By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
GIVEN THAT IT’S OSCAR TIME, I nominate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Bunch of Hypocrites. That’s because this year’s dirty little secret is the anecdotal evidence pouring in to me about hetero members being unwilling to screen Brokeback Mountain. For a community that takes pride in progressive values, it’s shameful that Hollywood’s homophobia may be on a par with Pat Robertson’s.
Despite the hype you’re reading in the press and on the Internet about Brokeback, with its eight nominations, being the supposed favorite to take home the Best Picture Oscar on March 5, Crash could end up winning. The issue isn’t which film is better. The issue is more like which movie was seen by the Academy. Frankly, I find horrifying each whispered admission to me from Academy members who usually pose as social liberals that they’re disgusted by even the possibility of glimpsing simulated gay sex. Earth to the easily offended: This movie has been criticized for being too sexually tame. Hey, Academy, what are you worried about: that you’ll turn gay or, worse, get a stiffie by just the hint of hunk-on-hunk action?
That Brokeback isn’t the Oscar favorite may have been foreshadowed at the SAG awards, when Crashtopped it for best picture and Philip Seymour Hoffman won over Heath Ledger. Remember: Truman Capote was so unthreatening — as compared to the in-your-face sexiness of Ledger looking longingly at Jake Gyllenhaal’s loins — that Johnny Carson used to invite him into the nation’s living rooms as a frequent guest on The Tonight Show.
It’s not that Crash isn’t Oscar-worthy and Brokeback is. Both are good, if flawed, movies. Crash makes up in aesthetic bleakness what it lacks in subtlety — Los Angeles is a city of minorities divided but colliding, duh! — but it’s also gripping and powerful. Brokeback gives us something we haven’t seen before — closet-case sheepherders tastefully presented so they redefine the notion of love. But it’s also slow and ponderous.
Look, I do understand the degree to which the cowboy has been an iconic figure in motion pictures through the ages. Also, that many geriatric Academy members not only worked on oaters, but also worshipped Audie Murphy, Gene Autry, John Wayne and other saddle-sore celluloid heroes. And that only an equally iconic figure like Clint Eastwood could redefine the genre in Unforgiven in a way that didn’t turn off the old-timers. But, jeez, I’m not just talking about the geezers. I’m talking baby boomers and younger Academy members who are sketched out about seeing Brokeback.
Sure, even without seeing the movie, they could feel guilt-tripped or succumb to a herd mentality to vote for the gay-cowboy movie and strike a blow against Republican wedge politics and religious hatemongering. But, if they don’t, then Brokeback may lose for all the Right’s reasons.
Cantcha just see red-staters licking their lips to give Hollywood a verbal ass whooping after looking at Tuesday’s Oscar nominations? “Boy hidey, those show-biz folk are just a homo-promotin’, liberal-media-embracin’, minority-lovin’, devil-worshippin’, pimp-hustlin’, terrorist-protectin’ bunch of pansies, commies and traitors.” Or hollering “We was robbed!” when Walk the Line was blown off as a Best Picture contender.
On the other hand, you’d think the religious right would be dropping to their knees and thanking the Lord, for instance — about the miracle of Munich and Spielberg squeezing out nominations. It turned out just as I predicted back around Thanksgiving: Because of Steven’s involvement, Academy voters ignored the loudmouth neocons at The Weekly Standardand National Review who denounced the movie’s POV, and instead accepted on faith Spielberg’s much-fictionalized take on the Munich Olympics aftermath.
Overall, Tinseltown’s never been so proud to be savaged by right-wing punditry. That is, everywhere but at ABC, the award show’s broadcaster, where suits are tearing out their hair plugs anticipating in-the-cellar ratings because of the celeb polemics, the lack of blockbusters among the nominees, host Jon Stewart bitch-slapping Dubya, Dick Cheney and parent company Disney’s CEO Bob Iger. (The Daily Show wit reported on the recent $7 billion Pixar deal by asking, “Do you feel your children are beholden to too many multinational corporations?”)
American Idol is for amateurs. Bring on the pro-edition humilitainment we’ll see on Oscar night. Take George Clooney, who always said he’d never attend the Academy Awards unless he’s a nominee. So now he’s ass-kissed by the Geritol generation in not one, not two, but three different categories. Look for him to show up at the Kodak Theater all smiles only to be shitting by evening’s end, when he’ll be blanked bigtime.
Then there’s Mark Gill, kicked to the curb from Miramax by Harvey and Bob Weinstein back in 2002, when the longtime president confided that he’d be leaving when his contract expired. Who has the last laugh now? Harv and Bob lost control of Miramax. But Gill, now head of Warner Independent, slapped a Morgan Freeman narration on the French-made March of the Penguins and will see it win for Documentary Feature unless the Academy resents its $115 mil worldwide gross.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city