Friday, March 03, 2006

Real Westerns

I used to watch the Academy Awards, or at least I was interested enough to find out who won. I watched two years ago when the third Lord of the Rings movie swept most of the categories. I will not be watching this year. Politics have taken over the Academy, and people are voting to prove how "enlightened" they are, rather than based on the quality of the films.

Brokeback Mountain is a perfect example of this. The Actor's Screen Guild was right in passing it up, but it will almost certainly win a bunch of Oscars on Sunday. Personally, I much preferred Crash for best picture. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. Joaquin Phoenix would get my vote for best actor, for his role in Walk the Line. And why didn't Russell Crowe even get a best actor nomination for Cinderella Man?

One positive note is that Brokeback Mountain was not nominated for best documentary, even though the equally fictitious "Bowling for Columbine" won that category two years ago, again based on politics rather than merit.

Brokeback Mountain is not the only nomination which reveals Hollywood's political agenda. Other nominated films show a gay writer as a soulful artist, a transsexual as a responsible parent, a Palestinian suicide bomber as a thoughtful, conscience-driven activist, greedy oil company executives as, well, greedy oil company executives, and Senator Joe McCarthy as (gasp) a threat to American civil liberties. Positive representations of Christians, conservatives, or white hetersexuals are strangely missing.

Brokeback Mountain is popular in Hollywood because it is an attack on the American history of the west as a place of rugged individualism where the men are, well, manly. Although I am not a big fan of westerns, I love the distinctly American culture they reflect. I plan to spend Sunday evening celebrating the American West by watching a true, red-blooded American Western. I have not decided on which one to watch yet, but my prime candidates are: True Grit, The Shootist, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, or Red River.

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