Oscars 2019: ‘Green Book’ is the worst best picture winner since ‘Crash’
“Green Book” is the worst best picture Oscar winner since “Crash,” and I don’t make the comparison lightly.
Like that 2005 movie, Peter Farrelly’s interracial buddy dramedy is insultingly glib and huckster ish, a self-satisfied crock masquerading as an olive branch. It reduces the long, barbaric and ongoing history of American racism to a problem, a formula, a dramatic equation that can be balanced and solved. “Green Book” is an embarrassment; the film industry’s unquestioning embrace of it is another.
如同那部 2005 年的電影一般，彼得法拉利的跨種族夥伴喜戲劇（dramedy）如推銷員一樣油嘴滑舌到一種污辱人的程度。明明是一塊破瓦，卻沾沾自喜地自以為是橄欖枝。它將美國種族歧視那漫長、野蠻、且仍在進行式的歷史脈絡，簡化為一個單一問題、一個簡單公式、一個可以被平衡進而化約的戲劇套路。《幸福綠皮書》電影本身即是一個恥辱，而電影業界對它不加疑問的接納，則又是另一個恥辱。
The differences between the two movies are as telling as the similarities. “Crash,” a modern-day screamfest that rack up cross-cultural tensions by the minute, meant to leave you angry and wrung-out. Its Oscar triumph was a genuine shocker; it clearly had its fans, but for many its inferiority was self-evident.
“Green Book,” a slick crowd-pleaser set in the Deep South in 1962, strains to put you in a good mood. Its victory is appalling but far from shocking: From the moment it won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, the first of several key precursors it would pick up en route to Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, the movie was clearly a much more palatable brand of godawful.
《幸福綠皮書》這部滑潤而討喜的 60 年代美國南方故事，竭盡所能地想要娛樂觀眾。它在奧斯卡的勝利儘管駭人，但並非完全出乎意料。自從它在去年九月於多倫多國際影展拿下觀眾票選獎的時候（這是它在此獎季獲頒眾多獎項中的第一個重要獎項），就顯示了這部電影顯然是更容易入口的一種爛。
In telling the story of the brilliant, erudite jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who is chauffeured on his Southern concert tour by a rough-edged Italian-American bouncer named Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), “Green Book” serve up barefaced bald-faced clichés and stereotypes with a drollery that almost qualifies as disarming.
馬赫夏拉阿里（Mahershala Ali）飾演傑出而慧黠的爵士鋼琴家唐薛利（Don Shirley），故事講述他與維果莫天森（Viggo Mortensen）飾演的粗莽義裔美籍保鑣司機「大嘴」東尼瓦勒隆加（Tony “Lip” Vallelonga）一同到美國深南部巡演的故事。《幸福綠皮書》毫不害臊地端出了充滿刻板印象的陳腔濫調，並試圖以詼諧的逗趣感掩飾過去。
Mortensen and Ali, who won the Oscar for best supporting actor, are superb performers with smooth timing and undeniable chemistry. The movie wades into the muck and mire of white supremacy, cracks a few wince-worthy jokes, gasps in horror at a black man’s abuse and humiliation (all while maintaining a safe, tasteful distance from it), then digs up a nugget of uplift to send you home with, a little token of virtue to go with that smile on your face.
I can tell I’ve already annoyed some of you, though if you take more offense at what I’ve written than you do at “Green Book,” there may not be much more to say. Differences in taste are nothing new, but there is something about the anger and defensiveness provoked by this particular picture that makes reasonable disagreement unusually difficult. Maybe “Green Book” really is the movie of the year after all — not the best movie, but the one that best captures the polarization that arises whenever the conversation shifts toward matters of race, privilege and the all-important question of who gets to tell whose story.
I’ll concede this much to “Green Book’s” admirers: They understandably love this movie’s sturdy craft, its feel-good storytelling and its charmingly synched lead performances. They appreciate its ostensibly hard-hitting portrait of the segregated South (as noted by U.S. Rep. John R. Lewis, who presented a montage to the film on Oscar night) and find its plea for mutual understanding both laudable and heartwarming. I know I speak for some of the movie’s detractors when I say I find that plea both dishonest and dispiritingly retrograde, a shopworn ideal of racial reconciliation prop up by a story that unfolds almost entirely from a white protagonist’s incurious perspective.
“Green Book” has been most often compared not to “Crash” but to an older, more genteel best picture winner, 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy,” another movie that attempted to bridge the racial divide through the story of a driver and his employer in the American South. “Driving Miss Daisy” was adapted from Alfred Uhry’s play; “Green Book” was co-written by Nick Vallelonga (with Brian Currie and Farrelly), drawn from the stories he heard from his father, Tony. The truth of those stories has been called into question by many, including Shirley’s family, which wasn’t consulted during production and which dismissed the movie as “a symphony of lies.”
