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Hollywood-heads: The Oscars

Oscar for best documentary feature goes to a film, ‘Taxi ride to the Dark Side’, about how evil Americans torture people to death in Afghanistan – no doubt at the command of the evil Darth W. Bush.

And Oscar for best documentary short goes to a film about lesbian pension rights.

Hollywood has become a parody of itself.

56 comments to Hollywood-heads: The Oscars

  • Nick M

    The web site says it all…

    There is an awful lot about fashion and the technical Oscars are relegated to a rather less flashy footnote without pictures. Of course we value all these wizards behind the scenes but we can’t have pictures of geeks cluttering up the beautiful people…

    A short documentary on lesbian pension rights. I think I’ll wait for the DVD.

  • RAB

    You get a pension for being a lesbian?
    Christ! we have come a long way…

  • jon

    Would it be a parody of blogs and bloggers to wonder if you saw the winning films?

  • Jacob

    Hollywood reflects the state of mind and the issues that worry people nowadays. Maybe not all people, but a good chunk of them.
    Id definitely does reflect on the state of Western Culture, which is nothing to be happy about.

  • Monty

    Roger Simon reports that the documentaries are only voted on by a relatively small self-selecting subset of the academy, hence the disproportionate clout of a few members with a particular axe to grind.

    http://rogerlsimon.com/

  • Pensioner Lesbians. Now there’s a niche market ripe for exploiting. I am buying lesbianpensioners.com right this minute.

  • TTMYGH

    > Hollywood has become a parody of itself.

    True, but not much more so than the spectacle of a putatively libertarian blog glibly dismissing a state’s use of torture.

    Keep fighting The Man about that fascistic smoking ban, though.

  • jon

    Samizdata’s entry for next year’s Short Feature competition sample dialogue: “Hey! Your waterboarding put out my cigarette! This is an outrage!”

  • Rutger

    But don’t you know? Hollywood spreads conservative american values! Chomsky says so!

  • True, but not much more so than the spectacle of a putatively libertarian blog glibly dismissing a state’s use of torture.

    Oh I am all for decrying the state’s use of torture but I just wonder why this movie beat out all those other movies about Islamist savagery and all the people in Iraq and Afghanistan killed by Islamists… oh yes, silly me, that would be because those movies never got made.

    Do you not see a certain disconnect here? I would stop believing the media elite in the west were not really trying to seek out truth and expose it as much as on the other side if movies got made about all the bad guys rather than just the American ones.

    Or is BDS too strong to see that might be the reason for suggesting Hollywood is a parody of itself.

  • Id definitely does reflect on the state of Western Culture, which is nothing to be happy about.

    Not really. People have been staying away from these films in droves, which indicates they’re being made by the “useful idiots” among the idiotarian left for the idiotarian left (a circular self-referential group that makes libertarians seem like extroverted town criers with Tourette’s syndrome by comparison). This stuff passes through the broader Western consciousness with about as much impact as this morning’s piss.

  • Are the Oscars any relation to the Nascars

  • Perry is right. As to lesbians seeking pensions rights, I really don’t see what the problem is, except for the fact that the state is supposed to grant such right to lesbians, or anyone else for that matter, in the first place.

    Albion: I don’t know about that. Most people don’t see documentaries in theaters, no matter what the subject matter is. There are many good documentaries being made all the time, but most are watched on TV, rather than in theaters. On the other hand, there is the Inconvenient Lie Truth, which did rather well in theaters, if one to believe the buzz. And then there is always Michael Moore.

    Nick; isn’t fashion what the ceremony is mostly about? Speaking of which, how come so many beautiful and rich women end up dressed so badly? Note to Mid: Cameron was one of the few notable exceptions.

  • jon

    I loved Jon Stewart’s comments regarding the need for Hollywood to continue to make anti-Iraq War films. If you missed them, seek them out.

  • Nick M

    Well, yes it is mainly about fashion but doesn’t that seem a little daft. I mean can you imagine London fashion week and all the talk was about the model’s favourite movies…

  • J

    Keep fighting The Man about that fascistic smoking ban, though.

    Tee Hee.

