As we approach the 94th Oscars broadcast, more details about things like planned tributes and presenters have begun to be revealed. Some of the things that we now know include the host of the Oscars, comedian Amy Schumer, and one planned inclusion that she says was shot down by producers. This inclusion was an appearance, either live via satellite or via a pre-tape, was an appearance by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. A decision that both sort of makes a small amount of surface sense, but also reeks of American need for politicians and celebrities to occupy the same domain.

A Variety piece explained some of the reported reasons that producers nixed the segment. Schumer gives some insight into the decision on an upcoming episode of Drew Barrymore’s daytime talk show, which is something I’ve just learned exists. Without citing any exact quotes from higher-ups, she suggests it was out of producers’ desire to keep the Oscars as escapist as possible, to “just have this night.”

I have no doubt this is indeed a concern and the attitude of the producers, but I think the question “Why can’t we have Zelenskyy on the Oscars” is a question that shouldn’t need to be asked until after resolving the initial question of “What do the people of Ukraine and Zelenskyy stand to gain from an appearance on the Oscars?” Here, Schumer lays out a value proposition that echoes a common refrain of celebrity activism, the amorphous specter of “raising awareness.” She says, “I actually pitched, I wanted to find a way to have Zelenskyy satellite in or make a tape or something just because there are so many eyes on the Oscars.”

Zelenskyy’s most famous quote of the conflict was his response to an offer of evacuation: “I need ammunition, not a ride.” I would assume that quote applies doubly to exposure. The least of Ukraine’s problems at the current moment is a lack of coverage. This is not a secret war, this is a war with real estate on the front page of every newspaper and site in the nation.

President.gov.ua

He could wear like, a nice dressy plate carrier.

The Oscars have been criticized, and rightly so, for reeking of the complete and thorough suffusion of Hollywood’s high opinion of itself. This pitch only reinforces that. The entertainment industry considers an Oscars invite something that no one could imagine turning down, despite it being not much more than a glorified company holiday party. The idea that the president of a country currently embroiled in a bloody, boots-on-the-ground invasion, one that has watched as hospitals and schools sheltering civilians have been bombed, has the free time, or will make it, to speak to a room full of somberly nodding tuxedoed millionaires is borderline insulting.

The Oscars’ missteps on everything from racism to botched tributes seem on the path to becoming a scheduled yearly gaffe, on top of what is, at its base, a very dumb show. The reason they continue isn’t because these things are done out of malice, or even particular ill-laid plans. The reason they continue is because a culture that increasingly refuses to differentiate public service from celebrity has only enabled a stubborn and self-important industry into believing they are a world power in their own right.

To be able to look into the eyes of a man who has firsthand witnessed piles of bodies made up of people he has promised to protect, while clutching a gift bag worth almost a quarter million dollars, and believe that you are helping HIM, is a sign that the wiring of your brain needs repair.

Top Image: The White House/Pixabay

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