In further evidence of just how out of touch Hollywood is, the AFP is reporting (hat tip to Drudge) that total worldwide movie ticket sales declined by 7.9 percent in 2005. In North America, the decline was 6 percent.
Potentially more telling from this survey done by the Motion Picture Association of America was what kinds of films moviegoers are interested in: “Most movie-goers in 2005 went out to catch family films, with movies rated PG-13, meaning that children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, accounting for 85 percent of the most watched films in 2005.”
Washington Post book reviewer Jabari Asim writes in a column on the Post website that he hopes the newfound notoriety for the Oscar-winning rap song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" will make the P-word too mainstream, that it will lose its "luster of hipness," and suggests new African-American slang.
My first suggestion: "scholar."
Imagine yourself amid all the men who used to gather aimlessly on street corners, lounge on the steps of other people's houses and hang out with the rest of the worshipful congregations outside package liquor stores -- all of you deeply absorbed in library books.
Except you can top them all by trundling down the street with -- you guessed it -- a wheelbarrow almost overflowing with the latest volumes by our nation's best authors.
Normally, the news that a film about racism won the Oscar for best picture is pretty much a dog-bites-man type of story. Old hat. Done before. What usually happens.
Not this year, though. The upset victory of "Crash" in the Academy Awards race has proven to be just that, but more for supporters of "Brokeback Mountain" than for anything else. Apparently, hell also hath no fury like a slightly-above-average gay movie scorned.
The backlash against "Crash" has been such that even avowedly liberal film critic Roger Ebert has stepped up to defend the film he had been pulling for to win the Oscar. After listing some of the more ridiculous criticisms from "Brokeback" supporters (see here, here, and here for more), Ebert notes how Academy of Motion Picture critics blithely ignore "Capote," which chronicled gay journalist Truman Capote's attempts to write the story of a murder of a rural family:
Most of you have probably never heard of Bill Robinson. Heck, I’ve never heard of Bill Robinson. I've heard of “Will” Robinson, but now I'm dating myself.
Anyway, Bill Robinson is a movie producer and screenwriter of some note whose blog at HuffPo on Monday must have raised a few eyebrows, and caused many hung-over Oscar revelers to spit up their first cup of coffee. In his piece entitled “Sore Loser Mountain,” Robinson took on his fellow Hollywoodians’ collective concern that “Brokeback Mountain” was robbed of Best Picture honors at Sunday’s Academy Awards due to “the secret homophobia of Academy voters.” Robinson didn’t see it that way:
“Sorry, but I don't agree with the sore losers. Yes, homophobia exists all over the place, including among Academy voters, but the ‘Crash’ victory probably had more to do with the thousands of DVD's sent to voters, and the six-figure Oscar spending spree on its behalf. ‘Brokeback’ had garnered endless awards, and is the highest grossing best picture nominee. Is it really the victim of an anti-gay conspiracy?”
Hmmm. Clearly, Robinson was on thin ice here, for most of the posters and readers at HuffPo – especially the proprietor! – hate it when facts are brought into the discussion. Fortunately, Robinson wasn’t done. Next, he challenged the premise that “Brokeback” was an extraordinary movie deserving of Best Picture status:
Last night's 78th Oscar presentation was the lowest rated show in the last 20 years, failing to break the 40-million mark in viewership. Why? Well, aside from the Hollywood-left’s love affair with anything that cast George W. Bush in the worse possible light, the reason is as plain as the botox in Jennifer Lopez’ lips:
The rather obvious and politically -charged "social message" that Hollywood attempted to swamp the American movie-goer with just didn’t entertain, and didn't sell tickets.
Our man Dickens also discovered that over the weekend on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," Time columnist (and Clinton-loving "Anonymous" author) Joe Klein disagreed with Matthews on the artistic and political merit of the Best Picture winner, "Crash":
Joe Klein: “You look at these five, you look at these five movies and they are like a right-wing fantasy of what the Democratic Party is all about. It’s, one movie is about blacks, another movie is about Jews, another movie is about journalists, another movie is about a gay journalist and finally you have gay cowboys just to poke an eye in your face. Since all politics is local.”
MRC's Geoff Dickens reported that in the 9 am half hour of "Today," Katie Couric went mushy for "Crash," a movie even liberal critics disliked for its manipulative (and at times unrealistic) plotting. Couric even mentioned how she liked that her daughter's ninth grade class was shown the fictional L.A.-stuffed-with-racism flick to spur discussion about America's unending race problem.
Katie Couric: "And also I think, Chris [Bridges], don't you think that, that the things weren't so black and white, so to speak, in the, in the movie. You know people were very nuanced. They had very different sides to them. So there weren't clear cut lines between bad characters and good characters were there?"
