When I think back on my own childhood, I find that my memories are sepia-toned, by which I do not mean that I am especially nostalgic, but, rather, that I grew up in the 1970s, and brown was hot. Yellow, too. Those two colors comprised the entire palette of the complete Little Tikes line and many other elements of my visual universe. Everything else was red, green, or blue. All little kids had pageboy haircuts, and boys and girls wore the same Garanimals and played with the same Legos.
From all the films made every year, the Academy must choose the performance that deserves its Best Actress accolade—and avid watchers of their annual awards might well conclude it has no sensible criteria. Some years, the voting body wants to show its integrity. Other years, it wants to pet its poodles. This year, it wanted to pretend that racism isn’t an industry given, and rolled out an inelegant glut of tardy tributes. And there are, clearly, yet more social and political complexities polluting the field.
In 2004, every corner of popular culture was populated by men in crisis, and I don’t just mean George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. We had men in trouble, men in triumph, men in uniform, men on the cross, men in squarepants; men being men with other men, talking about masculinity—what it is, how to have it, keep it, get it, make it last. We might even call it the Year of the Man, but the response to such a title could reasonably be, So what’s new? Isn’t every year the year of the man?