Suzanne Fields
The Academy Awards are the left coast's great cultural event of the year, more important to the stars than a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. Like them or not, movies drive the culture, reflecting and reacting to what's going on around us. They require our awareness. They can't be dismissed simply because they're the stuff of fantasy.

Fantasy is in vogue on the right coast, too. The Washington Post, once one of the president's most cheerful enablers, observes in an editorial that, "President Obama's foreign policy is based on fantasy." He seeks the happy endings of Hollywood's movies, where wishes come true not because they make practical sense, but because believing in them makes them so. Unfortunately, as he's learning now, we live in Kansas, not Oz. If Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine is "a 19th century act in the 21st century," as Secretary of State John Kerry describes it," it's not a costume drama or historical romance.

The president imagines he's a Hollywood star. He dresses, talks and acts like one, taking his dramatic persona and fashion styles from the actors. He, no doubt, thinks the popular television series "West Wing" is reality, and he prefers that to real life, where life is tough and 3 out of 3 people die. Mr. Obama's fondness for heroic rhetoric -- in crises in Egypt, Iran, Syria and now Ukraine and Crimea -- is backed by nothing more than more rhetoric. Alas, Vladimir Putin knows very well that he's not a player in a Tinsel Town melodrama. He's the villain, and those are real soldiers he's moving into Ukraine and Crimea.

Jared Leto, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, picked up the president's theme of fantasy, appealing to "all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight in places like Ukraine and Venezuela." He seemed to think that those about to be invaded and have their freedoms taken away were thinking only of the Academy Awards -- and of whose dress showed the most bosom. It was a charming appeal to pleasant dreams in the midst of a nightmare. Whimsy, maybe, but not reality.

The emphasis this year was on "niceness," in sharp contrast to the familiar attack mode in Washington. Snarkiness was out (for everyone but Liza Minnelli, accused of being a drag-queen imitation of herself). Hollywood didn't want to imitate the push-pull polarities that plague the relationship between Congress and the president. But the audience could appreciate Kevin Spacey, who in the character of Frank Underwood, the evil politician he plays on the television show "House of Cards," expressing his sinister delight in being out of Washington for the weekend. Touche.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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