‘The Atlantic’s’ Theory of Ageism at the Oscars

The Atlantic seems to be waxing conspiracy theorist when it comes to the 2014 Oscars. In Noah Gittell’s article, “The Oscars’ Hidden, Youthful Agenda,” the author adroitly pegs the ceremony as pure propaganda, dating from its genesis in 1929 as a persuasive mechanism to gain approval for the filmmaking medium after a series of Hollywood murders and The Catholic League’s Legion of Decency decry of “immorality” besmirched the nascent industry. Gittell asserts that since there’s been collective worry about a weakening of the new-star-machine, the Academy has been trying to resuscitate burgeoning stardom by turning a blind eye to veteran actors, such as this year’s snub-ees Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Emma Thompson, Forest Whitaker, and Oprah Winfrey.

While I’m all for griping about the Oscars, Amy Adams, at 39, is the youngest Best Actress candidate. Chiwetel Ejoifer, 36, is the youngest Best Actor nominee. For Best Picture, two films focused on the elderly – Philomena and Nebraska – beat out the younger, hipper Inside Llewyn Davis. Both were given Best Actress and Actor nods for their laudable septuagenarians, while Oscar Isaac, the 34-year-old quintessence of the type of unknown-ish actor Oscar might use to further its young agenda if it had a youth agenda, was overlooked. The article’s presentation of the unknown bits of Oscar’s history is fascinating, and it’s exciting to expose the slimy underbelly of institutionalized praise, but I wonder if in the case of this year’s awards, it’s a mythical underbelly.