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Oscar’s Obituary

by RICHARD OXMAN

 

I knew it the moment I saw Michael Moore crushed underfoot by a huge monster. Or was it a dinosaur? The action was so fast-paced, I honestly can’t remember what it was that shut him up in mid-speech. But what I do remember is that he allowed Hollywood to bury his anti-Bush banter/blather of 2003. In allowing Oscar to ridicule his remarks during its prelude to this year’s presentations (by taking part in a filmed montage), he joined hands with reactionary forces in La La Land to move in lockstep with our sitting / squatting / snotting-on-the-world president. At that early point, I knew the whole show –in spite of our simultaneous stripping of Aristide– was slated to be a Patriotic Parade.

Psst. If you want a hot tip for next year, take note. If the Statue of Liberty doesn’t go down during the interim and/or if enough NYC subway cars aren’t sufficiently contaminated this year, I’d say Oscars #77 is a prime candidate for being selected as the setting for Charnel House 2005. And that’s whether or not Bush, Kerry or Nader is calling the shots. Central Cast(ket)ing might very well choose Stephen King to host if they had a clue about the Nightmare Before 2006.

The clean sweep pulled off by “Lord of the Rings” doesn’t bode well. To quote Leilla Matsui (“Dances With Crucifixes“), its installments “cast good and evil in spectacular race-based terms.” Hollywood is truly Mover and Shaker for what Ward Churchill has referred to as “Fantasies of the Master Race.” And those wanting to deal another stunning blow to this so-called civilization of ours could do a lot worse than sending the whole Cast and Crew to the cemetery overnight. I mean, if you agree that the symbolic value/real impact of WTC #2 could not be outdone, what about the devastation to be wrought from eliminating all those sources of distraction in the blink of an evil eye? Imagine Princess Diana’s bones times a thousand. Conjure up the limbs of so many luminaries lying around for the most macabre of photo ops. Dwell for a moment on the blow it would be to the national psyche.

How could they hate our moviemakers so, you ask? What’s wrong here?…

*I must interrupt myself here to make absolutely certain that the reader understands that the two paragraphs above are neither wishful thinking nor hyperbole. I am using the words above for the same reason that I would choose to show the body bags coming home from Iraq, and provide the John Pilger “collateral damage” footage that some Europeans have had access to of late.

“Two Soldiers” won in the Live Action Short Film category. It was described as a work which focuses on “an unprovoked attack on the U.S.” The U.S. has never been attacked without provocation, has it? Even the most common suspect of Pearl Harbor was put to bed long ago by “Day of Deceit.” Of course, one too many Ben Affleck flicks will make this impossible for a given person to understand.

Sasheen Little Feather, the Native American woman who refused Brando’s award for him in the seventies, was denigrated by host Billy Crystal when he invoked her name, picturing her in the negative light of a casino saying, “Hit me, double down.”

Saddam Hussein? Easy target here for Billy Boy. His favorite movie this year? “Holes.” “And he can stay there,” added an arrogant B.C.

And speaking of holes, Best Documentary “The Fog of War” brought Director Errol Morris to the podium…where he actually thanked Robert McNamara. His feeble anti-war gesture about how we’re about to go down a rabbit hole because of our activity overseas was made heavy hay of by Host Billy immediately following the director’s departure. “I can’t wait for his tax audit,” joked the comedian. “We’re all going down the rabbit hole together,” he continued, making light of Morris’ attempt to criticize the Powers. And in case anyone missed his previous point about the reach of government agencies, Billy underscored the thrust of his remark with “Scary times!”.

Regardless of the above, the fact that the Academy so ignorantly chose to honor Morris film is a sign of great disease in the nation. All of McNamara’s World Bank sins (which far exceed his abominations related to the Vietnam War) are completely omitted. Those interested in details should see Alexander Cockburn’s piece on the film at <www.counterpunch.org>.

Sean Penn snuck in a single reference to WMDs early in his acceptance speech, but it only served to leave the question of should we or shouldn’t we have on the shelf of doubt, and open to academic debate.

Tim Robbins wore a peace button on his lapel. When he spoke he addressed the dilemma faced by those who are abused, in keeping with the role he played in Eastwood’s “Mystic River.” But, oddly, he only directed his remarks to the victims, giving them injunctions to obey; he had no advice for the perpetrators of crimes against children. Once again, the Church –which has done more, arguably, to promote war in the world than any other single institution– got off scot free. And there was total silence –the greatest sin of omission– respecting the role that ex-military people play in such realms. The impact of war on all of us was allowed to go unmentioned. This, while the horror in Haiti and all else elsewhere ensues.

It is too much for tears.

Yes, the priveleged will pay dearly. Those who would sit in the dark and be distracted by drama, and not be annoyed by atrocities in the real world, will have their black day.

Gregory Peck, one of my favorites, was honored somewhat. His dignity, decency and grace were noted as admirable qualities. Would that that all applied to more in the industry these days. But things are moving in a different direction.

One evening in the heat of a 1936 summer, a guest at the home of Helen Hayes and her husband, playwright Charles MacArthur, stumbled as he entered their home in Nyack, New York. Helen was standing in their doorway greeting everyone when the guest landed, embarrased, at her feet. At that moment, he came face to face with one of her Oscars; it was being used as a doorstop. That’s how most of the world feels it is being used by us.

I don’t know how many viewers noticed the giant Oscar that loomed to the left of the three others which were placed at center stage, but its head appeared to be emerging through a specially-cut hole in the fake ceiling. Head too big for its circumstances? Well, there are real ceilings when it comes to the environment, militarism and all else, but you’d never know it –would you?– watching our fantasy figures. Why, it’s like being in the movies.

I enjoy films as much as anyone, probably much more than most on a deep level. And I have great respect for those who create the beauty on celluloid. However, the day is long past when Hollywood will be able to continue compounding ignorance with ignorance with no accountability. Of course some good is done, and intentions are often on the mark, in the midst of all the real murder and mayhem. But, essentially, the vast majority are selling capitalist, pigsty product and selling themselves in the process. And the whores of Hollywood, I’m afraid, will not be able to make grand entrances much longer.

RICHARD OXMAN is a former Professor of Cinema History and a former New York City taxi driver. He currently resides in so-called progressive Santa Cruz, California, and can be reached at mail@onedancesummit.org.

 

RICHARD OXMAN can be found these days reading Joe Bageant’s material in Los Gatos, California; contact can be made at dueleft@yahoo.com. The Ox’s never-before-revealed “biography” is available at http://news.modernwriters.org/Some of his recent writing can be found in his Arts & Entertainment section and Features (under Social) there.

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