Like the rest of America, I sat there stunned last night while the gaffe of the century — I'm talking, of course, about the Oscars' #envelopegate — played out on my screen. Then I cheered for Moonlight, wishing that its creators had gotten more time to speak and had won normally instead of found themselves at the heart of an epic mix-up. So many emotions were stuffed into a few seconds.
And then, I stupidly started scrolling through Twitter. I need to stop doing that after major events like awards shows and the Super Bowl. Because people post things like this:
And lots and lots of this:
It would all be funny and harmless if this kind of cheap, two-bit analysis didn't happen after every single major event in our country. I'm starting to think our national discourse would be a lot healthier, more interesting, and less eye-roll-worthy if we didn't turn everything into a good-versus-evil narrative. No, I'm not here to take away your memes, but let's spend more time thinking about the issues behind them. Those may be harder to discuss in 140 characters, but I hear long threads are all the rage.
I'll answer what you're probably thinking: What's wrong with having some fun on Twitter? I do what I want. For one thing, we all have finite time and could be using our energy in more useful ways, especially in this political environment. Did you notice the blue ACLU ribbons at the Oscars, or Emma Stone's Planned Parenthood pin? These celebrities were standing up for causes that need our help — so next time, instead of sending a tweet, why not donate as little as $5? (Yes, I know you can do both, but most people don't.)
I 100% understand the people writing Twitter "fanfiction," wishing that some deus ex envelope (A few thousand votes in Michigan! The Electoral College! Finding out it was all a dream!) had turned the unexpected results of the 2016 election on their head. I also understand that drawing parallels between politics and film makes sense. Art reflects life. Which is why it's so significant that Moonlight won Best Picture, particularly in light of the attacks on LGBTQ rights we are witnessing.
This is what we should be discussing: Moonlight's game-changing triumph, what the film can teach us, the fact that it's the lowest budget movie to ever win Best Picture, its sharp writing, its cinematography, and its treatment of women — something on which I have yet to read a think piece, by the way.
There is also room for nuance in our comparisons. Plenty of valid criticism of La La Land exists, but being apolitical doesn't deprive it of artistic merit. Yes, the love story looks different through the lens of 2017. But we can't blame Damien Chazelle for not knowing what was about to hit us in November 2016 when he started making the film years ago. Besides, La La Land and a glass of wine is the perfect recipe for self-care when you're tired of the news pummeling you from all sides.
Imagine a world where we stopped turning everything into a meme. America will be greater if we resist the urge to simplify everything that's meant to be complicated and actually listen to each other. Our political landscape is contentious enough; let's do our movies justice and actually think for a minute before retweeting that tired meme everyone's already seen.