Sunday, March 05, 2006

NY Times editorial drops the mask
And This Year's Oscar Goes to ... a Movie That Takes a Stand

This year's best picture nominees include a gay cowboy movie, and one about racial conflict in contemporary Los Angeles. There's a movie about the cycle of violence in the Middle East; one about a writer whose homosexuality, if not his journalistic ethics, is treated sympathetically; and one about a crusading TV newsman who took on a right-wing demagogue.

These films have something in common besides small budgets and low box office: left-of-center approaches to some of the day's most controversial issues. Hollywood rallying to the liberal cause may sound like non-news. As a Democratic friend said with a shrug when the nominations were announced, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is "the only branch of government we control."…

Movies are not just entertainment; they also help to shape the public discourse. Oscar voters seem to be resisting today's increasingly impoverished political debate — one that badly distorts, or leaves out, issues like gay rights, race relations, the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the media's role in safeguarding democracy. They may also be starting to move away from Hollywood's real ideology — not liberalism, but Groucho Marx's credo: "Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I've got others."

And moviegoer reaction to films that force-feed propaganda is best summed up by paraphrasing another of Groucho’s lines:
I didn't like the movie, but then I saw it under adverse conditions - the projector was working.

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