By Laura Medina
In the fourth year in a row, whenever Vanity Fair Magazine descends upon Hollywood during Oscar Week (the same month it releases its Hollywood Issue), the elegant folks running the Vanity Fair Social Club engine think of everything.
Underneath all that gloss of free healthy, gourmet meals and artisanal snacks, the beauty room for quick blow-outs and makeup tune-ups, the Stella Artois bar, and the Chrysler car service for five-minute radius lunch and drugstore errand runs, the older, more established, the more mature, and the more intellectual media aren't afraid to remind the fresher, younger media that Vanity Fair is a social issues magazine.
In the four days of Oscar Week, Vanity Fair isn't afraid to tackle the nagging issue of why Oscar voters are out of synch with the rest of mainstream movie audience; how Amy Winehouse was treated by the press; and Patricia Arquette standing up for equal pay for equal work, as a single mom raising a son.
Over two days of Vanity Fair Social Club, established Gen-X movie studio and production company executives had to explain to a mostly Millennial and Gen-X media audience (with a few scattering of Baby Boomer media) that the Oscar voters aren't racist in failing to nominated "Straight Outta Compton" as Best Picture. They're just out of touch and out of the movie's demographics.
"And the Oscar Goes To: Award Prediction Panel Presented by Chrysler," discussion was populated by a panel deep in emerging, established Gen-X media executives ruling mainstream entertainment and media right now: Katey Rich, Hollywood Editor, VanityFair.com, Panelists: Dave Karger, Fandango; Franklin Leonard, CEO and Founder of The Blacklist; Bladimiar Norman, SVP Digital Marketing, Skydance Media; Anne Thompson, Indiewire.
Then the continuation of #OscarIsNotSoWhite continued onto the nex day discussion of "Writing the Story of N.W.A.," a Question and Answer with Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman, Nominees of Best Original Screenplay.
"Straight Outta Compton," one of the most successful films of the year with over $150 million in domestic box office.
Over two days of explaining why the Oscar voters missed nominating "Straight Outta of Compton," the first panelists explained that the majority of Oscar voters are Baby Boomers liberals who campaigned for the first wave of social justice but can't relate to the emergence and the metamorphosis of rap to a multi-million dollar industry of Hip-Hop, the cultural shift of Hip-Hop moving from East Coast New York to the sunnier but just as mean, sun-drenched streets of West Coast Compton. For the mostly Gen-X executive panelists, rap turning into Hip-Hop, the realities of lower-class Los Angeles rising up against the glossy Hollywood image, and emergence of Los Angeles being on par with New York as an Hip-Hop capital, the movie "Straight Outta Compton" encapsulate all of that...if you're Gen-X or Millennial but goes over the Academy voters' Baby Boomer heads.
The Gen-X executive panelists defended that these Oscar voters are flooded with DVD screeners and just don't have the time to sit down, relax, and watch the movie.
One of the panelists told this story of an woman Oscar voters (who shall remain nameless), who out of the goodness of her own heart, voted "12 Years A Slave" for Best Picture, despite the fact she never the time to watch it.
So yes, the Oscar voters aren't #OscarIsSoWhite.
The failure to vote "Straight Outta Compton" as Best Picture, is more of a generational gap, a better case of ageism, lacking the awareness of current social issues that are relevant to current society at large.
What started out as a London boy shooting a film about a London girl has grown into a loving tribute to the dearly departed "Amy," the Amy Winehouse documentary.
Asif Kapadia, the director, "Amy" will later win an Oscar for "Best Documentary" four days later. Reflecting back, all the Vanity Fair Social Club attendees were swelling with pride that an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker took time of his busy schedule to sit down and emote profiling the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse.
At this Vanity Fair event, Asif talked about the press' guilt about driving Amy to her demise, putting her in a pressure cooker to look "glossy" when, in fact, it drove her mad.
The purpose behind "Amy" documentary is to show the real Amy, not trainwreck that the media portrayed her to be.
It was nothing more than a loving tribute to a talented girl.
Speaking of being in a pressure cooker, Hollywood legacy and veteran, Patricia Arquette used Vanity Fair Social Club as a platform for Equal Pay for Equal Work, "Equal Means Equal."
She used the Vanity Fair stage to dispel what it means to be an "Hollywood Legacy."
Sure, Patricia and her siblings may be third-generation actors but didn't mean they were rich. In reality, they were a dirt-poor large family who struggled to make ends meet.
She "de-glamorized" it.
Patricia Arquette talked about how her mom stayed in a poor, abusive marriage because she needed a man to support her and the family when Patricia's mom explained to her starving brood, that mom cannot a family of five children as a single mom.
Well, Patricia one-upped that, when she became a single mom at age 20. She remembered the day she realized she was pregnant with her son is when she filming the movie, "The Last Exit to Brooklyn," as a character who was going to be beaten up then gang-raped in the movie. It was then, that it hit upon her, this is how she's gonna raised her son, a sexually-exploited actress. Patricia relied on acting because that's the only thing she knows.
After long days and nights on sets playing degraded characters then having necessary managers, lawyers, and a talent agent taking their commissions right off the top, Patricia had to tell her son that they only have instant mac n cheese for dinner.
Patricia pretty much destroyed that early image of Nineties Hollywood Hipster on that stage.
Once she was over played degraded, hyper-sexualized movie characters, Patricia proudly stated she was one of the first movie actresses to cross-over into television because she respected the crime-fighting character in "Medium" and leading television wages paid steady and good to support her son.
Over years of acting, struggling then being established, Patricia Arquette wasn't happy she was paid less for the same type and same amount (if not more) as her male colleagues...as a single mom.
Weary and fatigued, she took a risk used last year's Oscar Awards to directly address Equal Pay for Equal Work, as soon as she won "Best Supporting Actress."
Sure, she admitted, she risked losing jobs over that but Patricia is proud that she's a 47 years-old actress with a solid, loyal following of fans who will follow her anywhere. How's that for social media?!
Patricia Arquettte's discussion for Equal Pay for Equal Work was never about male-bashing. She thought it was very courtly of Bradley Cooper to reduce his pay down to women's wages to show solidarity to his fellow women actors. Very gentlemanly of him.
Vanity Fair Social Club dives deep, approaching social issues reflected in movies or fail to be reflected during Oscar Week.