East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Artistic freedom at Rick’s Café Americain

Leave a comment

The muddy bottom half of the internet has got its knickers in a nasty twist over the announced decision rules for diversity and inclusivity will be implemented in the selection of the Oscar-worthy Best Movies entries, starting 2025.
In a nutshell, the new rules will require productions to include members of a number of categories, including BIPOC and LGBT+ individuals, and to cover certain features in their plots and screenplays.

This is clearly Hollywood trying to make a show of being in tune with the times, but goodness have the bottom feeders on the socials gone wild on this!
Apparently requiring a more inclusive workplace from movies that hope to get the Best Film award is fascism, is thought policing worthy of George Orwell, it’s hypocritical and fake.
And mind you, I may be with them on the hypocritical and fake thing, but I still believe that a good thing can come out of what’s done for the wrong reason. I’m an optimist.
But …

Where are the defenders of artistic freedom?

… someone asked in a loud voice two days ago in the murky depths of the internet.
Well, chum, here I am – try and follow me.

Artistic freedom has nothing to do with the rules.
It never had.
It does not even matter what rules exactly, because artistic freedom has nothing to do with them.
This should be clear to anyone who ever watched five movies in their lives – there are no rules, there is no formula.

And if this means that the new Oscar Regulations will not guarantee that starting in 2025 the movies will be better, there is also no guarantee they will be worse. Because the rules have noting to do with the quality of the movie.
Masterpieces and utter rubbish have been produced both playing strictly by the rules – of genre, of format, of censorship – and by breaking them.

And no, requiring a movie to be produced including a homosexual and a person of color anywhere in the cast (yes, even the intern that photocopies the scripts) will not cause our civilization to go down in the flames of “woke dictatorship” or whatever other stupid slogan they are using these days.

Consider, if you will, Casablanca, from 1942.

  • A movie directed by an emigree – Hungarian Michael Curtiz (born Manò Kaminer)
  • green-lit by a woman as story editor – Irene Diamond.
  • featuring a diverse international cast of refugees – incleding Jewish-Hungarian László Löwenstein, aka Peter Lorre, but also Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt, Louis V. Arco, Trude Berliner, Ilka Grünig, Ludwig Stössel, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Wolfgang Zilzer, Madeleine Lebeau, S.Z Sakall, Helmut Dantine, Richard Ryen…
  • featuring a black actor in a key role – Dooley Wilson as Sam
  • with an obvious and open political agenda and pushing a progressive message (“screw the Nazi”)
  • somewhat going against the feelings of a lot of members of the paying public at the time (that were sort of all right with the Fascists)

And it was made in 1942, following strictly the rules of the Movie Censorship Code.
And as we are at it, the Hays Code was another set of rules implemented by the studios – because they thought having their own censorship system would leave them more freedom than an external agency (or something like the Christian Moral Legion or what).
So yes, the Hays Code was actually a small hypocritical play by the movie producers to make a show they were in tune with the times.

But Casablanca (just like many other great movies) was made nonetheless.
And it won an Oscar for Best Movie – the bone of contention with the new 2025 rules.
And really, who cares about the Oscar, it’s a frigging masterpiece – and it’s been listed as one of the greatest movies of the 20th century.

So here is your artistic freedom – where it’s always been, in the hands of the creators, not intertwined with the rules.

So at this point the bottom feeders might ask,

but if nothing’s changed, what’s this all about with the new rules?

Well, chum, you tell me.
You’re the one making a fuss over it.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.