Oscars with an Agenda

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Over time the entertainment industry and its accompanying award shows seem to have grown ever more political, and the 90th Academy Awards ceremony looks as if it will prove to be consistent with the left-leaning trend.

The Oscars event is ostensibly designed to provide recognition to the highest achievement of motion picture artistry and has conventionally been viewed as the pinnacle of award shows. This year, however, Hollywood has a number of attendant things on its collective mind, including having to atone for a host of industry wide offenses.

Nominations for Best Picture are illustrative of the ideological and cultural issues that are stoking Academy voters’ choices. A few years back the industry was assailed by critics, via a social media hashtag, with an accusation that the Academy lacked diversity in its list of nominees.

This year’s awards season has been under assault by another hashtag, which includes references to the sexual impropriety scandals that have shaken the entertainment capital to its core.

Typically during the awards season, movie studios engage in the equivalent of a political campaign complete with press releases, advertising, and opposition research.

Ironically, Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul accused of sexual misconduct by scores of women, was consistently a seminal figure of the pre-Oscar season and was frequently able to assist his companies in securing Oscar wins. In the aftermath of the serious charges, though, he was fired from the Weinstein Company, booted out of the Academy, and banished from the film business.

In the past, he was also reportedly alleged to have engaged in opposition research in order to diminish the prospects of the film “A Beautiful Mind,” which was competing at the time with the Miramax movie “In the Bedroom.” He purportedly leaked rumors to the press that central subject of the film John Nash was anti-Semitic.

Movie companies routinely use film advertisements that are tagged with the phrase “for your consideration,” seek press coverage, send voters direct mailers, set up star appearances at key industry events, hold lavish parties, and arrange screenings for voters through use of studio lot theaters, distribution of DVDs and downloads of respective films.

For months the campaigning for the 2018 Academy Awards has been in full motion, but the activity has primarily taken the form of studios and production companies touting the current political and cultural significance of their movies.

Best picture nominee, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” is a case in point. After the film debuted at the Venice International Film Festival and won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film critic community anointed the movie as a favorite in the award races.

The plot centers around perceived liberal concerns embodied in the hashtag haze that hangs over Hollywood. It may be that Oscar trophies were on the minds of filmmakers who put together a story of a mother railing against a sexist, racist, and patriarchal police force.

Some critics were less than enthusiastic about the seemingly superficiality of the politically correct plotlines of the movie.

Ira Madison III of The Daily Beast characterized the movie as “tone-deaf,” “manipulative,” and “altogether offensive.”

And Wesley Morris of The New York Times referenced the “Three Billboards” filmmakers’ Oscar pandering in the following manner: “The issues of the day come and go: brutal police, sexual predators, targeted advertising. It’s like a set of postcards from a Martian lured to America by a cable news ticker and by rumors of how easily flattered and provoked we are.”

Meanwhile another Best Picture nominee, “The Shape of Water,” which could also take the award, is a highly original movie concept but its creators apparently could not avoid shoehorning into the plot societal issues that may be on the minds of many Oscar voters. It is no coincidence that the female protagonist, Best Actress nominee Sally Hawkins, who has fallen in love with an underwater being, is provided assistance with her romantic goals by an African-American co-worker and gay neighbor.

Other Best Picture nominees sport themes that seek to attract Oscar voters. “Get Out,” a horror genre film from Jordan Peele, contains subject matter that depicts racism and cultural appropriation, while Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers movie, “The Post,” glorifies the press for standing up to attacks and features a noble and powerful female business head.

The fact that the substance of would-be Oscar winning films is so culturally and politically correct is an indication that the 90th Academy Awards show, which is slated for March 4, will no doubt be saturated with a kind of sermonizing that is likely to have Americans briskly switching channels.

Hollywood Picks ‘Man Show’ Kimmel to Host Post-Weinstein Oscars

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It is difficult to decipher what exactly is driving some of Hollywood’s questionable decisions of late.

On the heels of the entertainment industry’s choice of Anita Hill as sexual harassment czar, the announcement that former co-host of “The Man Show” and current late-night political pawn Jimmy Kimmel will once again take the Oscar stage as host of the show.

This will be Kimmel’s second consecutive year as emcee, despite the fact that the results of his last go-round were anything but stellar. The telecast scored low ratings, and there was the infamous gaffe in which “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as the winner for Best Picture, when in fact “Moonlight” was the movie that had taken the top spot.

It could be that Kimmel’s recent hyper-political correctness caught the attention of the Academy, particularly when he jettisoned comedy to do opinion pieces on controversial political topics, including health care and gun control. He purposely used his show to lobby against the effort of the Republican Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, and he received the gratitude of many on the left for helping to thwart the legislation.

CNN went so far as to declare that Kimmel was “America’s conscience.” Oddly, though, the would-be moral authority has been largely silent about the Weinstein scandal and its many offshoots.

There is a good reason for Kimmel’s reluctance to speak. Before he became the darling of the left, Kimmel and fellow comic Adam Carolla created and co-hosted “The Man Show,” a highly sexualized program, which aired on Comedy Central from 1999 until 2003.

Frequently engaging in the objectification of women and showcasing some racially-charged sketches, in a segment from one of the programs Kimmel approached women on the street and asked them to guess what he had inside his pants.

“I’ve stuffed something in my pants, and you’re allowed to feel around on the outside of the pants. You’ll have 10 seconds to then guess what is in my pants,” he said to a woman, adding that she “should use two hands.”

Kimmel later asked another female participant to “put her mouth on it,” and he made sure that another woman was at least 18 years old because “Uncle Jimmy doesn’t need to do time.”

When one of his contestants was touching him in a more aggressive manner, he told her that she was “gonna make a fine wife.”

At the end of the skit, Kimmel revealed that what he had stuffed in his pants was a zucchini with a rubber band on it.

Other crude segments featured on “The Man Show” included a faux commercial for “Bosom Springs,” a fictitious company that provided water for wet T-shirts, and a “Juggy Talent Show” in which women in sparse swimwear attire would demonstrate their implicitly sexual “talents.”

In other shows, Kimmel can be seen asking individuals he encounters on the street if they would show their underwear and enlisting advice from porn stars on domestic chores.

For the first decade or so of his ABC late-night gig, Kimmel stayed away from controversial topics and became well known for his comedic fare, including pulling practical jokes on Hollywood stars or having celebrities read mean tweets about themselves.

A politically charged Kimmel emerged in early 2017, when, after being fed Democrat talking points from Sen. Chuck Schumer, began attacking GOP legislative proposals. He also politicized the deadly Las Vegas shooting to launch into a gun control rant.

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, which owns ABC, noticed Kimmel’s departure from comedy and excursion into activism.

“That show is to entertain,” Iger told The New York Times.

Then the Hollywood executive said something that Kimmel would be wise to pay attention to as he readies himself for the upcoming Oscar hosting gig.

Iger advised, “I think he should be careful.”