This year’s Academy Awards were destined, it was believed by many, to deliver an important symbolic victory for the forces of progress over Middle America. An exceptionally talented director had taken a sad little story by a fine writer, a story of capricious fate producing human tragedy beneath the indifferent sky of a hard land, and with the magic of cinematography, transformed it into a Gay Pride Manifesto.
The Academy’s award for Best Picture was unquestionably going to a leftwing “message picture,” but the gloating of the Hollywood Homintern evidently reached a sufficiently shrill falsetto pitch that it apparently produced a backlash within the ranks of even Tinseltown’s politically correct voters. Brokeback Mountain was denied the final accolade, and Annie Proulx has responded with a meltdown in the Guardian.
The people connected with Brokeback Mountain, including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy awards, it would get Best Picture as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good. And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash – excuse me – Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver…
..For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.