The Oscars 2021 + society – What do they say about us?

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This year’s Academy Awards (2021) were one of the most unique ceremonies we’ve seen in a long time. That might have something to do with the weird year that proceeded it. Still, this time around the Oscars said some interesting things about American society, and that’s what I want to get at today: What did these Oscars say about us? (Read about what other movies reveal about society in At the Movies) Just like the Covid-19 pandemic, the awards were a little, umm, odd. Despite its drift away from conventions, it was still a groundbreaking show for a few reasons. Let’s take a look, sh-shall we?

a dog with sunglasses lying in a hammock, representing the more relaxed mood of the 2021 Oscars
Cool and relaxed, just like this year’s Oscars – by Linda Segerfeldt

Less Exclusive, More Chill

Without getting too deep into the technical side of what made this year’s Oscars special, one thing you notice right off the bat is the more relaxed atmosphere. The awards themselves took place in Union Station, LA’s biggest transportation hub. The feel of it was a place where people of all kinds and classes pass through on their daily commutes. Downtown Los Angeles is also a lot more “of the people” than Hollywood traditionally is. This made the overall vibe more laid back and less exclusive than the usual Hollywood ceremonies. We also didn’t really see a Red Carpet or all the fancy fettering of previous shows. This made us (me, at least) feel more at home. After all, between that theater in Hollywood and Union Station, the station’s the only one I’ve ever been to.

Besides the actual venue, the whole mood seemed to be more relaxed. Because of coronavirus, there weren’t tons of people all grouped up into the station hall. With fewer attendees, the mood of the ceremonies felt more friendly. Even for me at home, I felt like I was more a part of the awards than in previous years, and a big reason why was the smaller group in attendance.

Of course, another reason why is that my people were represented! Yep, we had Questlove at DJ and interacting with the crowd. Lil Rel was making jokes all over the place. We even got to see Glenn Close getting wild, shaking her tail feather. The awards seemed a lot more intimate and laid back, which shows part of what people are craving right now. I speak for Americans, but people around the world, I’m sure, are craving less isolation and exclusivity. We want more inclusion, and we want things we can laugh at, something that represents us. With this year’s Oscars, that’s what we got!

Representation

Continuing on the thread of inclusion, the awards this year were highly inclusive of minorities. Well, at least as compared to prior years. They had black people nominated, Asian people, dead people, people who aren’t even American, Muslim people, Jewish people, and Christians (I’m sure). There were women nominated in roles that women rarely ever win or get nominated for. Specifically for women, two of them contested for big awards like directing, and (SPOILER) one of them won! Okay, that’s great, but let’s go back to those ethnicities.

The woman I was talking about that won, Chloé Zhao, is a walking glass-ceiling breaker. Not only is she the second woman to ever win best director, but she is also Chinese (by ethnicity) and Chinese! (by nationality) That means not only is she an ethnic minority, but a foreign woman who came across the sea and still won the award. That’s what I’m talking about. Other East Asians had success this year too. Steven Yeun of Korean background was the first East Asian contestant for best actor, and Youn Yuh-jung, a Korean actress from the same movie, won best supporting actress.

She is part of another diverse group this year. Actors in their “silver years” made up a good chunk of nominees and winners. Gotta represent for the 60+, right Anthony Hopkins? He ran up against another Brit, Riz Ahmed, one of the few Muslims and persons of South Asian ancestry to ever contest in the awards.

Diversity had become a big issue in the Oscars since the whole #OscarsSoWhite in 2016. Well, it had been an issue since forever, but it was finally changed after the hashtag was made. The success of foreign films like Parasite and black leading movies Get Out have opened the way for more and more diversity in the Academy Awards in these last few years. These movies’ styles have been loved by filmmakers and moviegoers for years. Finally, they are being recognized in the most prestigious arenas.

Resting in Power

There was a lot to celebrate this year at the Oscars, but one thing still brought us down to earth for reflection. Every year there are tons of filmmakers that pass away and get mentioned in that sad montage in the middle of the awards. This year was another heartbreaking year of filmmakers that had to go, though there were some really big ones that left.

To remember just a few like the legendary Sean Connery and the infamous composer Ennio Morricone, we also had to say our goodbyes to Chadwick Boseman. He is the one that has had the most impact in popular film in the most recent years, and so he’ll probably be the most missed in the public eye for now. Still, so many huge talents in cinema left us this year, but the montage was at least lightened up. Instead of a slow sad song like usual, they played an upbeat song by Stevie Wonder this year. That made the whole section of the ceremony feel more lively like a celebration of great artists. We’ve had enough of crying and death! Now is time to celebrate life, am I right?

Nomadland

The last thing I want to talk about is Nomadland. It’s a pretty peculiar movie on its own. The movie had almost an entirely unprofessional cast, by which I mean they weren’t established actors yet. The documentary real-world style of the movie brought everyone down to the dirt once again. Besides the talented Zhao, McDormand, and their crew, the movie’s message was also special.

