Arriving From Abroad, And Seeing The Oscars

[Waves.] Hello from upstate New York – about three hours’ drive north of Manhattan – in the Catskills. We’ve made it!:

Windham Mountain ski resort (about 5 miles away), left. Hunter Mountain (about 15 miles away), right. Taken from our house earlier just around sun up. It's nearly all "artificial" snow. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Windham Mountain ski resort (about 5 miles away), left. Hunter Mountain (about 15 miles away), right. Taken from our house earlier just around sun up. It’s nearly all “artificial” snow. [Photo by me, 2016.]
And what a strange winter this is: last day of February and there’s almost no snow. And I mean NONE. Natural snow has been so rare since December, the ski resorts have all had to rely mostly on the “man-made” variety.

The trip was fine. We had a good flight from London. Got the rental car at Newark Airport no problem.

On I-78, it was a jolt to be reintroduced – even though I’ve only been away 8 weeks – to my fellow countrymen’s highway driving habits. (Especially in New Jersey. 😉 ) The idiotic passing on the right – even when they don’t “have to” (when passing properly on the left would be easy enough) – is appallingly dangerous. It is little wonder the highway accident and death toll here is so high.

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Roadways aside, we reached our house with no problem – and even just before dark. After re-settling in, we collapsed in front of the TV and watched some of the Oscars live. We didn’t see most of it – only the first hour or so before we could no longer keep our eyes open.

The awards had been bogged down in an internal diversity dispute about race this year: who got nominated for awards and who didn’t. As you may have also seen, or read about by now, the host opened the show attacking the lack of diversity:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

He also attacked the attacking of it, so sort of something for “everyone,” I guess. But watching him focusing mostly on Americans – black and white – I thought of the reality that most Hollywood film customers nowadays are not even Americans. Yet this diversity debate seems largely restricted to an “in-house” Hollywood argument about black Americans and white Americans. (Largely unsaid, but clearly part of it, is many whites on screen are not even Americans, but white British/ Australians/ Irish and other Europeans.)

When I sit in British cinemas and see the British, of all races and backgrounds, around me watching Hollywood films revolving around the U.S., if I think about that as an American I find myself with a weird feeling. What are these British thinking as they watch all of those American actors in these U.S.-centric films set in places in the U.S. many of them will never visit?

My mother-in-law likes to tell a story about being a child during “the war” (that being World War II) and going to the cinema in blitzed London and seeing some Hollywood film in which a scene included a family sitting around an affluent American dinner table. One of the kids bemoans the meal: “Oh, no, not chicken again.” As my mother-in-law likes to joke, she remembered everyone around her in the cinema, living on tiny wartime rations, moaning for a different reason: “What we would have given for a chicken dinner,” she says.

In watching Hollywood films in still other places, what might cinema-goers be thinking today as Americans of differing ethnicities debate among themselves about “a lack of diversity” in their films? What do film-goers in, say, Rio, or Hong Kong, or Mumbai/Bombay, or Rabat think? When they take a cinema seat, looking at the screen do they ask where are the Brazilians, Chinese, Indians, or Moroccans? Or do they simply see Hollywood as a foreign product?

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Once we go down that global route, though, it gets all even more monstrously complicated, of course. I’m a bit jet-lagged, so I’ll stop. Hey, look, I pulled out the “positive-thinking” mugs this morning:

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]
I need to focus much more on the positive in life. We all need to. Hope you’re having a good day, wherever you are. 🙂