“Boobs” at the Oscars, Confirmation Bias and Why the Hollywood Mentality is so Dangerous

I’ve been accused of being slow on the uptake of the “new” and “fashionable”. To be honest, most of the time, it’s true. I avoid popular culture like the plague, sometimes to my detriment. Sometimes it saves my brain cells (what type of animal is Nicki Minaj anyways?). Yet, the way I see it The Grammys, Emmys, and Oscars have always been a way of hypnotizing consumers and forcing them to buy what the industry calls its “best.” Whatever sells gets on the Grammys, while whatever gets watched get on the Emmys. With the Oscars it’s directors, actors and producers telling the world what the best movies are. It’s like listening to an art dealer tell you why you should pay so much for whatever he’s selling. It’s corruptible, and very often inaccurate. All you have to do is look at the Grammy’s “Best Metal Performance” nominees to notice there is no nod to even popular bands in a music genre that has so many niches it can’t be summed up with five nominees. Especially since KoRn or Corey Taylor’s present gig is guaranteed to be a main contender year after year for no describable reason. Sometimes content is even cut from the songs to make them more industry-acceptable. Killswitch Engage’s “End of Heartache” was hailed as the metalcore/melodic metal song of the decade by fans but what got nominated was the cut down version from the Resident Evil movie. That was the version where the vocal metal elements had been replaced with more melodic singing. It was a totally different song. Beyond that the bands and movie stars seem like they have to be bribed into working. Strange that garage bands write, record, and perform without Axl Rose’s bitch-assitude and his even more ridiculous list of demands he gave to venues pre-show. Who hasn’t shot a ten-minute school video that you’ve edited, written and directed wholly  without a trailer, without any catering, and without assistants” in a Denny’s where you could plug in your laptop?

Before I’m judged as a hipster-douche on a rampage old-man style about anything new-fangled, I want to say that I do enjoy the mainstream. That garage band your neighbor has sucks, and that’s the reason he always hounds you to into going to that one “dive bar” down the street to listen to him. The industry serves to uplift the exceptional, and distribute them. Killswitch Engage is one of my favorite bands and they signed to Roadrunner Records, a major label, a long time ago.  Good directors and actors tend to do flicks that you want to see, so putting them in a high place in the industry is not entirely unjustified. Big studios and big productions that we all love have to have some big-time accommodations to facilitate production. That’s all fine. This is not meant to tear down what any pop culture industry calls “good,” or criticize it’s functional planning and decision making.

Because of my slow uptake, I didn’t take a look at Seth MacFarlane at this year’s Oscars until today. I had heard about his “boobs” song, but it seemed like no big deal. I found it today on a list from Buzzfeed titled “9 Sexist Things that Happened at the Oscars,” and decided to watch it. It was hilarious. It was perfect clowning around for a stuffy awards show, and dished on Hollywood in a very gratifying way. It was something that took the celebrities down a notch, at the least. It reminded them they’re human (though sometimes I’m not so sure). It’s an entire song about the topless scenes in movies. The reaction of the crowd, the shots of MacFarlane singing was interspersed with them, were uproarious to me at first. Naomi Watts goes completely dead-faced and whiter after carrying an obvious smile. Jennifer Lawrence even gave a thumbs up to her lack of topless-ness on film. Generally, it seemed like people there were laughing. But, for me, that was basically ruined by a shot to Charlize Theron who was as amused (she was not amused) as Billy Crystal behind her shaking his head in disapproval. Really Billy? I saw City Slickers; you can’t say anything about this. Even worse, the song enraged so many actresses they flew to twitter after the show to discuss the incredible sexism. The Oscars producers even had to defend the piece as “satire,” aka the code-word for  “don’t blame us.”

Now, other things Seth MacFarlane said during the ceremony were sexist to me, and some others were in what I’d call bad taste. I wouldn’t write or say things like that, but this is America: you can say what you want. And seriously Hollywood, you just got over Ricky Gervais, Three-Six Mafia, and Jon Stewart. Those Dolce and Gabbana G-strings really get twisted. Truly, it’s not enough to just dismiss statements as “just a joke.” Even with comedy you’re going to affect people, and you have to deal with it. Nevertheless, there is this amazing cognitive dissonance on display from the actresses. They did actually get naked on camera. It’s not a forced thing, like rape. It’s something that these actresses went along with, and did. So when it’s placed in front of their faces at the Oscars, and they are so incensed they fly to the twitter-verse to fight, what is it that they’re saying? Are they remorseful? A million dollars cures a lot of ill-feelings. Do they feel they are being insulted or embarrassed unduly? This is Hollywood, there was never any decorum or dignity. Barring the possibility that they were forced, which is bullshit, what can they possibly say that would make MacFarlane’s song be actually sexist? Are we not supposed to look at boobs? Tell all the people (read: dudes) on the internet that you’re not supposed to look at boobs. I bet many of them, from memory, could recall every topless scene Seth sang about in real time. Feminists would tell you the actresses getting on camera probably promote sexism more than MacFarlane’s song ever did, and that’s not to mention all the people who paid to see the movies they were topless in, in a theater. Wait, actresses actually put themselves on film knowing it was going to be widely circulated? Willingly? Then they get mad because someone else was talking about it seeing it?

