that blasted through Lee County and caused the most deaths. The storm hit several families tragically hard - seven from two families related by marriage were killed and at least three families had two or three people die in the storm. The names of the all the victims can be found here.
By Tuesday morning rescue operations turned into recovery operations and residents were told to push any debris on their property out to the edge of the roadway for eventual pickup. But if that’s not bad enough, the weekend might bring in more storms from the west.
According to CNN there are multiple ways you can help families affected by the storm - here is the official link to the Public Good campaign to help victims of Alabama tornadoes. Or you can donate to the Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.
Multiple sources (but mostly CNN Business) are reporting that Amazon will offer their Prime customers the option to select “Amazon Day” for their delivery option. An Amazon Day selection means customers may select a specific day of the week to receive all their packages from the company, instead of Amazon delivering packages to them through the week.
This is Amazon’s plan to “reduce its carbon footprint and give customers more control over when they receive their packages.” Seems like a legit idea to me. Especially for folks who order from Amazon multiple times per week. The only minor issue issue I see could be one of storage space. I know Amazon already has many warehouses where they store product but this seems to be slightly different. For example: Let’s say over the course of a week you order ten things from Amazon and want them all delivered the following Monday. And then millions of other folks do the exact same thing. Suddenly, that’s means Amazon has a large amount of things to store until Monday morning. Which, could be an issue. But, I guess the counter argument is that storage is probably only a minor logistical problem - for a company a large as Amazon. Fair enough.
Again, it should be noted that only Prime member will receive the Amazon Day option and you don’t need to select it. If you wish, you can continue to get your shipments daily. I’ve also read that by, “2030, Amazon wants half of its shipments to be carbon neutral.” To me that says that Amazon Day, for now, is optional. But it might suggest that it will become the norm at some time in the future.
I think the once per week delivery option is actually a great idea. Much better then Amazon’s previous “make the delivery process smoother” idea - the Amazon Key. If you are unfamiliar with the idea, Amazon’s Key is a security camera, door lock and Cloud storage for about $250. You instal Amazon’s Security System and Key and that will allow Amazon drivers to unlock your Amazon lock, and deliver your packages inside your home when you are away.
I mean, safe packages - that’s cool. But … allowing strangers into your home - not so much.
And, after a quick Google search for “Amazon Key sales” it appears as if Amazon Key has been wildly unsuccessful and hugely unpopular. And I am not surprised.
Amazon Key. Nope.
Amazon Day. Sign me up!
For better or worse the Oscar ceremony is over and Green Book is now an Academy Award winning film. I understand there is some controversy about the movie but it’s gone unseen by me so I can’t really comment. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited by any of the choices for Best Picture so I kind of didn’t really care what won.
That being said, Black Panther won the awards it should have won - production, costuming and original score. Which, the “original score” was the one that shocked me. Not that I was surprised it did (or did not) win for original score, no that’s not what I meant. What surprised me was that a young, head banging, long haired white dude wrote the score for a Afro-centric film. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just wasn’t expecting it. But good for him.
Anyway, here is a list of full winners. But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about. Each year there are always delightful behind the scenes moments that didn’t make it to the public eye. I’ve found a few of them.
James McAvoy (pictured): Apparently, McAvoy found a red Sharpie somewhere back stage and made a spur of the moment decision to grab it and ask lots of his famous friends to sign his shirt. He Instagrammed about it and said he would find a way to sell the shirt for charity.
Trevor Noah: Twitter has been abuzz this morning with Mr. Noah’s inside joke. At the Oscar’s he told a story on stage, “Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see T'Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase. He says 'abelungu abazi uba ndiyaxoka' -- which means, 'In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.'" Of course, come to find out what the phrase actually means is, “White people don’t know I’m lying.”
Spike Lee: Perhaps my favorite “you didn’t see (or hear)” moment of the evening. Lee’s very first words upon taking the stage accepting his award for best adapted screenplay were, “Do not turn that mother f**king clock on!” Which is a reference to the time limit that winners are supposed to have. ABC, which broadcasts on a six second delay, cut the line from the live feed. Which means the live audience heard it but we at home never did.
As for the, downright coolest thing I didn’t know about and only found out about this morning - the CIA’s Reel vs Real series. Which is a super fun exploration of technology you see in movies vs. how real and / or close to reality the movie technology is. The CIA even Tweeted about it live during the Oscars, offering their readers quizzes. It’s pretty great. And, also, I guess the folks at the CIA loved Black Panther because they seem to focus on the movie a lot.
