Cock Cock Cock Cock Cock (On the Oscar Nominations 2015)

This is the unedited version of an article that otherwise appears on The Conversation.

Here goes:-

In order to suck one’s own cock, I guess one needs a cock in the first place. In some senses it is logical, then, that awards ceremonies, along with other systems of self-congratulation, have a touch of the priapic about them.

However, in the spirit of a recent essay on ‘masculinity in crisis‘ over at Souciant, Hollywood this year seems strongly to be about penises. Don’t get me wrong – penises can be beautiful things, even if often also the cause of much embarrassment to their owner (for being too small, for shrivelling up at the wrong moment, for arriving too early at a meeting with a vagina, an anus, a mouth, or whatever other orifice and/or implement it cares to encounter).

A good number of the films nominated at this year’s Academy Awards are pretty good films. Hell, technically, they’re all excellent. That is: yep, they’re penises, and they demonstrate that they work like penises do.

But it all seems like a lot of penis to me. Best Film nominees are about learning how to grow a penis (Boyhood, Whiplash), having a massive penis (American Sniper), trying to retumesce a flaccid penis (Birdman), having a vagina-liking penis that most people think is an anus-liking penis (The Grand Budapest Hotel), having an anus-liking penis that has to hide the fact that it likes anuses (The Imitation Game), having a fully working penis that most people think is a crippled penis (The Theory of Everything), and being a famously cocky civil rights campaigner (Selma).

All the fiction directors – including the ‘foreign’ ones and the ones working in animation – have penises. All the writers – original and adapted – have penises. All the cinematographers have penises. All of the composers have penises. All of the sound editors have penises. Five out of the six nominated editors have penises.

There is one documentary directed by someone with a vagina (CitizenFOUR), but it is about someone with a penis. There is also a documentary about someone with a vagina (Finding Vivian Maier), but it is directed by someone – two people, in fact – with a penis. What is more, this film is really about someone with a vagina who was too afraid to show their work or come out as an artist in their lifetime – perhaps in part because they did not have a penis (and therefore trying to become an artist was a bit fruitless; still, at least a penis is there to rehabilitate her now).

Of course, there are some vaginas nominated in the categories reserved for actors with vaginas. Among the Best Actress nominees, one is a murderous bitch (Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl), one has early onset Alzheimer’s (Julianne Moore in Still Alice), one is an antisocial loner (Reese Wetherspoon in Wild), one a woman who is rejected by most of the men she works with since they’d prefer a bonus to her having a job (Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night), and one is the foil to a genius whose own doctorate and motherhood duties play second fiddle to a man who ends up dumping her for a woman who’ll give him a handjob while looking at Penthouse magazine (Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything).

Compare to the men – and we have a hero (Bradley Cooper in American Sniper), two geniuses*** (Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game; Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything), a harmless madman who becomes hailed as a genius (Michael Keaton in Birdman, with this being a ‘woah! he’s still got a penis’ nom), and a bonkers rich recluse who eventually kills someone because his mum is a bitch (Steve Carell in Foxcatcher, with the ‘woah, he actually has a penis’ nom).

And the supporting actresses are nominated mainly in roles that are vaginas supporting penises (Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, Emma Stone in Birdman, Patricia Arquette in Boyhood), with Meryl Streep as a witch (Into the Woods). Maybe only Laura Dern in Wild, playing Reese Witherspoon’s mother, manages to evade being the penis-crutch that most vaginas are expected to be. But, you know, the title alone suggests that independent women are ‘wild’ and dangerous and not to be trusted.

I saw Boyhood and thought that Patricia Arquette was the best thing in it and came out of the film thinking that instead of Boyhood the film should be called Motherhood (or at the very least Texas). But no – it got named after the penis and the vagina is overlooked again.

Even the nomination of Meryl Streep seems more obligatory than worthy – especially when someone like Octavia Spencer made me cry within three minutes of being on screen in the massively overlooked Fruitvale Station (which, admittedly, would not have qualified for these Oscars because it had a – limited – US release date in 2013, even if released in the UK only in June 2014).

But the point remains… The man from Hollywood, he say hail the cock. And fuck the cunt. This is our world.

*** I am intrigued about how these two nominations are about specifically scientific geniuses, and the reverence that scientific geniuses receive, which stands in some contrast to artistic geniuses, perhaps. If the universe is mathematical, then working out formulae that best describe it is inevitable over time – because one must find the formula for A.I. (Turing) and/or the big bang/black holes (Hawking). In other words, if not these men, then someone would have worked out how to do what they did – even if these men were in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time to work it out. Contrast this to a work of art: if Picasso had not lived, his art works would not exist, while someone would have worked out what both Turing and Hawking worked out at some point in time because all they are doing is maths (no disparagement intended). Given the irreplaceable nature of Picasso, but given that logically Turing and Hawking are entirely replaceable, why do we celebrate scientific genius (this year, anyway) more than artistic genius?

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About wjrcbrown

I am a Lecturer in Film at Roehampton University. I am a sort of filmmaker.
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