This was a dramatically liberal year for Oscar, but the more political winners at last night's Oscars didn't get pointed questions from the right. The news media's general feeling is to cheer movies for the "social good," and never imagine that the movies could be riddled with errors (Good Night and Good Luck), riddled with profanity (Crash), or just be assessed by critics as a lovably confusing in its conspiracy theorizing (Syriana).
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed George Clooney this morning about his Oscar victory speech on "Good Morning America" and asked benignly: "Was it a political speech, were you interjecting politics?" Clooney spoke diplomatically about a "portion" of America being on his side, and a portion were not. Clooney's claim that Hollywood was "out of touch" in all the good ways was underlined by ABC as they ran a clip of black actress Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With The Wind."
At the 78th Academy Awards Sunday evening, actor George Clooney won the Oscar for best supporting actor. During his acceptance speech, Clooney admitted that Hollywood is out of touch. However, he said that this was a good thing, and actually had the gall to suggest that Hollywood is responsible for bringing attention to problems like civil rights and AIDS.
In what was a pretty lackluster evening with very little political references, instead of winning the award for best supporting actor, Clooney should have won for the most self-serving, pompous, and inane acceptance speech.
What follows is a transcript of the part of his speech dealing specifically with how wonderful Hollywood is, along with a video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz and Expose the Left.
Here in Washington, the affiliate that carried the Oscars was ABC channel WJLA. Immediately after the show, Anchor Leon Harris spoke with reporter Kyle Osborn about the only "officially sanctioned Oscar party" held in Washington, where 400 political fat cats raised money for charity as they cheered their favorite Hollywood liberals.
Said Kyle Osborn, who attended the event:
"The crowd cheered on Jon Stewart, his monologue went over well. George Clooney, they loved him, and especially loved his, I'd say, politically minded acceptance speech."
George Clooney defended Hollywood's status of being out of touch with the rest of America, saying Hollywood has always led the way on such issues as civil rights while the rest of America dragged its feet.
While Air America Radio's loss of two affiliates in Phoenix and
Missoula, Montana is generating news this week, the company itself probably
hasn't been able to give either city a second thought.
Why? In a
development sure to rip the heart right out of the liberal radio network's
already ailing body, it appears extremely likely their leased New York City
flagship station WLIB-AM will soon abandon Air America programming.
worse, litigation looks probable over the station's lease.
As NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein pointed out this morning, Hollywood’s liberal streak is now so obvious even the news media are taking notice. But it isn’t just that celebrities are liberal activists in their spare time — liberal talking points are also finding their way onto TV and movie screens.
Case in point: Last night’s ER, NBC’s long-running medical drama. The March 2 episode saw the much-promoted return of “Dr. John Carter,” played by Noah Wyle, who left the show at the end of last season. Last night’s episode had John volunteering at a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan, where hundreds of thousands have died in a real-life humanitarian catastrophe. Even as they portrayed the Janjaweed militia as the chief villains, the ER writers couldn’t resist taking a potshot at inaction by a supposedly racist U.S. Congress. Windows Media or Real Player
What got into Good Morning America? Each of the network shows ran its compulsory pre-Oscar segment this morning. But while Today was airing a bland piece on the freebies that celebrities in attendance get in gift bags, GMA's segment had a most unexpected angle, asking whether Hollywood has become too political - read 'liberal.' As Tim Graham has noted, Jon Stewart and George Clooney have denied that Hollywood suffers from any such bias, but GMA host Charlie Gibson acknowledged the slant frankly.
He framed it this way:
"Now we turn to the politics of the Oscars. We've talked a lot about the culture wars in America, the blue state/red state divide, the clash between more traditional moral values and more liberal points of view.
Rap and hip-hop make up a multi-billion-dollar industry and represent the most powerful pop-cultural influence in the nation.
The sound can be loud and boorish, but it can also be quite unique and interesting. What’s not debatable is that it has an ugly past and a present that – lyrically – continues to escape much mainstream scrutiny. And, with no discussion or debate, it’s being given a home in the Smithsonian Institution alongside the flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” and other national artifacts.
The announcement this week of the new exhibit received universally uncritical coverage by mainstream media outlets, such as The New York Times. The Washington Post’s David Segal came closest to straying from the PC line, opening his piece this way:
According to a poll commissioned by the McCormick Tribune Foundation (details here) reveals that Americans know more about the long-running Fox cartoon family the Simpsons than they do about the First Amendment.