That is what is so completely nonsensical about all this. When the films were made Every Single Person on the film wanted it to sell well and do well in the theaters, meaning more viewers. That is the point the studios see in making them. Every person that pays to see it makes them all, at least, richer and more famous. Maybe that’s why they want tits on film, there’s more money in it. And MacFarlane never even insinuated that there was money in boobs, though that’s quite realistic too (ask Vivid entertainment). He literally only lists the times actresses have shown their boobs on film. Am I insane to think that if you didn’t want the publicity of being naked on film you shouldn’t have done it? Again, what is so sexist about this song?

The answer is nothing. The answer is that apparently Hollywood is so hypocritical that they do one thing, on film for everyone to see, and then say another, on film for everyone to see. Richard Nixon did something like that and it cost him his job. Apparently reality doesn’t exist in Hollywoodland or Washington D.C. in a very similar way. But why is this a big issue? Are you drunk and ranting again Pete? (No and yes are my answers, but I can’t remember the order).

Over the last few days  two boys, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, in Steubenville, Ohio have been convicted of raping a passed-out drunk girl, and it has turned into a real news story. Particularly because CNN’s coverage has actually been partial to the perpetrators. Seriously. These two boys, in front of other people, sexually assaulted a girl who was by all means incapacitated and then sent pictures out of it. But apparently that’s not enough to draw the ire of the news media. That is saying nothing of other armchair assholes who strongly believe the victim did it to herself. But how can the victim be blamed? Here it is again: These two boys, in front of other people sexually assaulted a girl who was incapacitated and then sent pictures out about it. It doesn’t matter if anyone was drinking underage. If illegally consuming alcohol and rape shared a 100% cause and effect relationship we’d be going to sexually segregated schools. But if anyone was so worried about aspiring high school football stars ruining their careers with rape why wasn’t it the boys? Why are they not expected to be responsible? How could this is all somehow be her fault? Why is it that all mention of the victim’s suffering is grafted over by the now on-TV drama of two football players?

Precisely because it is on-TV drama. No actress in Hollywood was embarrassed about her topless scenes walking into the Oscars (most of ’em would’ve been topless if they sneezed in their dresses) but they’ll call Seth MacFarlane a sexist now that he’s said it. No news outlet would’ve called a rape victim, in any circumstance, the cause of it before the perpetrators made good television. Is that not an obviously completely corrupt mentality? Blame is laid by self-interested, very likely morally bankrupted parties backed up by a mislead mob who talk so loud they never listen. If Mays and Richmond wanted to have a life, maybe (I’m going out on a limb here) they shouldn’t have raped anyone. Simple. If Hollywood actresses don’t want to be confronted with their nudity, maybe they should have kept their shirts on. Simple. Where in the world would anyone go about blaming someone else for something they did? Does responsibility for your actions pass to someone else after you do them?

It is not dramatic to say that such is the state of popular culture today. After the music industry cranks out Disney Clone, Gaga shithead, wannabe Gaga shithead, and “banality of edgy” artists all making music that sounds completely the same, they then surround a person with them, finding every way to screw them out of money for over-priced “music,” only to sue them when the consumer finds a way around it to what they actually want: quality media at a realistic price. The RIAA and MPAA don’t go after kids for six and seven-figure settlements because they’re protecting their artists, or the “music.” That’s obvious. But blaming a kid because you’re so convoluted you think a 9-Track CD is worth $20 minimum is ridiculous. Bob Dylan’s new live album on iTunes for $10 is not a deal or attractive, but some “genius” must have put it up there. I saw the new Blu-Ray version of Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger, my absolutely favorite comedy, at a Best Buy for $15 the other day (that was even a reduced price). I’m a fan and I wouldn’t have paid $10 for it. But I’m apparently to blame when I want to watch some classic Arnold slap-stick, and have to download it rather than pay the $5 for it that I would. Complicity to steal is one thing, and is right there with profiting off stolen work, but there being no realistic choice to consume for a consumer is another. But let’s blame everyone but ourselves, even though we designed and implemented everything.

The danger of thinking you are the only correct person on the planet, blaming everyone else and radiating responsibility away from yourself, cannot be overstated. Ask a Holocaust survivor what Adolf Hitler’s self-righteous obsession did to them. In a world where every single thing you consume can be tailored to you and your new bath obsession because you visibly liked “bathing” on Facebook makes this even more dangerous. Surrounded by the same crap with no criticism or review allowed in and your self-righteousness will abound. That’s called confirmation bias. It’s as easy as sealing yourself off from critics. Marginalizing people who hate your music as “haters” and you’ll think someone actually wants to hear your animal sex sounds remix. Kill all your critics and you’ll be a short, fat Korean dictator surrounded by people that hate you and want to kill you. Nonsensical logic will abound just as quickly. Pretty soon you’ll be blaming your plates for holding enough chicken McNuggets to give you diabetes in one sitting-

Shit, we’re already there aren’t we?