Nearly everyone reviled the academy's choice for Best Documentary Feature, Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine." As if on cue, Moore mounted the stage and launched a tirade against the "fictitious election" of President Bush and his "fictitious reasons" for war. Academy voters could have prevented this guaranteed spectacle long before the chorus of boos. Despite his stated reverence on the Oscar stage for "nonfiction," the facts have clearly never been Moore's specialty. This documentary was anything but nonfiction.
The Wall Street Journal's John Fund recently devastated Moore's agit-prop "Bowling" film as typical Moore-mangled propaganda. Perhaps Moore's most audacious invention was his declaration that he opened a bank account in Traverse City, Mich.: "I put $1,000 in a long-term account, they did the background check, and, within an hour, I walked out with my new Weatherby," a rifle. Fund reports the bank employee who worked with Moore says that acquiring the gun usually takes seven to 10 days. The hour gag only happened because Moore's film company had worked for a month to stage the scene.
But Academy voters don't have to actually watch the documentaries they laud. Nor is it important to know if it's truth or deceit that's presented. All that mattered was the endorsement of Moore's radical politics. Film-making ethics took a back seat to The Statement -- again.
Overlooking a filmmaker's ethics was more of an Oscar pattern. Perhaps the most shocking victory of the night was in the Best Director category, won by Roman Polanski for "The Pianist," a Holocaust movie. Many film critics found this film aglow with artistic merit, but this filmmaker deserves more recognition from Megan's Law than Oscar's nod.
In 1977, at the ripe age of 43, Polanski took sexual advantage of a 13-year-old girl, and then before he could be effectively punished, the child molester fled the United States, a cowardly fugitive from justice. Hollywood forces campaigned for Polanski as if he was an artistic Bill Clinton, pleading for people to separate his personal crimes from his professional brilliance, and Academy voters easily swallowed that lure, voting with their feet when they gave him a standing ovation in absentia.
What an embarrassing night for the Hollywood elites. They should count their lucky stars that the audience was comparatively small. Perhaps they, more than anyone else, were last week's biggest public-relations beneficiaries of our war against Saddam Hussein.