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FIRST-PERSON: Oscar night: All dressed up & nothing to protest

HOLLYWOOD (BP)–Perhaps due to the fact that the nominated films did so much preaching and protesting on their own, last night’s Academy Awards celebrants were comparatively sedate.

Oh, there were the expected glib remarks from host Jon Stewart in reference to Dick Cheney’s shooting mishap and at one point the comedian pointed to the giant Oscar statue and asked, “If we pull this down, will there finally be democracy in Hollywood?” (a reference to Saddam Hussein’s likeness being toppled early in the war).

But mostly the winners and presenters refrained from aggressive outbursts. The winners were content to patting themselves on the back for being such concerned artists, praising themselves for being a part of an industry that seeks out social injustices and then rights them. It was not a night to remind themselves that it was an industry that also gave audiences “The Dukes of Hazzard” and a very full list of films with less noble intent.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was named Best Actor for his role in “Capote,” Reese Witherspoon received the Best Actress statue for “Walk the Line,” and Ang Lee was voted Best Director for “Brokeback Mountain.” Things went pretty much as expected. The one upset, the big surprise of the evening, was the Best Picture award going to “Crash” rather than the gay cowboy movie.

Ang Lee had just been cited for helming Brokeback Mountain and everyone in the audience was giddy with expectation. The stigma of sexual gratification between two men was soon to be expelled from society because their lighthouse movie would soon be the recipient of the Best Picture Oscar. Or so they thought.

At one point, one artist congratulated the industry for doing away with racial prejudice by granting a Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Hattie McDaniel in 1939 for her work in “Gone With the Wind.” Now, they were about to defeat sexual intolerance. Of course, that artist failed to mention that the night Ms. McDaniel won her award, she had to sit in the very back of the auditorium.

Brokeback Mountain was a depressing and profane yarn, one designed to further homosexuality as mainstream in the collective American psyche. By granting it the Best Picture Oscar, the film’s subject might become less taboo and the gay community’s chances of getting public support would continue to mount. But it was not to be.

Last night’s celebration from Hollywood and Vine was not just about advancing gay awareness, however. It was also a night to further liberal political views. George Clooney (winner of Best Supporting actor for “Syriana”) also was nominated for writing and directing the politically one-sided “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Not since Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” has a film been so unabashedly employed as a tool for indoctrination as Mr. Clooney’s. The story tells of renowned newsman Edward R. Morrow’s televised verbal war with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Mr. Clooney’s agenda became glaringly apparent as he avoided any commentary other than his own.

“Paradise Now,” nominated as Best Foreign Film, put a sympathetic face on suicide bombers and George Clooney’s other nominated film, Syriana (its Original Screenplay lost to Crash), concerned corruption in American politics and business. And it can be argued that like Paradise Now, it also defended Arab terrorism, though I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of America’s biggest movie star. In it a suicide bomber runs a bomb-loaded boat into a symbol of American “imperialism.” We see the detonation, but the film is careful not to show mangled bodies of innocents caught in the explosion. Only the put-upon terrorist is acknowledged for losing life.

No serious movies were made last year defending our political or military stance in the world. There was only one patriotic view stemming from motion picture studios, and that was from a decidedly leftist perspective.

This year, Hollywood’s aim was correcting social injustice. A fine calling. And Crash offered a solution to prejudicial inclinations -– grace and forgiveness. Alas, Crash did not signal these healing qualities as ultimately coming from our Creator. Hollywood wanted desperately for us to believe that man alone is in control of not just his fate, but his ability to right unjust behavior. God was not a part of the equation.

Not one single actor or filmmaker acknowledged God during their acceptance speeches. Most thanked each other and their mothers, but only a rap musician thanked Jesus. He won for his song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” My, oh, my.
Phil Boatwright provides the synopsis and content of new film releases, so you can decide if they are suitable for your viewing. For more information about his ministry, go to moviereporter.com.

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  • Phil Boatwright