Ledes on Leap Day
"Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, 'We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.' -- Chris Rock," writer/photographer Christina Tkacik quotes the comedian host from his speech at last night's Academy Awards (at 11,500 enthusiastic shares so far). It's certainly undeniable that the 2016 Oscars repeatedly drew from themes of diversity and social justice, starting with an opening monologue from Rock that certainly did not shy away from addressing the controversy surrounding the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations: "When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short," Rock said, in one of the most powerful moments from his opener. Admittedly, a joke about Asians and child labor fell pretty flat, as did #WhoIsStaceyDash dishing out some irony to wish everyone a happy Black History Month after she'd called for it to be canceled. "So with all the talk of diversity at the #Oscars, it was really odd to see that awkward Asian joke," admits CNET's Roger Cheng.
Then there were the two wins by “Spotlight,” every journalist's favorite contender for Best Picture, which followed the Boston Globe’s past investigation into child sex abuse by Catholic priests. "The 'Spotlight' win is a victory for the movie crew and for the Globe, but it's also a victory for journalism," concludes the Globe's Jon Chesto. "'Spotlight' victim says best-picture win a new level of validation," adds Houston Chronicle's James Drew. Extra special: the actual journalists portrayed in the film got to take a turn on the red carpet. Lady Gaga also brought many audience members to tears with her performance of an Oscar-nominated song about sexual assault, bringing real survivors on-stage, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who received a rarely given standing ovation when he finally won an Oscar for Best Actor after being nominated 6 times, chose to make his speech about acknowledging and ending climate change. And then The Onion rewarded him by joking that he kissed "the Bear" before receiving his award.
With all of that going on, you'd think the 88th Academy Awards would have impressive ratings, right? Yeah, wrong. In fact, they set a new record for lack of viewership. "Despite controversy, or perhaps because of it, the Oscars hit an 8-year low," points out TV critic Matthew Gilbert. Also, please enjoy all of these famous, tuxedoed men in aisle seats refusing to clap for a female Oscars winner in jeans (that might not be the real correlation, but it's pretty weird optics, guys). "Inarritu refusing to clap and side-eyeing Jenny Beavan is the new Leo/Gaga moment at the Golden Globes," decides freelancer Laurence Barber. Check out the complete list of nominees and winners here.
Now let us move from prizes to pols. Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, so cue total panic as the the GOP race goes in the gutter and the divided party embarks on a desperate mission to stop Donald Trump (and you won't believe the kicker attached to that last New York Times link, by the way). "Trump is tearing apart and possibly ending the Republican Party and not even evil genius Karl Rove can stop it," summarizes VICE's Danny Gold. Perhaps they should be consulting Last Week Tonight's John Oliver, who shredded the Trump brand in the most scathing segment we've yet seen from him. "John Oliver's magnificent Trump/Drumpf segment shows that to ridicule him well you have to partly take him seriously," observes NYT's James Poniewozik. Simultaneously the Washington Post reports that Trump Mortgage failed and here’s what that says about him. Still, Gov. Chris Christie recently split with his past to back Trump, even as former senator Tom Coburn endorsed Marco Rubio and slammed the billionaire. Meanwhile, Joe Scarborough says Trump's recent "feigned ignorance" about the KKK raises disturbing questions while Philip Bump brings up the fact that Trump's dad was arrested after a Klan riot once -- but Trump blames a "very bad earpiece" for the whole sordid saga. Then over in that corner, you have Gawker, gleefully fooling Trump into retweeting Benito Mussolini.
By the way, Hillary Clinton also remains dominant on this eve of Super Tuesday.