Only one-tenth of one percent (1 in 1000 people) of those surveyed were able to name all five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment--speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition--while 22 percent could identify the five members of the Simpson family--Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie.
Awareness of freedom of speech was pretty high in the survey at least. Well over half of respondents (69 percent) named it as a freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Knowledge of the other four, however, was low with the next most-cited freedom being religion with just 24 percent. That's 1 percent less than those who were able to name all three of the "American Idol" judges, Randy, Paula, and Simon.
When asked if Hollywood is liberal (culturally or politically), whether it's outside the American mainstream, or attempting to drag it to the left, two big stars told CNN's Larry King no. On Monday night, MRC's Megan McCormack noticed that Jon Stewart, preparing to emcee the Oscars, said the idea that Hollywood is liberal and getting in the face of conservatives is not a real issue:
Male caller: "Hello. I was wondering, regarding the, the cultural war we have between Republicans and Hollywood, how Jon feels this year’s crop of nominees and the films that Hollywood chooses to celebrate, is that Hollywood thumbing it’s nose at Republicans, or does it give a kind of vindication to the Republican party, and possibly allow some backlash? Could Hollywood find, in a time when censorship’s becoming a real issue again, could it hurt ‘em?"
You never know what wacky line you're going to find leafing through the back pages of Time magazine, and in placing their bets in this week's elapsing issue, Time film critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel predict "Brokeback Mountain" will win the Best Picture Oscar. When they try to guess a reason why it might confound the betting line and not win, they suggest: "The Academy remains a somewhat conservative body, and although this is a handsome and superbly acted film, it may not yet wish to endorse that 'gay cowboy' movie."
That avoids the question: if the Academy is so moderately conservative, then what explains the rash of nominations for "Brokeback," and "Capote," and "TransAmerica"? In fact, they contradict themselves a bit in their note on Felicity Huffman's Best Actress nod for playing a guy who wants to be girl: "Terrific performance in a picture that has not found an audience.Its transgressiveness doesn't even set it apart in the year of Brokeback Mountain and Capote." If the Oscars are a field of "transgressive" films, how can the Academy nominating them be even remotely conservative?
Not to be outdone by their liberal brethren in the printed press and TV mediums, AOL has once again loaded the web site's home page with another "We hate Bush, too!" headline, followed by those ever-present yet predictable AOL poll questions.
Centering around the recent political upheaval of the impending sale (6.8 billion dollars) and takeover of the operation of 6 American ports by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai Ports World specifically, today's AOL Home page hopefully asks : "Is His PowerFading Away?" placed alongside a head-drooping and cryptic silhouette of what can only be President Bush. The sentence below then reads: “Bush Faces More Challenges," whereupon clicking on it brings one to a battery of poll questions in a section that AOL calls "The Daily Pulse"
The hard-left Pacifica Radio network is a network of five public radio stations in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Houston. Together, these stations have regularly drawn about a combined $1 million a year in federal money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (For a while, conservative Rep. Joel Hefley would push an amendment every year to reduce the federal CPB budget by $1 million in protest.) Perhaps their signature program is "Democracy Now!" with Amy Goodman, which boasts of public TV and radio stations far beyond the Pacifica-owned affiliates. On Monday, they went on one of their pledge drives with a new premium: a DVD of celebrities reading from leftist historian Howard Zinn's "Voices of a People's History of the United States."
Celebrities included Danny Glover, Sandra Oh (of "Grey's Anatomy"), Viggo "Aragorn" Mortensen, and the one reader that really surprised me: Marisa Tomei doing a dramatic reading of Cindy Sheehan.
First there was Bryant Gumbel. But has one of our own Olympic athletes also politicized this installment of the Winter Games? In an NBC profile of U.S. champion figure skater Johnny Weir this past week, the flamboyant athlete is shown lying on a couch wearing a red sweatjacket with the decoration of CCCP, the Cyrillic Russian initials of the old USSR [link to video at gawker.com, see note below]. Yes, we have now seen the day when an Olympic athlete, representing the United States, is seen casually wearing a sweatjacket symbolizing the old Soviet Union.
"Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them ... Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won ... So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin."
This weekend’s vice presidential quail hunting trip is fast becoming a comedian’s dream. Channel and Internet surfing is suddenly a virtual “Open Mike” night at the Comedy Store.
Next on stage was the host of the demised Comedy Central program (remember when it was a decent show before Bill sold out to ABC!) “Politically Incorrect.” Bill Maher decided to write a mock script, posted at the Huffington Post, of how things progressed after Harry Whittington was accidentally shot:
"Um. Sir. Mr. Vice President, he's kinda just laying there."