最常拿來與《幸福綠皮書》相提並論的，並不是《衝擊效應》，而是另一部年代更久遠、更附庸負雅的電影——1989 年的最佳影片得主《溫馨接送情》。那也是一部透過一位司機和他的雇主在美國南方的旅途，試圖彌平種族分歧的電影。《溫馨接送情》改編自 Alfred Uhry 的舞台劇，《幸福綠皮書》則是由 Nick Vallelonga 以其父親的口述故事為藍圖編撰而成。然而，這故事實際的真實性已經引起多方的懷疑，包含鋼琴家薛利的家庭成員。他們在電影製作過程中從未獲得徵詢，並且在電影上映後指稱本片為一部「謊言編織而成的交響曲」。
Historical accuracy is, of course, just one criterion by which to judge a narrative drawn from real events, and a movie could theoretically play fast and loose with the facts and still arrive at a place of compelling emotional truth. Distortions and omissions can be interesting in what they reveal about a filmmaker’s intentions, and “Green Book,” whether you like it or not, does not have a particularly high regard for your intelligence. In its one-sided presentation and its presumptuous filtering of Shirley’s perspective through Vallelonga’s, the movie reek of bad faith and cluelessly embodies the white-supremacist attitudes it’s ostensibly decrying.
That cluelessness has been well-documented. Earlier this season, Vanity Fair critic K. Austin Collins pointed out the gall of a white filmmaker blithely psychoanalyzing a black man’s alienation from his own blackness (especially when it takes the form of jokes about Aretha Franklin and fried chicken).
Vulture’s Mark Harris aptly described “Green Book” as “a but also movie, a both sides movie” that draws a false equivalency between Vallelonga’s vulgar bigotry and Shirley’s emotional aloofness, forcing both characters — not just the racist white dude — to learn something about themselves and each other.
這般的無知，已經有不少文章都提到了。《浮華世界》雜誌的影評家 K. Austin Collins 在前陣子指責了這部片白人編劇/導演的狂妄，批判他們竟然可以如此傲慢地對一名被自己社群和文化孤立而出的黑人進行心理分析。尤其是當這些自以為同理的手法，是以艾瑞莎·弗蘭克林（知名黑人靈魂歌后）與炸雞相關的笑點包裝出現。《禿鷹》雜誌編輯 Mark Harris 也恰當地賦予了《幸福綠皮書》如下的描述：一部重複著「但是對方也…」的兩面討好電影，試圖將瓦勒隆加的粗俗偏見與薛利的情感冷漠劃上虛假的等號，迫使雙方（不只是有種族歧視的白男）各退一步，並在對方和自己身上看到值得學習的一課。
It’s a tactic, Harris noted, whose echoes can even be found in a terrific older movie (and best picture winner) like “In the Heat of the Night,” and it exists mainly to reassure any audience that might be uncomfortable with a black man gaining the moral high ground.
Harris 繼續寫道：這樣的敘事策略，甚至可以追溯至另一部最佳影片得主—— 1967 年的《惡夜追緝令》（In the Heat of the Night）。而這樣的手法存在的主要目的，就是為了安撫那些可能會對於片中黑人角色竟然位居道德高位而感到不適的觀眾。
You would hope that in 2019 — even in a 1962-set movie — such strategic pandering would be a thing of the past. But in “Green Book,” we should be especially nauseated by how crudely the deck is stacked against Don Shirley from the get-go. A more honest, complex and tough-minded movie might have run the risk of actually becoming Shirley’s story, of letting the much more interesting of these two characters slip into the metaphorical driver’s seat. (The fact that Ali was pushed as a supporting actor to Mortensen’s lead campaign is telling in all the wrong ways.) But there isn’t a single scene that feels authentically like the character’s own, that speaks to Shirley’s experience and no one else’s.
即便《幸福綠皮書》的時序是設定在 1962 年，但你也應該會預期這樣迎合觀眾的討好手法，到了 2019 應該早就棄若敝屣。但是打從本片一開始，薛利的角色設計就粗糙地令人作嘔。若這是一部更誠懇、更複雜、意志更堅強的故事，或許就會不惜冒這個險，讓遠遠較為有趣的角色唐薛利自己去述說自己的故事（但從獎季中莫天森被推為男主角、阿里則區居配角，就可以看出一些令人搖頭的端倪）。然而，故事最終選擇的方向，使得整部片沒有任何一幕，讓人真切感受到薛利私人的切身感受為何。
His intelligence and elegant diction is continually Otherized. (Vallelonga’s intellectual inferiority is mocked as well, but the picture’s sympathies couldn’t be more clearly on his side.) The movie makes little attempt to parse or appreciate his musical gifts critically; Shirley’s artistic brilliance, much like his alcoholism or his homosexuality, is deemed interesting only insofar as it changes Vallelonga’s opinion of him.
