The 87th Academy Awards ceremony continued the tradition of Hollywood’s liberals seizing their moment on the dais to remind the well-heeled audience of the social injustices of the world. The Oscar celebration is known for being the night where left wing political comments are handed out almost as frequently as golden statuettes. For some reason, the grasp of the golden trophy makes the winner feel that he has earned the right to share his thoughts (usually his political thoughts) with the millions of people who just tuned in to see who won and look at the clothes. Famous past examples include Marlon Brando, who declined his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather because he was protesting the treatment of Native Americans in films. A Native American actress, Sacheen Littlefeather, accepted the Oscar for him. In 1978, Oscar’s Golden Anniversary was further enhanced by Vanessa Redgrave, who accepted her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as an anti-Nazi activist in the film “Julia” by treating the audience to a tirade against “Zionist hoodlums”. The Jewish Defense League had opposed her nomination and picketed the Oscar ceremony because she had financed and narrated a documentary called “The Palestinian”. So Ms. Redgrave chose this moment to set the record that she was against fascist and racist Nazi Germany. Well, she certainly had an impact, since we are still talking about it 37 years later.
The 87th Oscar night went political in a big way. Right out of the gate, host Neil Patrick Harris was making comments about how the evening celebrates the “whitest” stars in Hollywood, a dig at the civil rights film Selma only receiving a Best Picture and Best Original Song nomination, as opposed to a performance nomination. We also had John Legend and Common performing the song “Glory” from Selma which took the prize for Best Original Song. In their performance, they included references to Rosa Parks and Ferguson. Rosa Parks, the black woman who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus to a White man during the Civil Rights Era was a heroine. Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was a thug who was shot by a police officer in self-defense after Brown strong-armed a convenience store. How are we going to stop perpetuating the lie that Brown was a hero if the entertainment industry continues to lionize him?
Best Supporting Actress Winner Patricia Arquette received a standing ovation when she delivered a speech about gender pay equality. Ms. Arquette, whose personal net worth is estimated to be $24 million, needs to get her facts straight. Recent studies have demonstrated that when a woman has the same job as a man, her earnings are close to parity with his. Of course, in both Hollywood and the White House, women tend to earn less than men. Maybe that was what she was talking about. Ms. Arquette also offered no solution to the income inequity situation. Is she planning on sharing her $24 million with the actors waiting tables? Immigration also had its day in the sun when Actor Sean Penn asked the crowd who provided a green card to Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, the Mexican director of “Birdman. Gonzalez Iñárritu followed that joke up with his own comments about a “Mexican” winning Oscars being “suspicious”. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
Where were the conservative temper tantrums? The movie “American Sniper” only received one Oscar, Best Sound Effects. The winners did not use their moment on the stage to complain about why the film hadn’t received more awards. But then again, the film has made over $300 million at the box office, 50% of the $600 million that eight Best Picture nominees collectively generated. So perhaps the conservatives were quiet because they already knew that the public had spoken with their wallets.
The Oscars, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Golden Globes, Grammys, Emmys’ etc. are supposed to recognize achievements in the arts, not showcase the political persuasions of the entertainment industry. Wake up, Tinsel Town! You should be grateful that you live in a country which gave you the opportunity to earn the money so that you can wear that diamond necklace and live in that palatial estate.
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