'Genre Films' Deserve Proper Respect
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'Genre Films' Deserve Proper Respect

Why do certain films within certain genres never seem to get any real recognition from the Academy and other awards shows?

'Genre Films' Deserve Proper Respect

After hearing the announcement of the Best Popular Film category for the Oscars, I developed many strong feelings about this new category as the rest of the internet did. While most of the internet expressed rage (the only emotion the internet is apparently capable of expressing) at this new category, I mostly felt annoyance at this for several reasons. One being the Academy using this category as an excuse to give awards to films people like and have actually seen without having to actually nominate them for any "real" categories like Best Picture and any of the writing awards.

Many of the films nominated for Oscars are usually smaller "indie" productions that most average moviegoers rarely see due to their smaller marketing budgets and the fact that most of the deal with some depressing, albeit important, subject matters like war, slavery, racism or fighting cancer. These films often use the awards they win as a sort of advertisement for a film and helps bump up its prestige. However, the lack of more mainstream, blockbuster films within these awards shows has led to a ratings drop in recent years.

This is one of the most likely reasons the Academy is implementing this award. However, the announcement was met with so much negativity that they might drop the category. Although the inclusion of this category has brought up an interesting question: why are more mainstream, blockbuster hits often ignored by the Oscars? Why do the acting and writing of a scifi film like "Blade Runner 2049" or a comic book film like "Logan" not share the same spotlight as those in films like "The King's Speech" or "La La Land."

Many prestigious awards shows often shun what are often considered "genre films" (which is a "nicer" way of saying films that don't deserve awards). These are usually films within the fantasy, science fiction, horror and comic book genres. While there have been exceptions to this exclusion ("Star Wars" was nominated for best picture in 1977 and "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won Best Picture), but they are few and far between.

In the entire history of the Academy, only three animated films have ever been nominated for Best Picture. This is most likely due to the fact that the Academy created the Best Animated Picture. As an animation fan, I have mixed feelings about this award. While it's good to see the Academy give one of my favorite genres some respect, it can be argued that this award cheapens animated films as a whole by relegating them to a permanent "kid's table" to keep them from competing in the more "prestigious" categories.

This is an argument that is felt today with one of the most popular genres in film now; comic book films. Comic book films have rarely seen any love from the Academy. People wondered why "The Dark Knight" (which received massive commercial and critical success) wasn't nominated for Best Picture in 2008. People asked why "Logan" or "The Avengers" never got any love from the Academy.

This is most likely due to the fact that most "genre films" such as superhero movies are seen as "low art" by the aging members of the Academy. They see things like period dramas and films about historical events as the only films capable of conveying deeper themes and emotions to an audience. Genres like scifi and superheroes are viewed as disposable action fluff for the masses that lacks any real thematic or emotional merit.

We see this in the creation of the new Best Popular Film category. The Academy gets to reference and give an award to films that most people have seen and like while retaining the "dignity" (as they see it) of the higher awards by keeping those "genre films" in their own category. This is why the backlash toward this new category has been so strong. In a way, it disrespects the talented people who make these films and the hard work they pour into them to make them the best they can be.

This lack of recognition and respect for the people who make certain films in specific genres is an example of aging members of the Academy who still hold onto their old prejudices about certain genres and are unable to except that these genres have improved in quality over the last 50 years or so. They also lack the ability to accept things that are new and appeal to a younger generation more, such as comic books.

The argument over this category got very when people guessed (most likely correctly) that the category was implemented now so that they can give an award to the most likely candidate for such an award, "Black Panther," without having to nominate it for Best Picture (which, due to its astonishing financial success and critic reviews, people were hoping would be the first comic book film to receive such an honor.)

Genre should not determine the difference between "high" and "low" art. The Academy has nominated several film that are period dramas that are actually not that great. "Out of Africa" is a boring, almost three hour slog of a film that lacks engaging characters and scenarios that don't really amount to much, and yet, it won Best Picture in 1985. "Shakespeare in Love" (a decent, but forgettable period film) beat out "Saving Private Ryan" in the same category.

It's high time the Academy actually start nominating films based on actual quality regardless of genre. A film can be new thematic depths and deliver raw emotion through visuals, acting and music no matter what genre it's in. A film like "Black Panther" was able to convey themes such as racial identity, cultural identity and the struggle to maintain it in a more open world, colonialism and how helping others should take priority over nationalism and paranoia. So, if anyone in the Academy is reading (astronomically unlikely) you should do the right thing and nominate films on their merit rather than genre and stop being cowards. Just nominate "Black Panther" for Best Picture already.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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