It’s telling that what should be Shirley’s most emotionally lacerating scene — he’s busted for having sex with another man in a YMCA shower — instead becomes the movie’s most reprehensible. If you want to know what a profound lack of empathy looks like, take another look at that shot of Vallelonga sweet-talking the cops while, in the background, a naked black man sits handcuffed in the shower, terrified and humiliated.
有趣的是，薛利在片中最崩潰的一幕——他在 YMCA 的浴室被人逮到與另一名男子從事性行為——反而成為了這部電影最該被詬病之處。如果你想知道什麼叫做同理心的失喪，那你可以再看一次這幕：一名赤裸的黑人男子被銬在淋浴間顫抖瑟縮、感到無比恐懼與羞辱時，白人（瓦勒隆加）則在前方對著警察輕鬆地油嘴滑舌。
It’s strangely troubling that Ali — who won his first supporting actor Oscar for 2016’s “Moonlight,” an achingly beautiful portrait of gay black masculinity — has now won another award for playing a gay black man in a movie that has so little respect for his identity. There’s an even ghastlier irony in the fact that the academy that broke new ground by giving its highest honor to “Moonlight” two years ago has now seen fit to bestow the same prize on a movie that is “Moonlight’s” complete aesthetic, emotional and moral antithesis.
想來有點離奇又讓人隱隱覺得不安的是，甫在 2016 年以《月光下的藍色男孩》當中詮釋美麗而哀痛的黑人男性形象，拿下第一座奧斯卡最佳男配角的阿里，如今卻在一部不尊重當中黑人同志角色的自我身份的電影，再度摘獎。更弔詭的是，兩年前才剛打破守舊陳規、將最佳影片頒給了《月光下的藍色男孩》的新世代奧斯卡會員，竟然會在僅僅兩年後，就選擇將同樣的殊榮頒給一部與《月光》在美學、情感和道德上完全處在對立面的作品。
It’s one thing to like “Green Book,” but it takes a highly specific set of blinders to declare it the year’s finest cinematic achievement in the wake of this year’s many better alternatives, Spike Lee’s tough, provocative “BlacKkKlansman” not least among them. The fact that the academy embraced “Driving Miss Daisy” in the same year it overlooked Lee’s great, incendiary “Do the Right Thing” gives Sunday’s Oscars broadcast the sickening sense of history repeating itself: “BlacKkKlansman” at least received nominations for picture and director, but in the end it too lost out to a (much worse) two-hander peddling can’t-we-all-just-get-along bromides.
And that’s to say nothing of best picture nominees like “Black Panther,” the rare Hollywood blockbuster that examines the nuances of African and African American identity without undue concern for a white audience’s entry points, or the innumerable terrific, tough-minded movies about racial justice, like “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “Support the Girls” and “Widows,” which voters couldn’t be bothered to nominate for best picture, assuming they saw them in the first place. (The year’s best interracial buddy movie, by the way, wasn’t “Green Book”; it was every exchange between Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki in “Widows.”)
除此之外，其他幾部入圍最佳影片的作品也都值得一提。《黑豹》，一部難能可貴的好萊塢大片，它細膩地探討了非洲與非裔美籍的文化認同感，同時也兼顧了白人觀眾如何入門此議題的考量。更別提許多關於種族正義的堅毅傑作，像是《藍色比爾街的沈默》、《抱歉打擾你》、《支持女孩們》，和《寡婦》。然而就算奧斯卡會員們真的有看過這幾部電影，顯然也懶得提名他們。（順帶一提，今年最佳的「跨族裔搭檔」電影，絕不是《幸福綠皮書》，而是《寡婦》當中 Viola Davis 與 Elizabeth Debicki 的每一場對手戲 。）
Over the next few days and weeks there will undoubtedly be a lot of theorizing about what happened. Some will zero in on the failure of an academy whose taste clearly isn’t quite as evolved as its rapidly diversifying and internationalizing membership would suggest. Still others will be tempted to identify a stubborn strain of Trumpian anti-intellectualism among “Green Book” lovers who dug in their heels in defense of a much-maligned favorite.
They may have a point. I remain optimistic that, as with “Crash’s” ill-remembered victory, the coronation of “Green Book” will turn out to be not a re-entrenchment but a calamitous fluke — the academy’s last concession (for now) to that portion of the white moviegoing audience that still believes stories of justice and progress will always have to be negotiated on their terms. As Shirley tells Vallelonga early on in “Green Book”: “You can do better.” His rebuke might just as well extend to the movie he’s in and to a voting body foolish enough to honor it.