"Shhhhhh!!!! He's a lawyer. You want him to sue?...Harry? You OK? Harry? See? He's fine. This is just part of the administration's new tort reform package."
Nice gratuitous shot at lawyers and tort reform in the same punchline, Bill. From there, Maher went after the medical profession adding a dash of stereotypical anti-Semitism:
Robert C.J. Parry, a first lieutenant in the California Army National Guard's 1st battalion of the 184 Infantry, has published a must-see op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times (Sunday, February 12, 2006), entitled, "The war you didn't see." In the piece, he reports something that is rarely reported but has been known by many all along: The mainstream media has been giving our troops a raw deal by harping on negative news and ignoring positive accomplishments.
"We served with honor. We served with valor. We earned distinction," writes Lt. Parry, as he recounts a number of brave actions in battle from men with whom he served. (Emphasis mine:)
"So far, 14 of our soldiers have been decorated for valor and another 48 have earned the Bronze Star for service. But that cannot be found in print.
No more than a couple years ago, headlines invoking Britney Spears in a "lap" controversy might have brought to mind images of graphic goings-on in the Champagne Room.
But time marches on, and Britney-the-new-mother is now caught in a lap-gate of an altogether different sort after photos were snapped of Britney driving her car with her four-month old son in her lap rather than secured in a car seat. In the latest development, according to this LA Times article, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy went to her Malibu home on Tuesday "to collect information for child welfare investigators" in connection with the matter. For the record, Spears says she was feeling hounded by paparazzi and drove off with the baby in her lap to escape them.
Thanks to my Yahoo-loving wife, I've learned that NBC is backtracking big-time on the Britney Spears "Cruci-fixins" plot we noted last week. E! Online News reports:
Earlier this week, NBC issued a press release touting Spears' guest appearance on the sitcom. Per the Peacock's PR department, Spears, in her first television outing since having a baby, would appear on the Apr. 13 episode playing a religious conservative TV personality who winds up cohosting a talk show with Jack (Sean Hayes). Spears' character, the release said, would emcee a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."
Faster than you could say, "Oops, they did it again," NBC was facing another beef from the American Family Association.
The conservative Tupelo,Mississippi-based group, whose protests helped lead to the cancellation of the network's The Book of Daniel, was ready to call for a boycott of NBC, saying the Spears-fronted episode "mocks the crucifixion of Christ" and "further denigrates Christianity" because the show airs the night before Good Friday. The AFA is urging its supporters to contact NBC affiliates and demand they not broadcast it.
American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother.
They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine gun fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those left alive to Abu Ghraib prison where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv.
In the wake of riotous protests in Europe over anti-Muhammad cartoons, rest assured NBC is still devoting to mocking everything sacred to Christians, even though they just cancelled "Book of Daniel." The American Family Association, which led an anti-"Daniel" campaign, is going to campaign against the gay sitcom "Will and Grace," which will feature Britney Spears playing a conservative Christian. Associated Press briefly describes the "humor" within:
Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."
Susan Jones has more from CNSNews.com here. Let's see how the media treat this outbreak of religious "humor" in the news. They ought to love this story with the complete congruence of Britney Spears and Christian-right mockery. Brent Bozell has described the entertainment media's odd treatment of organized religion (through Caroline Eichenberg's one-year study of TV religion plots) here.
In a country where freedom of the press is nearly absolute, it's always funny to see media figures act as if their speech is under threat by the mere fact that a Republican occupies the White House, as if by sheer force of his presence in a position of power, George W. Bush by thought alone (amazing considering his tremendous alleged stupidity), can see to it that all contrary speech is snuffed out of existence.
One media figure has enough of a tendency to do this alone but get a room full of them together and the paranoia and political naivete are thick enough to cut with a knife. Newsweek obtained such a result a few days ago when it got several Oscar nominated directors together for a chat. George Clooney and Steven Spielberg provided the bilge to go along with the coffee:
There are now three possible conclusions on how James Frey's lies in "A Million Little Pieces" got past Oprah (the first two are from this post, the third is Oprah's creation yesterday):
Number 1 -- She runs an operation that's so intimidating that people within her company who knew better felt they couldn't speak out.
Number 2 -- She knew about Frey's Lies and has been an active though conceivably unwitting(words added today--Ed.) participant in a monumental literary hoax.
Number 3 -- (The one used by Oprah -- see Update 3 at this post and this New York Times article from earlier today) Despite the fact that her producers knew and informed her that counselors at Hazelden in Minnesota cast significant doubt on Frey's story of his time there a full month before his first Oprah TV appearance, Oprah went ahead because Frey's publisher "reassured" her that the book was accurate.