Following the Awards Season in the Current Political Climate

As an ardent film buff, every year without fail, I look forward to the awards season which starts around mid-November and lasts till the night of the Oscars. And even though award shows don’t always get the winners right (how could they, it’s  subjective after all), the whole jazz is extremely fun to follow for film lovers because the discourse is filled with strong film critiques, numerous think pieces about where we are in our culture from the lens of cinema and countless passionate debates.

Also, the fashion. The purely superficial celebrity fashion!

Due to all the hardcore campaigning by studio executives, keeping up with Hollywood around this time becomes fun for an outsider looking in. I imagine it’s how sport fans feel when watching a game.

Having said that, admittedly it has been hard to enjoy the whole brouhaha this year when citizens all over the country have been protesting day and night to save the constitution. Add on to the fact that Australia is burning and Donald Trump appears to be on the brink of announcing war, it’s all making it a little hard to care about how great Scorsese and Tarantino are when millions of people are suffering.

Writing about films, fashion and pop culture – even in a critical way – comes across as frivolous to the general public even on a regular day. But at a time when peaceful protesters are being brutally harassed by the authorities, the work of a pop culture writer can border on distasteful. A few writers who are vocal about their political views have shared their discomfort on social media on writing about celebrity fashion and film reviews during such times.

But is a person supposed to only think about protests and the government all the time? If a person is going about their day job, do they suddenly not care about the world? Of course not. A person still has to wake up, earn a living, feed themselves and socialise. One can continue to follow the banality of a daily routine and still care about the world.

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Fashion and pop culture critics Tom & Lorenzo have said time and again about how they consider their work as a service for people.

“In a time when there’s a news overload and the world seem to be ending, reading or watching something frivolous for a few minutes that has nothing to politics is important. More than ever, we feel like we’re supposed to offer people a respite from the real news; to give them something distracting and mostly pointless to take their minds off weighty and important things for a few minutes,” said Tom Fitzgerald.

Everyone needs a break, to step away from it all – even if just for an hour. That’s the only way to take care of one’s mental health. It might seem selfish, but that’s kind of the point.

Following this year’s awards season has been an interesting journey, to say the least. 2019 was one of the most politically-charged years, but some of the best movies of the decade also came out last year, so it’s an odd seesaw of excitement and anxiety that I assume many film lovers must be feeling at the moment.

As I mentioned earlier, watching movies to better understand and participate in the awards season is kind of a necessity and even though our realities can seem rather extreme and downright unbelievable, it is undoubtedly nice to see some version of my anxiety play out on screen.

I related to Billi, the protagonist of Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, as she had to begrudgingly accept her family’s decisions in the name of tradition. I found the sense of a cultural shift that I’m feeling right now being replicated in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as it showed how strenuous change can be.

Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is literally about four sisters trying to get by during a wartime with an abundance of hope and positivity. Kasi Lemmons’s Harriet moved me with its perseverance. Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit made me laugh at Hitler and Sam Mendes’s 1917 reminded me of the pointlessness of war.

The point is, as frivolous as following the awards season feels right now, it’s also surprisingly the only place I’ve found solace. It also helps give me a better understanding of my surroundings in times when one is struggling to keep hope alive for a better future.

It’s nice to have this place of comfort.

Shivani Yadav is a fashion and film writer.

Featured image credit: Reuters/Mike Blake