    We used to have the society pages. Now we have Hollywood. So it goes. Loopy as the Hollywood crowd all are, they keep churning out amazingly successful stuff that us more serious and sensible people go and pay to see. Strange, is it not?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    For what it is worth, there definitely is mileage in movies defending civil liberties and demonstrating the dangerous tendencies of big governent, even if well intentioned big government. There have been a few half-decent moves on that score lately, such as V for Vendetta and Minority Report. Both have flaws but are pretty good; the latter is a good warning about the dangers of governments trying to remove all risk from life.

    I want to see No Country for Old Men; I am glad the actress who portrayed Edith Piaff won an Oscar; she was bloody amazing as the little French crooner.

    More generally, I do not get too hot and bothered about the Oscars; the Hollywood establishment is losing some of its power; the same forces that brought us blogging, YouTube and home-brewed beer are affecting movie-going habits. Some of the best artistic talent is not focusing on big budget films any more but on things like computer games. Let’s not get depressed – there’s all to play for.

  • Loopy as the Hollywood crowd all are, they keep churning out amazingly successful stuff that us more serious and sensible people go and pay to see. Strange, is it not?

    Stuff produced in Hollywood gets smaller and smaller by the year as a proportion of released films, so maybe not. And I usually find anyone who calls themselves serious and sensible are usually serious but rarely sensible.

  • Eric

    TTMYGH, Is there any evidence “The State” has a policy promoting torture in Afghanistan, as opposed to the normal amount of bad behavior that always happens during war?

  • moonbat nibbler

    Jon Stewart and his war (along with other political) gags:

  • I just wonder why this movie beat out all those other movies about Islamist savagery and all the people in Iraq and Afghanistan killed by Islamists… oh yes, silly me, that would be because those movies never got made.

    Actually, there have been several films made about Islamist savagery in the last several years. One in particular -Submission- resulted in the murder of one of the filmmakers. When Hollywood decided to ignore the death of one of their fellow filmmakers because it might have been used as support for the war against Islamist savagery, that told me all I needed to know about the seriousness of the Academy.

    God help us if we are depending on Michael Moore and Company to stand up and tell the truth about who it is we are fighting. It is obviously one hell of a lot easier to write AbuGhraib Part II, This Time It’s Personal!

    And then they had the nerve to use US Troops as props to present an award. Fuck Hollywood and the horse they rode in on.

  • Alisa,

    there is the Inconvenient Lie Truth

    This is a documentary ? I don’t think so. It’s more of a horror movie, like Godzilla.

  • Jacob: sorry, have not seen either one:-)

  • Daniel

    God help us if we are depending on Michael Moore and Company to stand up and tell the truth about who it is we are fighting. It is obviously one hell of a lot easier to write AbuGhraib Part II, This Time It’s Personal!

    And therein lies the rub, where else to turn, when those protecting us lie there fucking arses off all the time, instead of telling it straight.

  • James Waterton

    Johnathan – I don’t think they were “anti-government” movies; more anti right-wing government movies. The fact that we find that they underscore what we claim are the dangers of big government is quite accidental.

    For example, this blog has made mention of the movie Wall Street, and Gordon Gekko’s famous speech. Sure, we might be thinking it’s great, but that speech was intended to be chilling to its target audience – and it succeeded. That movie didn’t promote the image of the free market; it damaged it. Our approval was completely unintended and irrelevant. The movie hit the mark it was supposed to – ditto V for Vendetta and other anti-government films that have been released lately. They all tack left – even if there are elements in them that libertarians may approve of. The message to most viewers is “look what happens when right-wing, conservative governments spin out of control, so don’t vote for those guys” – the alternative being big government liberalism, which is terribly caring and sharing and couldn’t possibly morph into a hideous, violent, discriminative beast.

  • big government liberalism…

    Using the American definition there.

  • Paul Marks

    Hollywood did indeed ignore the murder the Dutch filmaker of “Submission”.

    He was not even mentioned in the bit at the Oscars for that year where the deaths of people in the film business (in the United States and overseas) were paid tribute to.

    In fact Hollywood even managed to turn the murder of Daniel Pearl (the Wall Street Journal journalist murdered by terrorists) into an anti-American film. His father was disgusted – I watched him discuss the film.

    As for me – yes indeed, like the vast majority of people (libertarians and non libertarians) I did not see any of the films that that Hollywood gave prizes to this year.

    The last but one film I went to see was “The Brave One” – liberal actress, Jodie Foster, and liberal corporate maker (Time Warner – who own Time magazine and so on). However, the critics HATED the film – which indicated to me that it might be worth watching. It was indeed quite good.

    I say “last but one” as I also recently went to the local cinema to see the latest “Rambo” – I had seen the actor discussing Burma on television and he was intelligent and knowledgeable, and I also wanted to see how he dealt with ageing (tough on an action star).

    However, the local cinema was not showing “Rambo” and there was nothing else on that I wanted to see.

  • Sam

    No only has the American public tuned out of Hollywood movies, but they also tuned out of the Academy Awards show. Lowest. Viewership. Ever.

  • Panther

    I’ve never heard of it. What is hollywood? ;-)

  • Troll Feeder

    James Waterton 2008-02-26 03:01:

    “I don’t think they were “anti-government” movies; more anti right-wing government movies”

    Why do you claim that the governments in those movies were right-wing? Given that it is the left who call for speech codes; no arms for the people, only for the state; state control of all aspects of life; etc. those governments seemed explicitly fascist (i.e. left-wing) to me.

  • Floyd

    Would it be a parody of blogs and bloggers to wonder if you saw the winning films?

    The only way I would watch a documentary about lesbian pensioners is if they were lipstick lesbian pensioners

  • Hollywood has pretty much given up on mainstream America as audience. They were astonished at the success of Forrest Gump, which illustrated mainstream values, but that success was not enough to change direction. They are making money on these anti-American films through foreign distribution. That raises the question of what the consequences might be for the future of this stream of self-hating propaganda by American filmmakers. I suspect they have far more to do with America’s status in the world than does George Bush. Then rest of the world may actually believe we think this way and that is a scary prospect.

  • holdfast

    You’ll note that Mr. Hnks referred to those poor little detainees as “political prisoners”, another big F’n lie. Even if you disapprove of any use of torture against Al Quaida members, you cannot believe that these guys are political prisoners – a term usually reserved for librarians, writerss and others intellectual types tossed into gulags for thinking or writing the wrong thing, not for plotting to blow up civillians, hacking off heads on TV etc. Of course, their buddy Castro knows all about locking up librarians and writers.

  • Ann

    Loopy as the Hollywood crowd all are, they keep churning out amazingly successful stuff that us more serious and sensible people go and pay to see. Strange, is it not?

    Really? I work in the industry and know better. The powers that be are in a panic. (Link)

  • Ann

    They are making money on these anti-American films through foreign distribution.

    Actually, that’s wrong too. These films are losers in foreign markets too. I actually read the box office numbers and it really bugs me that people who don’t keep selling that myth.

  • MarkJ

    Re: documentaries.

    Samuel Goldwyn said it best about Hollywood “message films”:

    “If you want to send a message, use Western Union.”

  • norton

    True, but not much more so than the spectacle of a putatively libertarian blog glibly dismissing a state’s use of torture.

    The point of a libertarian blog is to comment how a government treats it’s own citizens. I haven’t seen the documentary, but I’ll assume that the evil American government is being blamed for torturing Taliban. While I won’t defend that practice, because I haven’t seen the documentary, it seems that that would fall outside the purview of this blog.

    Unless the purpose of this blog is to decry all the world’s injustices.

  • Yes, but are the lesbians in the flick HOT ?

  • Thomass

    Posted by Eric at February 25, 2008 09:18 PM

    “TTMYGH, Is there any evidence “The State” has a policy promoting torture in Afghanistan, as opposed to the normal amount of bad behavior that always happens during war?”

    Nope (as in nope, your right), the newspeak on the matter was that since the Bush admin did not give detainees full Geneva Convention protections (including the protections from particular Geneva treaties the US has not signed) this was the cause of torture. Even though people who did these things were told to treat their prisoners humanely and/or violated other orders about how to treat prisoners…

    Ergo, now that it has happened in a few cases, it is just a ‘fact’ that it was state policy… at least with the usual suspects.

  • Jenn M.

    What are you guys crying about? At least Michael Moore lost! The other phony documentarians got sick of him hogging their phony documentary category.

    And one of the most-nominated films was a picture about a hipster teenage girl who DIDN’T have an abortion! (And this year Hollywood made TWO big hits about young women NOT having abortions)

  • mishu

    If these two were really serious about relieving the victims of torture, they should donate the proceeds to that film here:

    http://www.spiritofamerica.net/cgi-bin/soa/project.pl?rm=view_project&request_id=149

    I won’t hold my breath.

  • ATM

    There have been a few half-decent moves on that score lately, such as V for Vendetta and Minority Report. Both have flaws but are pretty good; the latter is a good warning about the dangers of governments trying to remove all risk from life.

    V was very pretty left-wing propaganda, but very transparent. I also can’t agree that Minority Report was a good warning about the governments trying to remove risk. The writers set out to do that, but they failed because the mechanism that villain used to frame Tom Cruise’s character could not possibly work. Simply hiring some guy to pretend he was the kidnapper of the son of Cruise’s character’s and toss some photos of the kid on his bed in an apartment that Cruise never would have seen except for the fact that the psychics predicted the murder could not possibly have led to the psychics actually predicting the murder which set off a complicated chain of events that eventually put Cruise in that room. The truth is that the script writers inadvertently created a world with a perfect system for predicting future murders. But then they tried to create flaws in that system to prove the thesis that you approve of.

  • Oh I am all for decrying the state’s use of torture but I just wonder why this movie beat out all those other movies about Islamist savagery and all the people in Iraq and Afghanistan killed by Islamists… oh yes, silly me, that would be because those movies never got made.

    Perry, the perfect is the enemy of the good. The problem with libertarians (of whom I’m one) is that we seem to have even more difficulty than most in accepting this.

    A movie decrying state torture won an Oscar. Be happy! Perhaps they’ll show it on recreation night in Russian mental hospitals.

  • Kar98

    Why did John Stewart change his name from Jonathan Leibowitz?

  • Don

    Hollywood is becoming the Oldsmobile Division of the entertainment industry. Meanwhile over at the productive division with growth to attract serious investors in the future –

    “This just in: the U.S. video games industry shot up an astonishing 43% in 2007 with chart-busting performance in every product category. You’ve heard me mention record-breaking figures to come? How’s $17.9 billion (versus $12.53B in 2006) in total sales grab you?”

    “Top Selling Games, 2007

    4.8m – Halo 3 [Xbox 360]
    4.1m – Wii Play [Wii]
    3.0m – Call of Duty 4 [Xbox 360]
    2.7m – Guitar Hero III [PS2]
    2.5m – Super Mario Galaxy [Wii]
    2.5m – Pokemon Diamond [DS]
    1.9m – Madden NFL ’08 [PS2]
    1.9m – Guitar Hero 2 [PS2]
    1.8m – Assassin’s Creed [Xbox 360]
    1.8m – Mario Party 8 [Wii]”
    http://blogs.pcworld.com/gameon/archives/006324.html

    Oh, an Call of Duty 4 – modern conflict in the old tradition of long forgotten in Hollyweird – Americans and British good guys taking down the rogues in the world – post-Stalinist and Islamists. Halo is SciFi but still basically the same theme. Wonder where all those 16 to 38 year old males went to (after watching the ‘300’)?

  • seguin

    Oldsmobile died because it was ignored by GM (until it was too late), and then they gave up on it. (ironically, Saturn now fills the same role).

    I prefer to think of Hollywood as Airbus. A failure that people keep pumping money into.

  • Hucklebuck

    And it goes without saying that “The Lesbian Pensioners” would be a great name for either a rock band or the latest LeCarre novel.

  • Ann

    “This just in: the U.S. video games industry shot up an astonishing 43% in 2007 with chart-busting performance in every product category. You’ve heard me mention record-breaking figures to come? How’s $17.9 billion (versus $12.53B in 2006) in total sales grab you?”

    Don’t forget World of Warcraft with @ 9 million subscribers paying $15 a month. I’m not sure how many subscribers Lord of the Rings and Everquest 2 have subscribers in the 100,000s.

  • CJ Casey

    I saw Taxi to the Dark Side at the Newport Film Festival (disclosure: I’m a libertarian, usually vote Republican, and I received a free ticket and wasn’t doing anything else that evening). I usually don’t watch political films on either side of the spectrum, but I was quite impressed with this one. I thought that the filmmakers did a good job of putting things in perspective… just when the film started slanting towards the beatings and abuse that Americans were laddling out, they’d jerk the viewer back into perspective with details of what the other side was doing. Bottom line of their thesis: the military was neither prepared nor properly trained for interrogating personnel. It was a welcome relief from hearing about ignorant bloodthirsty ‘murricans.

    I’ve been a military man for over seventeen years, and while I haven’t seen anything quite as drastic as what happened in Baghram or Abu Graib, I have seen an occasional tendency of senior and general officers to push people into situations for which they’re not ready and essentially tell them to just ‘fake it.’ In this case, soldiers were overworked and told to do something they just didn’t know how to do, except perhaps from what they’d seen in the media on TV and movies. Regretfully, unlike Tailhook and other scandals, the responsibility for their actions stopped at the ground level and didn’t go all the way up to at least the local command level.

    For pushing that viewpoint, unlike anything else I’d heard about the war, on either side, the filmmakers deserve at least a wider distribution, if not the awards they’ve received.

  • bandit

    I loved Jon Stewart’s comments regarding the need for Hollywood to continue to make anti-Iraq War films. If you missed them, seek them out.

    They’re in the dollar bin at Blockbuster

  • willis

    “Perry is right. As to lesbians seeking pensions rights, I really don’t see what the problem is, except for the fact that the state is supposed to grant such right to lesbians, or anyone else for that matter, in the first place.”

    The state has no right to grant anyone a pension. The only right of the state is to assure that if a company grants anyone a penalty, that they not discriminate in its participation. The U.S. does an excellent is preventing discrimination in retirement plan coverage as well as other programs. I have never heard of anyone being denied participation in any plan by virtue of being a lesbian or being an anything for that matter. I have no idea what problem the maker of the film was solving, perhaps she thinks being a lesbian is such productive work it should qualify one for a pension from someone.

  • Pa Annoyed

    I thought the lesbian pension rights issue was over whether lesbians could claim a widow’s pension if their insured partner died? Insurance companies don’t hand over the widow’s pension to just anyone, you need paperwork to say you’re married. And in a lot of places, it’s tricky for lesbians to get such paperwork.

    I don’t know, I haven’t seen the film. Is that wrong?

  • Paul Marks

    “discriminate” is another word for “choose” – as in “a discriminating person”.

    People may discriminate on bad grounds (for example on the basis of baldness), but to allow freedom on the condition that people only choose the way one wishes they would is NOT to allow freedom.

    It is the old confusion between sins (such as not allowing people into your shop because they are under five feet high) and crimes – in the old sense of “crime”, i.e. aggression.

    “This is up in the clouds philosophy” – O.K. a practical example.

    Various forms of “anti discrimination” regulations are making both housing and health insurance wildly expensive in such places as California.

  • Paul Marks

    What Ann says about the movie business in Hollywood reminds me of a general problem with modern corporations.

    Tax law (Captial Gains tax, the death tax and so on) hits individual shareowners and pushes stock more towards institutional investors – i.e. hired managers (the people in charge of the pension funds and so on) in charge of other hired managers (the corporate high ups).

    Other regulations (going back decades) have undermined shareholder (individual or institutional) anyway – with managers being, to some extent, protected from the “threat” of the takeover of the business.

    In this situation the managers stop being so interested in profits for the shareholders – and become more interested in “stakeholders”, most noteably THEMSELVES.

    In the case of Hollywood the big stars (such as George Clooney) have a lot of say over the content of the films they are in and how they are marketed (and so on) – they are basically managers not just employees. So it is no surprise that they make many millions of Dollars even when the films they are in end up making a loss (and hitting the shareholders).

    This is “corporate corporation” on a grand scale – Hollywood likes making films about corporate corruption. But I doubt we see any films expossing the rich film people who rob the shareholders.

  • Paul Marks

    I can not match C.J. Casey’s military experience – in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

    However, I do note that the next project of the director is a film about the J.A. affair in Congress – in which he promises to expose Republican corruption (even though Democrats also took money from this lobbyist) and question “the motives” of John McCain in investigating the matter.

    In short, even when a Republican investigates the corruption of other Republicans he must be doing it for evil motives.

    The director sounds like a typical Hollywood-head to me.