By the time this piece is published, the 2019 Oscars will have come and gone. There will be the usual lamentations about Hollywood self-indulgence and hypocrisy, the annual complaints about the movies that went unrewarded in favor of films like last year's “Moonlight” which nobody saw, the absolute astonishment that the sum total of our wildly creative industries produced, most likely, another dud of an evening.
All those things are fair, and true, but that is not why Hollywood deserves our scorn. The real charge against our Leftcoast elites is that they bear a pressing responsibility today, which they utterly ignore.
Our country is indeed divided, and becoming more so. We tend increasingly to listen to voices on television or on Facebook or Twitter that agree with us. It has become so easy to do. When once everyone read the same newspapers and watched but a few TV channels, inevitably encountering facts and views that tweaked their perceptions, today they can and do search out those sources that buttress the opinions they already hold. That is unhealthy.
If someone wants to influence public opinion, to reach the “other side,” the most potent weapon – maybe the only weapon -- is our entertainment industries. The movie “Philadelphia” brought home the devastating toll of the AIDS epidemic. “Malcom X,” a biopic directed by Spike Lee, was found to have changed the way Americans felt about race. “Brokeback Mountain” furthered tolerance of gay rights.
Those films, and many others, informed and also influenced the country. They convinced audiences to take another look at an issue, to consider a different perspective. Unfortunately, almost without exception, that perspective is liberal.
When a movie like “American Sniper” comes along, that celebrates the courage of our GIs, it sparks outrage on the left. Activists tried to bar the film from the University of Michigan, arguing that its hero, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who died at the hands of a vet whom he was trying to help, was a “racist” and that the movie promotes “anti-Muslim…rhetoric.” How dare Hollywood turn out a movie that celebrates patriotism?
Very few conservatives dare raise their voice in ultra-left wing Hollywood, for fear of being ostracized and blackballed. Two years ago, “Eyes Wide Shut” actress Julienne Davis said that emerging from “the conservative closet” was one of the biggest risks she had ever taken. Right-leaning actor Tim Allen has said “there’s nothing more dangerous right now for all of the comics I know” than telling jokes that might offend liberals.
Consequently, few films are made that celebrate the terrific contributions of our country, or feature stories of people who have managed to lift themselves up, taking advantage of the opportunity afforded all Americans. Instead, we drown in movies that depict the U.S. as racist, violent and corrupt.
The precipitous ratings drop for the Oscar ceremony in recent years stems from, in part, the insistent politicization of the broadcast and insufferable condescension of those onstage.
Because liberal Hollywood faces so little push-back and because they cannot help themselves, leftist movie-makers often go too far.
This year, “Vice,” a cartoonish portrayal of Dick Cheney, who served as vice president under George W. Bush, was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. The enthusiasm for the film stems from its vicious and absurd depiction of Cheney, who is, according to the movie, an utterly malign power broker who bamboozled and undermined President Bush to pursue his own ambitions.
Sadly, audiences undoubtedly exited theaters convinced that Dick Cheney was the devil incarnate. In fact, Christian Bale, winning a Golden Globe, thanked “Satan for giving me inspiration for playing this role.” But even those inclined to admire the movie admitted that the actual representation of Cheney (apart from the impressive make-up) was not only uninspired but also not credible. As one reviewer on the liberal site Slate wrote, “the film is so uninterested in exploring anything resembling an actual person” that the vice president’s actual personality “doesn’t register.” Even the Washington Post declared it “an absurd mess.”
Moreover, as even Politifact notes, the movie in many instances presents fiction as fact, damn the consequences.
How, then, did it receive ten nominations? Because Academy voters are happy to promote left-wing propaganda and take zero responsibility for the outsized influence of their industry.
That Hollywood is liberal is well established. Political donations from industry participants flow almost exclusively to Democrats; in the Hollywood region of California, Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump. But that bias should not provide cover for irresponsible and one-sided storytelling. Balanced reporting in the news media is rare; in Hollywood it doesn’t exist.
This lopsided posture doesn’t help the industry. It turns audiences away from movies and from the awards shows during which Hollywood celebrates…Hollywood. Last year only 26.5 million Americans watched the Academy Awards on TV, down 20 percent from the year before, a nine-year low.
The precipitous drop in recent years stems from, in part, the insistent politicization of the broadcast and insufferable condescension of those onstage. It also reflects the outrageous ridicule hurled at President Trump and, by reference, his supporters. Viewers are fed up with Hollywood hypocrisy, their smug embrace of #MeToo while protecting Harvey Weinstein until they no longer could, their attacks on “racist” America while most years ignoring minority actors and directors, their incessant talk of “bravery” for people getting paid millions to repeat lines while America’s cops and GIs go uncelebrated on film.
Like academics in our universities, Hollywood elites undermine their high-minded claims of inclusiveness by shunning diversity of opinion. They disdain different voices, and so disdain millions of Americans. Those folks are not stupid, which is why they probably didn’t watch the Oscars Sunday night.