It is easy to mock the Academy Awards as an exercise in self-aggrandizement and decadent stupidity. It is easy to dismiss it as an increasingly irrelevant awards ceremony run by radical leftists. It is easy to ignore it.
That would be an enormous mistake.
Silly political statements are a hallmark of the Oscars. Sacheen Littlefeather, aka Marie Cruz, refused an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973; Vanessa Redgrave proclaimed that her pro-Palestinian viewpoint was threatened by “Zionist hoodlums” after winning an Oscar in 1978; Oliver Stone ripped the Vietnam War after winning an Oscar for “Platoon” in 1987. And that’s only scratching the surface.
In the past, this twittering could be written off as simpleminded Hollywoodites indulging their egos. The problem is this: While empty-headed line-readers with socialist political leanings used to be out of the mainstream, they’re now open public relations flunkies of the Obama administration. They provide Obama with cultural cover -- and Obama bankrolls them and legitimizes them in return.
On Sunday night, Sean Penn utilized his “Milk” win to lecture Prop. 8 supporters. Traditional marriage voters should “sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes,” Penn spat. Strangely, Penn then praised anti-gay marriage advocate Obama -- an “elegant man.” When questioned later about this apparent contradiction, Penn was circumspect; Obama, he said, was busy trying to stop wars and help the economy. “Those two emergencies, need to be taken care of without me making too much comment about how we approach civil rights,” blabbed Penn, demonstrating the courage of his convictions. It’s one thing to attack anti-gay marriage Mormons; it’s another to ask a liberal president to stand up for gay rights.
Penn’s decision not to “speak truth to power” is a calculated one. Where he once called Obama’s voting record “phenomenally inhuman and unconstitutional,” he now refuses to undercut Obama. That couldn’t have anything to do with the Democratic Party’s consistent support subsidies to Hollywood, could it? It couldn’t have anything to do with a $470 million tax break for Hollywood producers drafted by Democrats and signed into law by President George W Bush on Oct. 3, 2008, could it? Or the proposed $246 million tax break for Hollywood producers originally shoehorned into the stimulus package by Democrats (and later cut by Republicans)?