Progressive Message Won Big at Oscars

There weren't any outright anti-right wing statements, but the two top Oscars-winning movies delivered anti-war messages that some right wing reviewers could actually discern.
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There were no anti-right wing shout-outs, but the progressive message won big at the Oscars.

The two movies that won the most Oscar Gold in last night's Academy Awards ceremony, Avatar and Hurt Locker, were movies that annoyed the right.

When being, at least, honest, right wing commentators attacked Avatar as anti-American. Then there those who attempted to marginalize the explosive popularity it was experiencing, by saying it wasn't a very good story -- a flat-out total lie. An official Catholic Church publication took that approach.

Right wing Pajamasmedia exulted,

The Hurt Locker winning over the enviro-pabulum of Avatar and Sandra Bullock garnering the Best Actress Oscar for a Christian movie, the times are a-changin' at least somewhat, maybe even a lot.

The Wall Street Journal's Gerard Baker also rejoiced, with Pajamasmedia, that right wingers and their causes were not vocally attacked, saying,

Most years Hollywood can't resist exploiting its big night of unfettered access to the homes of tens of millions of Americans to parade the monolithically liberal prejudices of its denizens. Oscar night is usually replete with winners and presenters lacing their lachrymose expressions of self-love with gratuitous denunciations of capitalism, reactionary conservatism, or, for that matter, what most people at home might innocently think of as American values.

But tonight's show was politics-lite.

Funny -- treating a young black man with love and kindness, while Christian, certainly doesn't seem to represent the haters who compose such a big part of the right, especially the Tea Party people. The Blind Side was one of my favorites and Sandra Bullock earned her Oscar as best actress. She acted out a true story of a family that did the right thing in spite of friends and community. And in spite of the way most right wing Christian fundamentalists vote, if you look at the kind of haters they elect.

And was The Hurt Locker really pro-military?

Joe Stumpo, of The Richland Chronicle wrote, in his article, "Anti-American-anti-war politics detract from Oscar-nominated Hurt Locker - Avatar"

The problem I had with Bigelow's Hurt Locker film is for every scene that made me admire what the bomb disposal experts went through in Iraq, particularly the character Jeremy Renner played, I saw a number of scenes that painted the American troops in a negative light. It's like listening to the good angel on one shoulder telling me to say thank you to the next soldier I see.

Then, there's the devil on my other shoulder feeding me scenes of disenfranchised military men questioning why our government sent them there in the first place. Or shots of ungrateful Iraqi citizens, some of whom could be terrorists, watching with great interest to see if any of our military servicemen will come out alive as they attempt to disarm another roadside bomb.

...Don't tell me there aren't people out there who believe the reason American troops were sent to Iraq for Gulf War II was not to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power and keep the country from being overrun by al-Qaida terrorists. They think the reason was so "Dubya" and Vice President Cheney, with the help of Halliburton and that dastardly private military company, Blackwater, could get America's greedy hands on Iraq's oil supply.

I know there is no stopping filmmakers from injecting their personal politics into the movies they make. Bigelow has been quoted saying on that movies are "a great opportunity to comment on the world in which we live."

"Perhaps just because I just came off The Hurt Locker and I'm thinking of the war and I think it's a deplorable situation. It's a great medium in which to speak about that," Bigelow said. "This is a war that cannot be won. Why are we sending troops over there? Well, the only medium I have, the only opportunity I have, is to use film. There will always be issues I care about."

Michael Moore, in his Oscar follow-up article had a different take on The Hurt Locker than pajamas media or the WSJ.

Some critics have hailed The Hurt Locker because the film "doesn't take sides" in the Iraq War -- like that's an admirable thing! I wonder if there were critics during the Civil War that hailed plays or books for being "balanced" about slavery, or if there were those who praised films during World War II for "not taking sides?" I keep reading that the reason Iraq War films haven't done well at the box office is because they've been partisan (meaning anti-war).

The truth is The Hurt Locker is very political. It says the war is stupid and senseless and insane. It makes us consider why we have an army where people actually volunteer to do this. That's why the right wing has attacked the movie. They're not stupid -- they know what Kathryn Bigelow is up to. No one leaves this movie thinking, "Whoopee! Let's keep these wars going another 7 years!"

Moore also commented on Avatar:

James Cameron has been targeted by the crazy right, too. Because -- and Fox and Rush have this one correct, too -- Avatar is, in fact, an allegory for America -- a land stolen from an indigenous people who were slaughtered, a nation that not only allows corporations to call the shots but let's them privatize our wars (wars in distant places with the objective of controlling a dwindling energy resource), and a people who seem hell-bent on destroying the environment.

Cameron is a brave and bold filmmaker, a college drop-out who became a truck driver and then one day just decided he was going to make movies. Avatar is an idea he's had in his head since he was a teenager -- and somewhere, somehow, his dreams and creativity weren't snuffed out by the machine. Thank God.

Joe Stumpo finished his Oscar review with the comment, "Bigelow and Cameron are entitled to their opinions. That's what makes America great. They should, however, be thankful to even live in a country that allows them to make anti-American films that critics and audiences embrace. If they lived in any other country, movies like The Hurt Locker and Avatar would not be tolerated, much less made." I have to wonder, if the right wing had its way, whether they would be allowed to make their moves in the US.

When I saw Avatar the first time (mea culpa, I've become an addict and have seen it four times. The visuals, the story, the 3-D Imax technology, the music, the character development all added up to do it,) at the end of the movie, I stood up, before most of the people left the movie and shouted out, "This is what the US is doing in Afghanistan!" One clueless right winger shouted back, "And we're winning."

Now, as the most successful movie ever, Avatar has delivered its anti-war, anti-corporatism, pro-environment message to tens of millions and eventually, it will probably reach over a billion people, in spite of right wing efforts to hurt it with negative reviews.

The Hurt Locker was a different kind of war movie. It did not glorify war, though I imagine some right wingers might think it does, by portraying a crazy, adrenaline seeking bomb disposal expert. Some might characterize his order-violating behavior that put the rest of his team at un-necessary risk as heroic. I didn't. In that regard, The Hurt Locker may even be seen by some as pro-war, unlike the take Michael Moore has. Of course, the people with that take will be white males who, will miss the nuance which Kathryn Bigelow has woven into the movie.

It's true that this year, there were not outbursts or outright anti-right wing statements. But another glass ceiling was broken, with the first woman being awarded an Oscar for best director. The best actress award went to an actress who portrayed the antithesis of racism. The two top award winning movies delivered anti-war messages that at least some right wing reviewers could actually discern.

Overall, the Academy did a good job, rewarding movies with messages and a female director who made a very smart, moving film with a message. That's even better than a shout out against Sarah Palin.

Gerard Baker closed his article celebrating the absence of criticism of the right in the ceremonies, saying, "Then again, perhaps they're just willing to let the movies speak for themselves."

Indeed they did. Indeed they did.

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