Taking place mostly outside under big skies, it fed into a desire many people have to get out and explore the world again. I don’t know about you, but after Covid, I’m not trying to stay cooped up inside the house again. I think the fact that this movie won best picture — and a whole lot of other awards — represented how much people are craving independence, freedom, and the big open sky. It’s a time to break free from lockdown and smell the fresh air, hit that road one more time. With the vaccine heavy underway, many of us are on that road and tasting that dream once again.

That’s all I’ve got to say. What did you guys think of this year’s Oscars? Was it really a unique ceremony, or just like all the others? Let me know what you think. And don’t forget to look around and read more posts here on Cult-Surf. You never know what you’ll discover 😉 Peace!

“It Was a Good Day” [Ice Cube] – lyrics for English students

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Videos down below–>

Break ’em

  • In slang, to “break someone off” can mean to make them like something. It’s like Cube is saying to his DJ, “Let’s make my audience love this one.” “Break” can also have a violent meaning in another context.

Yeah

Just wakin’ up in the morning, gotta thank God

  • *I have to thank God

I don’t know, but today seems kinda odd

No barking from the dog, no smog

  • “Smog” is the collective pollution from vehicles, fumes, and other waste in the air. Los Angeles is famous for having lots of smog.

And Momma cooked a breakfast with no hog

  • “Hog” is another word for pig. This has to do with Islam for Cube, since Muslims usually don’t eat pork.

I got my grub on, but didn’t pig out

  • To “get your grub on” is to eat well, since “grub” is another word for food. To “pig out” is to eat too much, more than you need to. This is a play on the “hog” line before.

Finally got a call from a girl I wanna dig out

  • “Dig out” can mean find out more about something or someone. Here, his meaning is probably more sexual.

Hooked it up for later as I hit the door

  • To “hook something up” is to plan for it to happen or to make it. “I hooked up some eggs for you this morning.” “We need to hook up a date, you and me this weekend?” Also, he is not literally hitting the door. This just means to leave. A similar phrase is “hit the road.”

Thinkin’, “Will I live another twenty-four?”

  • As in twenty-four hours.

I gotta go ’cause I got me a drop-top

  • *I have to go because I have… “Drop-top” is a convertible car. “I got me” is a way to say you have something. Similar ways of phrasing: “I need me a new bed. They need them a whole new house.” It just adds emphasis to the subject of the sentence. It’s not correct grammar though 😉

And if I hit the switch, I can make the a** drop

  • He’s talking about making the back of his car go down, as in low riders.

Had to stop at a red light

Lookin’ in my mirror and not a jacker in sight

  • A “jacker” is someone who takes things from others, like a thief. To “jack” is to steal.

And everything is alright

I got a beep from Kim, and she can f*** all night

  • A “beep” refers back before cellphones when people used pagers (or beepers) to contact each other. Sometimes, people still say “Give me a beep” when talking about a cellphone.

Called up the homies and I’m askin’ y’all

  • “Homies” are your best friends, basically.

“Which park are y’all playin’ basketball?”

  • *At which park are you all playing basketball?

Get me on the court and I’m trouble

Last week, f***** around and got a triple double

  • A “triple-double” is an achievement in a basketball game when a player makes a double-digit total in three statistical categories. For example, 12 rebounds, 20 assists, 43 points. Basketball terminology. To “F around” or “mess around” here means to do something while not even trying or not expecting it. “I messed around and ate a whole pizza without even trying.”

Freakin’ n***** every way, like MJ

  • This is a reference to Michael Jordan making other players look bad on the basketball court because he’s so good.

I can’t believe today was a good day

Drove to the pad and hit the showers

  • “Pad” is another word for your house. To “hit the showers” just means to take a shower or clean yourself up.

Didn’t even get no static from the cowards

  • *I didn’t even get any static… Double negatives! “Static” normally is that fuzzy electric sound your phone makes when there is a bad signal. Here, static can mean an irritating noise. He’s not hearing any annoying talk from other people.

‘Cause just yesterday them fools tried to blast me

  • *Because just yesterday those fools tried… To “blast” here means to shoot.

Saw the police and they rolled right past me

No flexin’, didn’t even look in a n****’s direction

  • To “flex” is to make yourself look better or show off. “No flexing” means he is not trying to show off, but is telling the truth. A similar phrase is “No lie.”

As I ran the intersection

  • To “run” an intersection is to drive through it when you’re not supposed to, such as on a red light. The same concept is to “run a red light.”

Went to Short Dog‘s house, they was watchin’ Yo! MTV Raps

  • *They were watching… Short Dog is another rapper.

What’s the haps on the craps?