First of all, I’m not a fan of the Tucker Carlson Show; however, because of my job, I have to watch it on occasion. His show is typical conservative talking points without much depth and a whole lot of disingenuous propaganda. That being said, in the past few days I’ve read much about Carlson’s “meltdown” during his pre-recorded unaired interview with Dutch Historian Rutger Bregman. Imagine my disappointment when I found out the meltdown wasn’t much more than Carlson calling his guest a “moron” and telling him to go “f**k himself.”Before I spout my two cents, let me give you some context on just who the guest in question, Rutger Bregman, is.
According to wikipedia:
“Rutger C. Bregman (born 1988) is a Dutch historian and author. He has published four books on history, philosophy and economics, including Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World, which has been translated into twenty languages. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists" became a national bestseller and sparked a basic income movement that soon made international headlines." His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian and the BBC. He has been described by The Guardian as the "Dutch wunderkind of new ideas” and by TED Talks as "one of Europe's most prominent young thinkers." His TED Talk, "Poverty Isn't a Lack of Character; It's a Lack of Cash," was chosen by TED curator Chris Anderson as one of the top ten of 2017.”
Okay, fair enough. He seems to be well educated and knows his stuff. But he, very recently, shot to viral fame when, in January he attended Davos and … well, told them off.
So … what exactly is Davos (besides being a town in the Swiss Alps)?
Well, basically Davos is the common name for a yearly gathering of an international organization called the World Economic Forum. Thousands of business, political and charity figures attend the week long event. It can, though does not always, lead to significant consequences for global affairs.
So, Bregman goes to Davos and basically says,
“This is my first time at Davos, and I find it quite a bewildering experience to be honest.
I mean 1,500 private jets have flown in here to hear Sir David Attenborough speak about, you know, how we're wrecking the planet. And, I mean, I hear people talking the language or participation and justice and equality and transparency, but then, I mean, almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance right? And of the rich just not paying their fair share. I mean, it feels like I'm at a firefighters conference and no one's allowed to speak about water, right?”
Damn! I mean, he’s not wrong because as we all know, hypocrisy knows no bounds. Especially in the day and age where Netflix and Amazon pay zero $$ in taxes. I mean, two gazillion dollar corporations pay - zero dollars in taxes. That is sickening.
Anyway. Bregman’s full speech can be found here, he’s actually the first speaker so you won’t have to wait long. Okay, so now you’re all caught up.
What about the Tucker Carlson meltdown?
So, after the Davos speech in Jan, Carlson invites Bregman to pre-record an interview for the Tucker Carlson show to be aired at a later date. Bregman agrees. The interview happens.
And the interview starts out benign enough, you know? I mean, Carlson seems genuinely happy to have Bregman on the show and gushes about the shellacking the Bregman gave the rich folks at Davos. It’s quite clear that Carlson is happy to have Bregman on the show - to talk about tax avoidance.
Things go south quickly. Carlson wants Bregman to keep talking about tax evasion but Bregman clearly had no intention of letting Carlson lead the conversation. So Bregman just rolls over Carlson and says, “raise taxes on the rich” and to Carlson directly, “you’re a millionaire funded by billionaires, that’s what you are!”
This all may be true but Carlson gets flustered and angry that Bregman keeps pushing the “raise taxes on the rich.” As you may or may not know, Carlson is rich. And it is NOT a Fox talking point to say, “raise taxes on the rich.” Which, to be honest, I think is kind of odd. I mean, the vast majority of Fox viewers are not rich. Far from it. You would think they would be fine with the idea of raising taxes on the rich. But, I guess not. I guess Bregman is correct when he points out to Carlson that he’s part of the problem, not the solution. The interview was never aired but Bregman had a feeling that would happen and so he had some folk record the video feed (on their end) which is how it made the light of day.
Anyway, Carlson gets angry and finally calls Bregman a moron and tells him to “f**k off,” which, as far as I am concerned is nothing to write home about. I mean, he said, the “f” word? Why is this considered a melt down?
If you watch the entire “meltdown” video it is true that Carlson becomes so flustered that he just can’t think of how to respond and so reverts to juvenile taunts like, “tiny brain” and “moron.” This might be proof that Carlson is not really the intellectual giant he believes himself to be, but I would hardly call it a meltdown.
Anyway. Tucker Carlson got his ass handed to him by the same guy who stood up in front of a bunch of rich folks at Devos and … handed them their asses. Should anyone be surprised?
I guess, I wasn’t. It still wasn’t a meltdown, though.
