Pandemic Oscars: The Glamour of Sobriety

An astrological glimpse at one of the Academy Award's most somber and switched-up star trips.

I STARTED WATCHING THE OSCARS shortly after exiting my mother’s womb back in the late 1950s. As I texted my friend John this morning, as ‘mature’ gay men, we are a dying breed when it comes to what used to be the queer de rigueur-ness of Oscar night excitement.

Current and recent generations aren’t that interested in the Academy Awards. When I asked the young barista who made my coffee yesterday if he was going to watch the show he wondered what I was talking about: “Is that like the MTV Video Awards?”

The media his generation was born into was about diminishing screen sizes. Televisions gave way to desktops and laptops, and then smaller screens like iPhones and then finally Dick Tracy-like Apple watches. Can you imagine watching, say, Gone with the Wind or Titanic on an iPhone? Cool kidz do. As screens shrank, so did the fun, kitsch, and glamour of the Oscars. And with that attrition, so went audiences and ratings. Last night’s production broke all records for nadir scraping.

Steven Soderbergh, the spectacle’s director was between a rock and a hard place from the moment he took on the challenge. Offer something with razzle-dazzle—comedy, dancing, and goofy high-jinks and he’d be accused of tone-deafness re the past fourteen months we’ve endured.

Go balls out woke with an airy, dignified, but radical remaking of sequencing and the old-timers would bitch about ‘virtue signaling’, wrecked tradition, and hypocrisy. And I’ll take some of the latter’s point. I mean, when you drill into it, you can’t get more privileged than a coterie of Hollywood in-crowders decked out in Armani whilst educating the audience on racism and police atrocities. As if anyone in attendance (or at home watching) had been in a coma throughout 2020.

Anyway, typical of Soderbergh he said ‘fuck it’ and classified his show as a ‘movie’ by shooting the ceremony in 24 frames-per-second—as opposed to 30, which allowed him to—thanks to California code for film productions amidst COVID—rally people together without masks (after having been plague-tested and vaccinated twice) and let their jaws drop (or teeth clinch) depending on where they landed on the woke spectrum.

I groaned through different segments of the show last night. But I laughed too—South Korea’s Youn Yuh-jung’s win was my favorite moment. I also texted throughout the awards with several folks, fellow Oscar traditionalists. When I re-read my collection of threads this morning I had to give an award to my friend Michael who wrote, shortly after Frances McDormand’s win for Nomadland:

She shows up in an old nightgown and tells everyone to go watch this shit on a big screen so she gets more money + she plays the same downtrodden character for every Oscar®. Very Marie Antoinette.

And then later:

Alzheimers is always Oscar® bait, hence Hopkins’ win, like Julianne Moore’s a coupla years ago.

That Michael would take the time to assert a trademark symbol into the text speaks volumes about his Germanic character. And his perspicacity about aging Academy members is integral to his unapologetic Sagittarian bluntness. Although the Antoinette snark got the biggest laugh and nailed what vexed me, here and there, throughout the evening.

Despite generational shifts and drifts, the Academy Awards—a public tribunal of the collective imagination—still holds an unshakeable allure. People may tune out in larger numbers, but the film industry throws power behind the spell (or curse) an Oscar win bestows. And that honor forecasts the sort of stories, the modern-day myths, we’ll stream tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at the event chart for last night’s Oscar ceremony. What was the buzz?

An ascent

Libra rising. The ascendant of any chart—a natal chart, or a chart for an event or a nation—reveals the raison d'être, the destined theme of a person, place or thing.

So justice would be last night’s statement. Finding the fulcrum between history and current affairs. That Steven Soderbergh’s Capricorn Sun is conjunct transiting Pluto right now, tells me that he’s been stewing in the gurgling cauldron of our cultural moment, which, for all cultures is marked by Pluto’s current position.

You could say the entirety of 2020 was a protracted grinding away process related to Pluto’s ongoing transit through Capricorn, where long-held traditions are turned on their heads. Capricorn, a sign associated with the status quo (as upheld by the government, patriarchy, and corporations), touched off by the planet of undoing and remaking, represents everything we lived through in 2020.

And Soderbergh’s solar consciousness attempted to bring Apollonian harmony and order to the chthonic disruption. So, chalk up a win for serendipity or synchronicity or ‘there are no accidents’ (which is really what astrology’s stock and trade is all about).

Lunar integrity

The Moon in the chart’s first house makes this The People’s night—not Hollywood’s. The Moon is always about the plebs. The public is a compendium of individual moods and modes condensed into a collective character. The Moon is also in Libra—so the bulk of the public was looking for Libran themes—objectivity, balance, rationality—but also comeuppance and rectitude—with some beauty and romance tossed in too (Libra is Venus-ruled after all). I’d say the Oscars gave the majority of folks what they wanted. Another win for Soderbergh.

Militant mothers

Let’s consider Mars at the midheaven in Cancer. This pinnacle shows how someone or something makes and leaves a mark. What you see in high relief about a person, or what you talk about the most after an event. And this Oscars will be associated with an exaggerated (midheaven) militant (Mars) stance delivered by mothers and caregivers (Cancer).

And it was the messages that Black women brought to the podium that held attention last night; although the most moving moment was delivered by a Virgo man, Tyler Perry, when he instructed us all in the art of regarding others. He pulled off a miraculous feat—a lack of feigned piety—amidst a star-clogged event. The dude felt genuine—a true blue philanthropist. And the only way a mogul can pull that off is when they have billions of dollars and really in truly aren’t spending it all on themselves.

Back to the mothers. You couldn’t get more Mars in Cancer than the ceremony’s opening salvo delivered by Regina King when she announced: “I may have traded in my heels for marching boots.” And then continued to direct our attention with: “I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but as a mother of a Black son I know the fear that so many live with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that, OK?”

OK! Word.

But where was the ruler of last night’s chart?

Tauri teachings

Last night’s Oscar’s chart has Venus as its ruler and the planet is bookended in a Taurus stellium—conjunct Uranus and Mercury in Taurus in the 8th house. And so here’s the subtext of the entire evening. (And when I saw this in retrospect—while studying the event chart—I understood Frances McDormand’s win.)

A peripatetic (Mercury) earth-loving (Taurus) woman (Venus) whose untethered fringe existence (Uranus) highlights the invisible life (8th house) of millions of Americans who live on the verge of disenfranchisement. Exiles who find spiritual renewal via their travels through the grandeur of the natural world. The essence of the film Nomadland.

Venus in this chart is honored by her recent cazimi with the Sun, and this mirrors what would take the highest honors (Sun) last night. And, again, that’s Nomadland—one of the truly exceptional films from last year—that won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress last night.

So, that’s my astro close read of the Oscars®. Share your insights below.


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Opening collage: F. Woodruff