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Independent Spirit Awards, Aubrey Plaza Hilariously Blasts Oscars

Aubrey Plaza's opening monologue at the Film Independent Spirit Awards (Screenshot via YouTube)
Aubrey Plaza's opening monologue at the Film Independent Spirit Awards (Screenshot via YouTube)

Comedic actress Aubrey Plaza hosted the annual Independent Spirit film awards and poked fun at the ongoing cultural and political controversies that plague its bigger equivalent, the Oscars.

The Independent Spirit awards takes place on a beach the day before the Academy Awards, Feb. 24 this year. Host Aubrey Plaza had plenty of jokes that resonated with even casual viewers of the yearly Hollywood bonanza.

“The (IFC) network’s first choice (to host) was ‘no one,’ but they were already booked for tomorrow,” Plaza said in her opening monologue, ripping the Oscars for pulling the plug on the initial choice host, Kevin Hart, after his anti-gay tweets were uncovered.

No Holds Barred at the Independent Spirit Awards

The not-so-subtle digs continued.

“60 percent of our director nominees are women,” she said in a year when the Oscars don’t have a single female director nominee. “Don’t get too excited: In this case, 60 percent just means three women, but calling it 60 percent makes it sound way scarier to your uncles, and that’s fun for me.”

Plaza also commented on Spike Lee’s acclaimed film BlacKkKlansman, citing how its only Oscar nomination for acting is a Caucasian star. “BlacKkKlansman explores the struggle of a black police officer to find his role in the fight against white supremacy. So congratulations to the sole nominee from that film today, Adam Driver. We are so proud of you. You were the best one. I’m sure they’ll do the white thing.”

Plaza then turned to filmmaker John Waters, who was up in the booth “to direct the show,” she said. Waters took Plaza’s lead and made a joke aimed at embattled director Bryan Singer, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct and absent from award season while his movie Bohemian Rhapsody has been reaping awards. “It’s television, Aubrey. Like Bohemian Rhapsody, [this Spirit Awards] doesn’t really have a director. It directs itself.”

Plaza also used her time onstage to make fun of streaming platform Netflix, which distributed Oscar- and Spirit Award-nominated film Roma.

“I do love movies. I truly believe that people should see them how they are meant to be seen. In the theaters!” Plaza said as the audience cheered. “And I know, I know, if the movie you poured your soul into is on Netflix, it will be seen by millions of people as they scroll past it finding the show about folding socks into squares. Tidying Up (With Marie Kondo) or Roma? Either way, I’m going to watch someone clean up a bunch of (crap), so who cares?”

The Oscars—Struggling for Relevance

The Academy Awards have drawn even more controversy than usual this year. In the past it wrestled with accusations of lack of diversity in its nominees, for race and gender. Its relevance has also been questioned considering the disparity between its nominated films and the public’s preferences reflected in blockbuster films that don’t get nominated.

This past year, the Academy attempted to bridge the gap by proposing a new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” only to hastily scrap the idea a month later after swift criticism from filmmakers and audiences alike for pandering.

Most recently, the Academy also considered not airing its “less popular” categories such as cinematography and film editing in its annual telecast. This also drew immediate backlash, with accusations of belittling crafts that are just as crucial to the art of filmmaking as acting or directing. Once again, the Academy retracted the proposal.

The Oscars have struggled for decades now to obtain interest from viewers, and their transparent attempts to remedy this only exacerbate their tenuous place in pop culture. Perhaps the Oscars should just accept the fact that in many respects they have become a niche interest in popular culture, albeit a relatively large one, that has simply lost its original stature from its past glory days. Like all cultural institutions and mediums, they may be subject to various peaks and valleys in its continuing legacy.

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