Bret Easton Ellis isn’t one to shy away from hot takes and left-of-the-dial criticism. For years now, the legendary author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho has been making waves with his titular podcast, biting his thumb on most of the current trends running throughout pop culture.
Recently, he turned heads for his comments on the chances of Black Panther being nominated for an Oscar, rhetorically asking his listeners, “Does it really deserve one?” It should be noted that he recorded the episode a good five days before the nominations were announced of which the film received seven, including Best Picture.
“No superhero movie has ever gotten a Best Picture nomination,” Ellis argued. “But believe me, Disney is doing everything in its power to make sure this happens. Even though there is no one out here in La La Land I’ve met who thinks Black Panther is that good as a movie. Yet, as a piece of representation, they are supporting it.”
“The entertainment press and the studio is selling the notion that Black Panther is a grand piece of cinematic art that cannot be ignored,” he continued. “And this notion is being shoved down our throats and we can only smile in disbelief. Or perhaps understand that this is just the moment we’re trapped in. A joke, a hoax. It’s all fake news, folks.”
In sum, Ellis concluded, “Representation is so important to them. And with a huge fatuous inclusivity and diversity push. What the most flattering pose might be in the moment — as if inclusivity and diversity have anything to do with awarding a movie’s merits. Yes, this is the culture the Oscars are pushing, and it is rather nauseating.”
Agree or disagree, it’s certainly a bold take, particularly for this era of film criticism. Then again, Ellis’ comments are hardly surprising, especially if you’re a regular listener of his podcast, in which he spends the first half of every episode reading an essay of his that traditionally skewers whatever is going on in Hollywood. It’s actually quite a thrilling listen.
Stream the episode via Patreon. Currently, Ellis is prepping the release of his first book of essays, titled White, which hits stores on April 19th. He’s also working with Hulu on an adaptation of his timeless debut novel, Less Than Zero.