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86th Academy Awards Lessons For The 21st Century

The centerpiece event of the entertainment industry calendar year just went down. The champagne is still popping, Lupita Nyong’o still is trending- as she has been for the better part of the year and Twitter has recovered from that Ellen DeGeneres blow. From us, it is an unreserved congratulations to all the deserved winners from the 86th Academy awards.

Chinua Achebe Quote in Things Fall Apart: “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

Did you see that coming? By some out-of this-world happening, all movie critics are in agreement that whoever won on the night, The 86th Academy Awards, irrevocably deserved to! Well, is this ground for the conspiracy theorists to practice their art? Possibly. But for now, all conspiracy theorists are probably occupied by the disappearance of Malaysia Airline flight 370.

Nonetheless,even if the theorists were to attack in droves, there’s some shine about this 2014 Oscars that whatever the haters say, can’t be gleamed off. So what exactly is this glitter? Put it another way: what is to remember about the 86th Academy Awards?

We live in a World…

Well, everything. To borrow one of Arsene Wenger, favorite phrases: “we live in a world”…… We live in a world where memory is a species wide problem. A world where anything more than 160 characters or a few bytes of video is often too much a bother.

The rising prevalence of this rare case of a pandemic of ADHD complicated by chronic, global-antero-retrograde amnesia (just invented a new disease for DSM VI) is not unique to the 21st century as history will tell us, but rather an enticing challenge to some of us who are determined to correct this anomaly by word, deed, craft and cold evidence.

Anyone who ascribes to some ideals of distributive justice ought loud these earnest efforts. Consider this: too many bad things, despicable shameful things are the building blocks of the very bedrock upon which humanity stands today: Wars, poverty, slavery the list goes on. Social commentators say part of the problem that feeds this revisionism has been the proliferation of media peddling mostly garbage.

In this murk of misinformation and outright lies, it escapes our attention that Syria has been at war for three years now, so that generations of humanity from womb to tomb know no better than the despair of war. You’ll agree with me that the word is replete with such sorry examples. Yet, it shouldn’t be that way as humanity has never been better equipped, better resource, to deal with challenges that face us.

Shame of the 21st century in slavery

Fear not 21st century citizen. Because once every 50 years, comes along Polly who unlike in the movie puts up a convincing show. Serving up a piece that charms the world, making piss of all the voraciously peddled non-issues, bringing to light issues real enough to effect global change.

Though virtually all the victors in the 86th Academy Awards bear this quality, in this commentary, we confine our critique to seminal moments about the star of the night , 12 years a slave, that define, explain, characterize and attempt to embody life in the 21st century.In this mold, the 86th Academy Award shall be remembered as The Oscars that gave us the excellent work that is the 2014 Best Picture Winner.

As if on cue, though probably unrelated, Caribbean Nations — countries that were carved purposely for the facilitation of salve trade – – have been building consensus on adopting a plan seeking slave trade reparations from their European slave masters: the likes of Britain, France and the Netherlands.

The reparations are intended to advance these countries by enabling them leap-acquire 21st century technology, in an attempt to leverage the socioeconomic losses suffered by generations upon generations. Losses in dignity suffered at the gain of the slave masters, as occasioned by the slave trade powered agrarian and industrial revolutions which formed the basis of subsequent economic revolutions.

As the acclaimed CNN Freedom Project illustrates, in the 21st century, slavery remains real. A commentator on a past episode of  Inside Story  on Aljazeera, put it best:

slavery was not abolished, it was regulated


Critics punching holes into the likely sucess of the calls for reparation for slavery lend credence to their skepticism by pointing out that a century after slavery was said to have been abolished, not one of the perpetrators has offered to the victims an official apology.

Mind you, an apology that costs nothing!

Beyond the artistic power of the film as a voice of the forgotten, the 86th Academy Awards served to amplify their cry. A cry exemplified by 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen’s- -the first black director to be feted by the Academy Awards- – acceptance speech. Part of which read:

Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup. I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.Steve McQueen

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