The show itself was a bust. Patrick Goldstein and Mary McNamara summed up my reactions to it pretty well. But there were a few things worth mentioning.
First, it was a surprisingly multicultural event--perhaps the most diverse Oscar ceremony ever. There was a slew of black presenters and performers: Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Cuba Gooding Jr., Queen Latifah, Beyoncé, et al. Penelope Cruz represented Hispanics and a couple of Japanese guys won. Because of Slumdog Millionaire's success, there were lots of moments featuring (Asian) Indians. And there were several shout-outs to the gay community.
What about the (American) Indians?
There were even a few moments featuring American Indians. If you blinked, here's what you missed:
"Stagecoach" means savages
For some reason this reminded me of President Obama's "settling the West" comment. You know what happened in the most famous stagecoach ride in history--in John Ford's movie Stagecoach? A "wild" Indian attack, of course.
Imagine if Jackman had said this instead:
"Francois Truffaut once likened a production of a movie to taking a drive through Detroit. At first, he said, you hope for a nice ride. And then you just hope to reach your destination."
"Francois Truffaut once likened a production of a movie to taking a drive through a Muslim country. At first, he said, you hope for a nice ride. And then you just hope to reach your destination."
Talk about politically incorrect. I'm guessing a few people might've gasped at these comments. But no one thinks twice about labeling the "Wild West" a dangerous place. Because we all "know" it was inhabited by murderous Indians. We know it because we saw it in Oscar-winning movies like Stagecoach.
Summing it up
Despite this ill-conceived moment, I can't complain about a minute or so of air time for Indians. Most years you don't see Indians at all.
I don't know if Indians have appeared in Oscar film clips recently. Perhaps Adam Beach in Flags of Our Fathers or the Maya in Apocalypto? The last time we probably saw an Indian was in 1996 when Pocahontas won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.