Mexican researchers had a major breakthrough in treating HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common sexually transmitted disease. In fact, the CDC states that almost 80 million Americans are infected with HPV with approximately 14 million people becoming newly infected per year. Those are just the numbers in the U.S. alone.
What exactly is HPV?
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses, named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause. Some other HPV types can lead to cancer. According to the CDC website:
“In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.
Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer). Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.”
According to, El Universal, a popular Mexican newsite, a research team at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute led by Eva Ramon Gallegos, was able to eliminate HPV in dozens of patients using a non-invasive photodynamic therapy. Which makes us all ask, what is photodynamic therapy? Well, according to cancer.gov:
“Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light. When photosensitizers are exposed to a specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells.”
Sounds like science fiction to me but whatever works! Anyway, according to Ramon’s study, the team was able to eliminate HPV in 100 percent of patients that had no premalignant lesions and in 64.3 percent of subjects with lesions.
Now, I know that viral headlines all across the internet screamed the HPV has been cured but, um - not so fast. There are over 100 different kinds of HPV. Some cause health problems, some do not. Some, but not many, cause cancer. One of the reasons cancer is so hard to cure is because each type of cancer will require a completely different cure. Something that cures cervical cancer, for example, will probably not cure breast cancer. And something that cures type 6,11,16 and 18 (most of the problematic HPV types) types of HPV might not work on other types of HPV.
As pointed out by Liz Highleyman, the editor in chief at www.cancerhealth.com in her A Cure for HPV, not so fast…, there are too many forms of HPV to claim they have all been cured. Highleyman notes the Mexican research only focused on two types of HPV. So, while the research is good news, it’s not exactly a full cure. From her article:
“It’s not clear how photodynamic treatment might eliminate HPV infection, which would seem to require some type of antiviral therapy. But there’s clearly something going on.
Despite the unanswered questions raised by the recent reports, the findings from the Mexican study are good news for people with HPV-associated dysplasia. Photodynamic therapy is well tolerated and noninvasive. Using PDT instead of surgery to remove precancerous tissue could help preserve function in people with anal lesions and the ability to carry a pregnancy in women with cervical lesions.
The news also presents an opportunity to promote HPV vaccination. The new Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against several of the most common cancer-causing HPV types (16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) and two wart-causing types (6 and 11). It is recommended for girls and boys around age 11 or 12, before they become sexually active. However, the FDA recently approved the vaccine for women and men up to age 45, meaning people who were not vaccinated as teens or young adults may still be able to benefit.”
Okay. So perhaps “cures HPV” is too strong a statement. But things seem to be heading in the right direction!
Too much insider chagrin, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors decided that four Oscar categories (Cinematography, Editing, Live Short Film, Hair & Makeup) would be announced during commercial breaks and not live for the telecast. Now, this general idea is nothing new as the entire Scientific and Technical Awards take place two weeks before the Oscar ceremony. From the Oscars.org website:
“The Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards honor the men, women and companies whose discoveries and innovations have contributed in significant and lasting ways to motion pictures. Honorees are celebrated at a formal dinner held two weeks prior to the Oscar ceremony. The Sci-Tech Awards presentation has become a highlight of the Academy Awards season.”
Okay. So we have minor precedent that some awards take place - well, off camera. And if you wanted to assign Hair and Makeup and maybe some of the technical awards for sound and visual effects to the Sci-Tech award dinner, there may (or may not) have been as much outcry.
But … cinematography? And editing? Are you kidding me?
Well, even though my stunned disbelief went unheard; the Academy was bombarded by negative press coming from all sorts of Hollywood bigwig insiders such as the American Society of Cinematographers, the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild.
The intent of the Academy’s decision was to yearly rotate different category winners to be “off camera” and then have the edited speeches quickly shown in montage format later in the show. This is all designed to save time as the Oscar ceremony tends to run more than three hours. And, I guess folks complain about that. Or, perhaps there is a contractual agreement to have the show in 3 hours or less. Either way, I find it odd. I mean, the ceremony is long. It’s always been long. Deal with it. Or, don’t watch it. Or, don’t contractually agree to make it less than 3 hours because it might be 3.5 hours. It usually is. Why feign surprise this year? You know?
Anyway. The change didn’t settle well with some big named celebrities who threw their Twitter weight around and drummed up enough bad press and negative social media buzz for the Academy to reverse course entirely with this press release:
“The Academy has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards — Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling. All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24.”
First there was the "Popular Film" category that everyone hated. So it was dropped. Then their was Kevin Hart as host, who the Academy dropped. And now the off camera awards - decision revesed.
What's next, I wonder?
I guess we'll find out on Sunday night.