Leftist Values Below the Oscar Surface

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Producers of best picture winner "Argo" Heslov, Affleck and Clooney pose with their Oscars at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

The 2013 Academy Award broadcast generally steered clear of overt political statements, but two aspects of the occasion demonstrated the movie industry’s strong liberal values.

Most obviously, the selection of First Lady Michelle Obama to announce the Best Picture winner in a live satellite connection from the White House seemed odd and out of place. For one thing, her pairing with co-presenter Jack Nicholson constituted one of the strangest couplings in Hollywood history: the First Lady is noted as a champion of a healthy lifestyle and wholesome values, while the proudly out-of-shape, drug-indulging, aging playboy Nicholson has always represented an unhealthy lifestyle and unapologetically unwholesome values. Had Ann Romney become First Lady it’s difficult to imagine that she would have felt comfortable playing a role generally reserved for Hollywood insiders, or that the Motion Picture Academy would have invited her to do so.

Moreover, the selection of Argo as Best Picture over Lincoln expressed the topsy-turvy thinking of the Hollywood establishment. Rather than picking a movie that dramatized one of the most glorious moments in American history – the final abolition of slavery – the Academy chose a film that portrayed one of the most embarrassing – the Iran hostage crisis. Instead of a story of redemption based on military success, impassioned debate and bare-knuckled deployment of political power, the Oscar went to a daring rescue based on fast-talking Tinseltown scam artists and a silly Hollywood movie that didn’t even really exist. And rather than honoring the work of Steven Spielberg, the most successful and acclaimed director in movie history, the top prize represented a compensatory gesture to Ben Affleck, a once-reviled actor who drew sympathy because he failed to win a best director nomination. Argo remains a well-made, original and highly watchable film, but it hardly constitutes a work of substance and grandeur that will stand the test of time as will Lincoln.

The producers, writers and directors of both films share a passionate commitment to the Obama presidency, of course: Steven Spielberg is a devoted Democrat and generous donor to liberal causes, while his screenwriter Tony Kushner is a self-described socialist who suggests in interviews that Obama ranks with Lincoln as a great president. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck and his producing partners George Clooney and Grant Heslove also campaigned actively for the president’s re-election. But the Lincoln liberals displayed a reverence for our sixteenth president and the epic achievements of his heroic generation that can arguably be called conservative, while spreading the wealth to a less deserving achievement like Argo reflects values on the part of the Motion Picture Academy that qualify as undeniably liberal.

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Comments (12)

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  1. American  •  Feb 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    No offense Michael, because I simply LOVE your views, but I think the problem might have had something to do with much of the “history” in the film Lincoln not aligning with the actual historical Lincoln.

    • Mitch  •  Mar 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      The history was right on in Lincoln. You need to read a history book or stop watching FOX for a minute. On the other hand in ARGO ( a crappy film by my standards) was overloaded with faux history and silly sympathies towards our worst president Jimmy Carter.

  2. Mike Kunikis  •  Feb 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    You article is reflective of your “rightist” thinking. You claim that Argo depicted one of our most embarrassing moments while Lincoln depicted one of our most glorious moments. But doesn’t that depend on the way you look at it. Argo also depicted a pretty glorious moment – rescuing those diplomats, which Lincoln depicted one of our most embarrassing – slavery. I really don’t think that Lincoln’s achievements can necessarily be labeled conservative – being on the side of the underdog seems to have historically been a liberal feeling. (See the labor movement, the civil rights, movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement, etc. etc. etc.) And other movie awards voted Afleck best director and his movie best movie, so your comment about it being compensatory is not based upon reality.

    • Mitch  •  Mar 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Getting 6 hostages out of Iran during the revolution does not compare to Lincoln and the Amancipation Proclamation.
      Beside hold the union together.
      Argo was not a good movie, certainly not an Oscar winner, certainly not a movie for thinkers more for spankers.
      It won because of it’s homage to Jimmy Carter and its faux history that is inline with liberal Hollyweird. I think it was a stinker that I watch in fast speed 1/2 way through because I could not stand it.
      The only good things were John Goodman and Alan Arkan they were funny.

      • Mike Kunikis  •  May 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        Argo was an “homage” to Jimmy Carter? ? ? ? Are you even attempting to be serious? I think it was an “homage” to the people who got those Americans out and to the Canadians. Your thinking represents that of the typical paranoid rightwinger.

  3. Kathleen Everitt  •  Feb 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    The CIA rescue operation was a great moment. The actual taking of the hostages; the fact that they were held so long; the failed rescue attempt by the Carter administration–was not great, not even good. Lincoln in contrast was a great film with a portrayal by Daniel Day Lewis which was amazing.

  4. lynn p  •  Mar 1, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I liked both movies, but I don’t see how choosing Argo over Lincoln was more politically generated. Truthfully, Lincoln was bland despite the historical importance. How would giving the Oscar to Spielberg be less politically left? What about Zero Dark Thirty not getting director nomination because of what many say were the “torture” scenes. Did Daniel Day Lewis win Best Actor because he WAS Lincoln, or because he played the role so well? In my opinion, Bradley Cooper or Hugh Jackman gave much more complex performances. No one ever agrees with all the nominations or the winners. since Hollywood is predominately Democratic/Liberal, anything coming out of it is going to lean that way.

  5. Jeff Silverberg  •  Mar 1, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Good review. I thought Lincoln although a good flim, was not great, of course neither was Argo which I expect to see on DVD soon enough. It will be up to conservatives to make their case in Hollywood should they want to be heard.

  6. Lester P.  •  Mar 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Read ‘The New Tolerance’ by Josh McDowell. It explains everything.

  7. Megan W.  •  Mar 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Have you read “IRAN, EVIL, THE CIA AND WHY “ARGO” MATTERS” on Joel Rosenberg’s Flash Traffic blog? He feels the opposite way about Argo. He says, ” It is the first serious major motion picture to take Americans and the world inside the fanaticism of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It is the first serious film to show how badly the Carter White House and the CIA leadership misunderstood the nature and threat of the evil that was unfolding in Iran at the time.”

    Rosenberg seems to approve highly of the film and was glad it won best picture.

  8. Mitch  •  Mar 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    The Shau of Iran (King of Persia) was Shau for 38 years. He brought Iran and its people into the 20th century. Did he do this as a benevolent leader or a brutal dictator? He did this as both. As benevolent leader he brought western sensibilities and ideas to a country suffering under religious persecution and religious murder.
    As a brutal dictator he sent killing squads against enemies of the state the shiite clerics which tried to destablize the country for the 38 years he was Shau. Now it is a lot more complicated then that. But if the Shau was still in power we would be calling Iran friend as we did from 1941 to 1979.

  9. Louis Vuitton Taschen Outlet  •  Jul 29, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Vision has direction. Louis Vuitton Taschen Outlet

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