  • “What’s the haps?” is a fun way to ask “What’s happening? What’s going on?” A similar phrase is “What’s the deal?” “Craps” is a popular dice game. Learn more by clicking here

Shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em

  • As in shaking dice before you throw them.

Roll ’em in a circle of n*****

  • And rolling dice, too. People often play dice on the floor where they throw them in the middle of a circle of other players. Also, playing this way is stereotypically associated with black Americans. In casinos, people play at a special table.

And watch me break ’em with the 7, 7-11, 7-11

  • So here, “break” means to do damage to the other players. Rolling a 7 or 11 is really good. He’s winning the game.

7, even back door Little Joe

  • Again, references to the game of craps. He’s doing very well.

I picked up the cash flow

  • He won a lot of money.

Then we played bones, and I’m yellin’: “Domino!

  • “Bones” is a game you play with dominos. It can be another word for the game of dominos. “Domino!” is what you say when you win the game.

Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central LA

Today was a good day

Left my n****’s house paid

  • *I left…

Picked up a girl been tryna f*** since the 12th grade

  • *I picked up a girl I have been trying to…

It’s ironic, I had the brew, she had the chronic

  • The “brew” here means liquor. “Chronic” means marijuana.

The Lakers beat the Supersonics

  • The Supersonic were a basketball team from Seattle, and were rivals of the LA Lakers.

I felt on the big fat fanny

  • “Fanny” in the U.S. means butt, and it’s not particularly offensive. In the UK, it has a much more derogatory meaning, I hear. Americans usually say it to be funny.

Pulled out the jammy and killed the p*****

  • “Jammy” here means condom. Much like “jimmy.” To “kill” means to have a lot of success or perform really well in something. Obviously, he is talking about something pretty intimate. That P-word is a reference to a woman’s private parts. It’s not the usual American English way to say this, but it’s a word that we borrowed from Indian slang by way of Jamaica.

And my d*** runs deep, so deep

So deep put her a** to sleep

  • Usually, the “A-word” means butt. However, people often use it just to refer to a person. “James’s a** was so rude yesterday.” Not his butt, but James himself was rude.

Woke her up around one

She didn’t hesitate to call Ice Cube the top gun

  • A reference to the movie Top Gun. She says Cube was the best.

Drove her to the pad and I’m coastin

  • “Coasting” is driving smoothly and happily. It can be used for any vehicle, really, but especially those with wheels, like cars, skateboards, bikes, etc.

Took another sip of the potion, hit the three-wheel motion

  • The “potion” means his drink. In normal situations, “potion” is a magic liquid that has some special properties. Sometimes people use it to mean liquor. “Three-wheel motion” refers to his low-rider. He can make his car stand on three wheels.

I was glad everything had worked out

  • Here, “work out” means that things went well, everything was good.

Dropped her a** off and then chirped out

  • Here, “chirp out” means to make noise with your car’s tires as you leave. More simply, it means to drive away. Similar to “roll out.” These days, instead of “chirp,” most young people say “skert.”

Today was like one of those fly dreams

  • In slang, “fly” means really cool. You can have fly clothes, or meet a fly person, for example. “Those shoes are fly!”

Didn’t even see a berry flashin’ those high beams

  • “Berry” references the colorful lights on a police car. High beam lights.

No helicopter lookin’ for a murder

Two in the morning, got the Fatburger

  • Fatburger is a popular fast-food burger restaurant. They have some famous locations in Southern California, especially.

Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp

  • A “blimp” is a big air vehicle that looks like a balloon. In Los Angeles, the Goodyear Blimp is famous for flying around and showing messages or advertisements in the sky.

And it read “Ice Cube’s a Pimp”

Drunk as hell, but no throwin’ up

  • To “throw up” is to vomit.

Halfway home and my pager still blowin’ up

  • *My pager is still… To “blow up” here is to get a lot of attention or action. “My phone is blowing up.”

Today I didn’t even have to use my AK

  • An “Ak-47” is a type of gun. I think you knew that. It’s also the state initials of Alaska, fun fact.

I gotta say, it was a good day

  • Similar to “I must say,” or “I have to say.” It’s like saying “To be honest,” or “To tell the truth.” “I gotta say, you can make a good German chocolate cake!”

Hey, wait, wait a minute!

Pooh, stop this s***!

  • Pooh is the DJ on this song.

What the f*** am I thinkin’ about?

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  • This is a very dear song to me; it’s old-school West Coast rap and it speaks on a lot of the problems of Los Angeles in a unique way. Instead of complaining about the problems, he raps about how perfect a day would be without those problems. There would be no violence, no police, good food, plenty of sleep and lots of love from a girl he’s always wanted to be with. There wouldn’t even be any smog in the LA skies! The song is kind of dreamy and hopeful for the future in a way, all the while criticizing how hard a normal day in South Central LA really is. Does this sound like a perfect day for you too? Let me know what you think!

Listen to the song:

Also, watch the music video: