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Okay. So if you’re the Academy of Motion Pictures and you have to honor one movie as the year’s best and it’s going to upset some people, who are you gonna piss off, the blacks or gays? The Oscars chose the gays. Race is an issue of utmost importance and many folks were pleased that Crash (all about race relations and stereotypes) won best picture at the recent Academy Awards. And that’s all find and dandy. And I really did enjoy Crash, too. But if a movie is going to dance around civil rights, shouldn’t it entail a minority that spans all races? Personally, I think it would have been better had Brokeback Mountain taken home the best picture award.

Did the Academy Choose the Low Road?

Okay. So if you’re the Academy of Motion Pictures and you have to honor one movie as the year’s best and it’s going to upset some people, who are you gonna piss off, the blacks or gays? The Oscars chose the gays.

Race is an issue of utmost importance and many folks were pleased that Crash (all about race relations and stereotypes) won best picture at the recent Academy Awards. And that’s all find and dandy. And I really did enjoy Crash, too. But if a movie is going to dance around civil rights, shouldn’t it entail a minority that spans all races? Personally, I think it would have been better had Brokeback Mountain taken home the best picture award.

When the Academy had an opportunity to put the gay debate front and center politically, they refused to answer the knock at the door. And believe me, people were pounding on that door. Regardless of the color of your skin, if you’re gay in this country, you’re a second-class citizen. Brokeback Mountain brought to the surface an issue that most people in this country either ignore or are ignorant of.

I blame most of the backlash against the “homosexual agenda” on the religious nuts (some might say that includes our “Commander in Chief.”). As I’ve mentioned before on these web pages, religious fanaticism should be deemed a mental disorder. Anyone who lives a life by the literal translation of stories that are thousands of years old is out of touch with reality (and, more likely, harboring all kinds of fears and insecurities).

Both Capote and Brokeback were strong movies and both, by coincidence, deal with men who love men. So is Hollywood homophobic (even though so many in Hollywood are gay) or is Hollywood just not ready to be the spark to reignites the gay debate? Or is it enough that these movies even garnered a nomination?

Perhaps, on the other hand, the Academy just couldn’t make up their minds. According to movie reviewer and Hollywood know-it-all, Claudia Cohen, there were a lot more late ballots this year than in previous years. And only 80 percent of the Academy (which usually votes 100 percent) actually voted. So maybe the group of unusually good movies (also including Good Night and Good Luck and Walk the Line) made the decision just too dang tough for the voters.

Plus, the Academy did give each of the five nominated best pictures something to walk away with. Reese Witherspoon got an Oscar for Walk the Line, Hoffman for Capote, Ang Lee for Brokeback, and Clooney for Good Night. Maybe it was a simple coin toss and Crash won out when it came to best picture.

During the live TV broadcast, Jen Chaney of the Washington Post led an online chat at www.washingtonpost.com. There was both disappointment and satisfaction with Crash winning best picture. The issues raised covered the gamut from homophobia to racism to simple shock value. But Chaney made a valid point, stating that Crash is an L.A. movie. It was filmed and set in Los Angeles, had a great ensemble cast and dealt with a powerful issue. Perhaps the Academy, most of whose members live in L.A., simply related better to the movie. After all, most Hollywood types probably don’t have much in common with two closeted cowboys in Wyoming.

Yeah, I’m a little upset that Brokeback Mountain didn’t win. It would have been nice to get a sense that this country has become more tolerant of what it doesn’t understand. Or that it understands it better than we assume. Of course, they are just movies and I’m a movie fan, on my soapbox now, and maybe I just have too much time on my hands.

About Alan Kleinfeld

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8 comments

  1. “Yeah, I’m a little upset that Brokeback Mountain didn’t win. It would have been nice to get a sense that this country has become more tolerant of what it doesn’t understand.”

    That’s kind of a funny statement, isn’t it? The Academy Awards are about the quality of the film. Are you suggesting that the films be judged not by the film maker’s commitment to style but to one flavor of political sensibility? Presumably one could make a quality film that ran contrary to your political sensibilities – would that make it a bad film, even if it was a good film?

  2. Quote:”I blame most of the backlash against the “homosexual agenda” on the religious nuts (some might say that includes our “Commander in Chief.”).”

    It is perplexing that many, like you, who espouse tolerance, appear so intolerant themselves.
    Characterizing followers of a religious philosophy as “nuts”, surely doesn’t aid in paving the road to multi-cultural harmony.
    Isn’t the successful resolution of most conflicts borne out of understanding and respect for another’s perspective?
    I wonder if you are motivated to be involved in a process for meaningful change, or simply vent your frustration through demeaning rants.

  3. I think the whole thing is silly. To take two heterosexual hollywood hunks and have them kiss each other isn’t raising awareness about gays. It’s exploiting them. I hardly think the movie protrayed reality. Real gay cowboys would have it much harder (and dirtier.) I would have chosen Munich as the best film.

  4. LIked the article. This is a comment about a comment. “espouse tolerance, appear so intoloerent,” C’mon. Get over yourself. Are you trying to claim a type of “reverse racism?” Again, get over yourself. You cannot say he’s intolerant unless you’ve expericenced discrimination. Let me guess. Your white and Christian. You can abide by any philosophy to which you are personally convicted. I think it is safe to interpret “religious nuts” at EXTREME versions of philosophy pertaining to religion across the board. If you disagree, just keep listening to the gentleman behind the pulpit, don’t think for yourself, but please please whatever you believe, DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID!
    God bless us, everyone. That’s what Jesus said. Read the book again.
    Sorry to take away from your artilcle, Mr. Kleinfeld.

  5. Liked the article. This is a comment about a comment. “espouse tolerance, appear so intoloerent,” C’mon. Get over yourself. Are you trying to claim a type of “reverse racism?” Again, get over yourself. You cannot say he’s intolerant unless you’ve expericenced discrimination. Let me guess. You’re white and Christian. I believe you have the right to abide by any philosophy to which you are personally convicted. I think it is safe to interpret “religious nuts” at EXTREME versions of philosophy pertaining to religion across the board. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. Besides, the article is for entertainment and pretty well rounded. If you disagree, just keep listening to the gentleman behind the pulpit, don’t think for yourself, be a good sheep, but please please whatever you believe, DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID like they did at Jonestowne.
    God bless us, everyone. That’s what Jesus said. Read the book again.
    Sorry to take away from your artilcle, Mr. Kleinfeld.

  6. Re: Jim Glass comment
    Nope- I’m not Christian; actually I’m non-religious, although my kids attend Jewish temple school because of my wife. I’m also not a member of any political party, nor do I drink any of their Kool-aid, nor am I opposed to gay rights or gay marriage. I listen to Air America as well conservative talk radio daily. I am white, but experienced discrimination during the 60s & 70s while seeking housing and employment with my elbow-length long hippie hair. (If you’re from MT you might remember hippie beatings and sheep-shear haircuts). I also saw first hand what many of my Hispanic and black roommates went through including my black brother-in-law and gay friends.

    I’m just saying that the right & left wing extremists seem to be so filled with anger and hate that they will talk ABOUT each other, but not TO each other.
    And from what I know, when people begin to interact as just people, allot of prejudicial fears seems to disappear. Then a constructive dialog can begin and progress can be made. The religious “nuts” aren’t going anywhere unless of course there is a campaign to kill them, which is called war — not a good option in my opinion.

    Why not get to know them and understand their sense of logic and biblical interpretation. Then maybe they won’t be so scared. And maybe we all could more peacefully co-exist and channel our energies towards causes like disease, hunger, and education. Yeah, there are some that just won’t let go but as time passes they seem to die off as long as most people are heading in the same direction.

    The head of the gay & lesbian coalition gave a speech, which aired on PBS last year in which she basically said she totally understands why many people have a negative reaction to homosexuality, but when it occurs within their own families, they tend to change their views. With some work maybe we could all feel like members of the same family.

    By the way, I won’t try to guess what your background is, as you did with me, because I would probably be wrong.
    Besides, it doesn’t even matter.

  7. Hello again. I recant my unintended/misdirected disrespect to you. My background is with people who made the “reverse phobic” rebutles using similar phrases you used. The sad truth is, the EXTREME fanatics will not understand because their Bible says they cannot. (and I am only talking about the extreme, just as the author did). There is no discussion allowed “because the Bible is “very clear.” (just as it was “clear” about the rights of woman, African-Americans, BUT NEVER THE GAYS!)
    Anyway,…try remaining Jewish in a family who converted to evangelical Christianity. Enough said. So, I guess I took it personally when the comments where made.
    How would you choose between the movies which mean so much to people across the board? Tough decision. I think this artilce’s author was disappointed the Hollywood voice couldn’t affirm both evil’s of stereotyping.
    Ok, now I am rambling. Have a good one!

  8. Wow!…sounds like you may have some interesting family gatherings during the holiday season. I probably didn’t realize how much the gay community had invested in the movie. But I’m not sure if the academy’s decision should be viewed as a referendum on homosexuality. I saw Crash (because its available on DVD) and thought it should have won Best Director. Anyway, nice talking to you – and don’t let the “Nuts” get you down.