Like many of you, I love hearing my favorite actors, actresses, or directors talking about their work, their passion for their profession and or their history of where they came from and how they got where they are in the entertainment industry. In one case a movie and television music composer, Michael Giacchinio. In most cases I have no idea who the nominees are in this category but I did recognize his name because I had watched all the “behind the scenes” features on the season DVD’s for the television show, “Alias” for which he was the music composer for and was in one of those featurettes. But it was his acceptance speech for when he won the Oscar award for Best Music/Original Score for the movie “Up” that was particularly inspiring to me and I talked about in my blog entry for that 2010 Oscar Award show. Or better yet, watch it on YouTube.
So if a couple of my favorite actors, let’s say like Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner were at this years’ Oscars and as presenters – not as award winning speeches – and talked about how they grew up dreaming of being on that stage and working in the industry and the craft that they were so passionate about. And then saying, “And like everyone in this room, and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers. We grew up dreaming of one day working in movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood. And dreams are the foundation of America.”
That would be having me voicing out loud toward the television, “Yeah!” Of course, I am a dreamer! I have the same passion for working at writing and directing movies as they do in acting in movies. The same as so many others out there. “We are dreamers.”
These words were spoken at this years’ Academy Awards by Oscar winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o, as she was presenting awards with stand-up comedian, actor and this year became an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay, Kumail Nanjiani. She is a Mexican born Kenyan. Her parents are Kenyan and lived in Mexico City when she was born. She lived in both countries before coming to America for college to study drama. He was born in Pakistan and moved here when he was 18 to attend college. He has since become an American citizen. I tell you of their nationality and being immigrants because the Academy Award show writers clearly wanted that to be known as they have prepared some of what they are going to say from the teleprompter before presenting the award for Best Achievement in Production Design. There are some video on the internet of this presentation but most have been taken down by the Academy. Even the videos they put up on their own site! So for you and future readers, here is the full transcript of their prepared text (plus some reactions) at the Oscars.
LUPITA NYONG’O: Good evening. We are the two actors you keep hearing about but whose names you have trouble pronouncing. (light laughter)
KUMAIL NANJIANI: Actually, I have to come clean. Kumail Nanjiani is my stage name. My actual given Pakistani name is Chris Pine. (Laughter) So you can imagine how annoyed I was when the other — when the “white” Chris Pine showed up. The “real” Chris Pine.
LUPITA: We are also immigrants. I’m from Kenya.
KUMAIL: And I’m from — (some applause and yells) ‘Kenya is in the house.’ And I am from Pakistan and Iowa. (light laughter but enough to interrupt Kumail but he moves on) Two places that nobody in Hollywood can find on a map. (sporadic laughter)
LUPITA: And like everyone in this room, and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers. We grew up dreaming of one day working in movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood. And dreams are the foundation of America.
KUMAIL: And so (interrupted by applause) — to all the dreamers out there, we stand with you. (more applause) Now, the nominees for achievement in production design.
I am not voicing out loud but I am still thinking, “Yeah”! After all I am a dreamer and I am happy they are standing with me. And for all of us “dreaming of one day working in movies.” That is what they said. “And like everyone in this room, and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers.” Yes. Yes. YES! We are! I love it. Not only everyone in that room – the Oscar nominees and their guests – but everyone at home watching this show – mostly movie lovers are all dreamers. They are recognizing that they are not the only ones out here, or in there that are dreamers and are worthy to be working on making our dreams come true. They did it. Surely we can too! Yeah again! Turn off the lights – we are good to go!
That is not what they said? Or not what they meant? They are lying? Playing us? What did they mean? Well, anybody living in this country knows they are playing us and they don’t mean what they are saying. But for those that do not know let me say how they are taking us down this road to make a subtle but not so subtle political statement. With the changing of the case of one letter in the final sentence, a lowercase “d” to an uppercase “D” to say “…to all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you.” The “Dreamers” are the commonly referred nickname for the recipients of the 44th President, Barak Obama’s executive order in 2012, the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)” that suspends deportation for a 2-year period for about 800,000 children or were children when they were brought to the United States illegally. After the 2-year period they can reapply for another 2-year period and so on. Any illegal immigration issue is a political firestorm here in the United States. And I do not want to get into the details. And I do not want to take sides on this issue here. This is not the place and therefore I do want to say that the Academy Award show writers, producers and the using of these two legal immigrants in making this a political statement is wrong. That is not the place to take a side either. Despite that a quick internet search of “Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani” shows that all of the top results are articles giving praise for their supporting the “Dreamers” at the Academy Award show. But is that right? They presented with the words “we are dreamers.”
Changing the Definition of Everyone
How many of us are watching from home? How many of us are working on, have been working on, and will continue to be working on making our dreams come true? We are the dreamers that they spoke of in their presentation. Even as they were speaking it – I felt that they were going to make it a political statement and I would feel betrayed by the words, “And like everyone in this room, and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers.” There is nothing political in this statement. And there should not be anything political in this statement. Nor should it be in the final sentence, “And so to all the dreamers out there, we stand with you.” So how does it become a political statement as the Google results about this Oscar presentation prove that it is? They should have said what they meant by stating, “And so to all the DACA Dreamers out there, we stand with you.” But that would be out of context with what they just said about “everyone” being dreamers.
So how did it become “Dreamer” instead of dreamer? Being a dreamer and knowing so many dreamers that are “dreaming of one day working in the movies” and having those in Hollywood to say they will “stand with you” would mean a lot! It is one that I feel strong about. I have been working on fulfilling my dreams of being a filmmaker since the late 1980’s. A handful of years before I became a paraplegic. And one that has been the focus of this blog since I started it 12 years ago in 2006. Dreaming about a day when people with a disAbility, the largest minority in America, and the most under-represented and most excluded in American movies and television, will be given a little more respect and inclusion in Hollywood. —– So for them to change the context from dreamer to “Dreamer” they need to change the repeated word of “everyone” into just those that were brought into this country illegally. Thereby the inspiring words that Lupita and Kumail said do not apply to the actual “everyone,” like me or the millions of others watching. They apply just to the ones who during their childhood were brought into this country illegally.
They are lying about “everyone” or “dreamers” for this to be in their political context. Why do they have to make this political? And in the process they have once again dismissed my dreams of people with a disAbility, the over 56,700,000 American dreamers being authentically represented in movies. My dreams of being a successful paraplegic filmmaker hiring a paraplegic actor to portray my paraplegic character. And remember as I said at the beginning this is coming from Academy Award Presenters scripted words and not Oscar winners’ speeches. That would be more personal. This is about the show and the Presenters are talking to the audience. Especially these words as this blog entry is talking about. They need to keep what they are saying in context. Say what you mean. If you mean “Dreamers” say “DACA Dreamers” from the beginning. Don’t twist it all around so that my dreams and all of those who are “dreaming of one day working in the movies” are being hijacked for a political statement of “Dreamers.” So Academy, the presenters, the applauding audience members, Hollywood in general – why not just say what you mean? Why do you have to throw “everyone” else under the bus in order to make a political statement at what is supposed to be a fun and entertaining awards show?
Next up – ”Oscar’s 90th – Segment 3 – Coco for Coco(a) Puffs”