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Jewish World Review March 16, 2001 / 21 Adar, 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Acting Politically Correct -- THE Academy Awards show will be on this Sunday (I’m still a little bugged that they changed it from Monday. I don’t know why, but it seemed more exciting on Mondays somehow) and last week the Screen Actors Guild had their awards show. Let’s focus on the SAG awards for a second. For quite some time now the Guild has done away with the “actress” designation preferring to use the more politically correct term, “Female Actor.” The categories are “Best Male Actor” and “Best Female Actor.” If the purpose was to have equal designations, I suppose they could have just as easily gone the other way and made the categories “Best Male Actress” and “Best Female Actress.” You know, I actually like that better. They really should have consulted me first.

The fact is, if they truly wanted to address all actors fairly, equally, and politically correctly, then they should do away with the “male” and “female” gender labels altogether. Let’s be gender nonspecific and just have one “Best Acting” award given to the one actor, male or female, who brought in the best performance for that year. Listen, if you want gender equality then let’s really have it.

And while we’re on the subject, aren’t the designations “male” and “female” separatist by definition? Men and women, boys and girls, lads and lassies, guys and dolls -- all separatist and therefore unequal by their very nature. Why not do away with those sexist terms, not only in acting, but in normal daily life? Just call people “persons” without any reference to gender at all. No differentiation whatsoever. Instead of the men’s room and women’s room, there would be one large people’s room (or person’s room, if you prefer). Clothing would be devoid of any gender references, too -- just different sizes and different styles. And let’s lose the “children” labels as well. After all, children are just people that happen to be younger and smaller, right?

For quite awhile now, the P.C.A.M.P.A.S. (Politically Correct Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences) has used the phrase, “...and the award goes to...” to replace that bad old judgmental term, “...and the winner is...” That way they can have their contest without actually having to refer to the winner of that contest as the winner -- even though that is exactly who the award recipient is...the winner. But, you see, the word “winner” is a negative word because it makes the other four contestants, by process of elimination, losers -- even though that is exactly what they become when they don’t win! AAARRRGGG!!!

But getting back to those best acting awards, I believe it’s high time that they be completely, utterly 100% all inclusive. Yes, only one “Best Acting” award a year should be awarded -- but that category should not be exclusive to human beings. I think the award should take into account non-human performances also. Remember the drunken horse in Cat Ballou? Even Lee Marvin, when accepting his Oscar for that picture, said that the horse really should have gotten the award.

How many times have you seen an animal upstage a human actor in a movie? Plenty. Is it so far-fetched to think that in any one year, perhaps the only creature who would truly deserve the acting award might be an animal? Think of all those great dog actors like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Asta, and Beethoven. Think of Trigger. Gentle Ben. And don’t tell me that Johnny Weissmuller’s acting was any better than the chimpanzee in those Tarzan films.

Why stop with animals? Plants are living things too. Shouldn’t Audrey II, the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, have at least been nominated for an Oscar? Or the field in Field of Dreams? After all, the field played a part in that movie every bit as important as the human actors. Heck, it even got the title role. And what about the mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of The Third Kind? Deserving of at least a supporting nomination, don’t you think?

I don’t believe best acting awards should include animated, stop-action, or computer generated characters, however. They aren’t real. Besides, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere -- otherwise everything would be eligible for a best acting award. And that just wouldn’t be fair.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby