I did not watch the Oscars show last night and instead watched Manchester By The Sea. It was a pretty good movie but kind of depressing. But apparently I was not alone in skipping the show. The overnight Nielsen ratings showed a drop of 4% from last year’s show and that show was down as well. Last night was the third lowest rating for the show since 1974.
Now I don’t pretend that really know why fewer people are tuning in to watch this show but I have my own theories and they are worth about as much as anyone else’s theories. I suspect that the celebrities in Hollywood have finally crossed over a line and made the show way to political. I remember when Matthew McCanaughey thanked God for helping him get this award in 2014 and it brought criticism for saying he owed a debt of gratitude to a higher being. Today these stars and starlets have decided that they can speak for all of America when they opine on every political question. I can remember when I worked on Capitol Hill and celebrities would be brought in to testify on some subject of the day. It was standard protocol to allow them to read their statement but not really press them on the issue because it would exceed their knowledge to provide detailed answers.
There are some notable exceptions that I can remember. Michael J. Fox testified on research for Parkinson’s disease. I think he knows something about the subject. But Ben Affleck on security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Many I would love to press him on that one.
I had to call up this speech on the Internet but I watched it and I was very amused.
The award for the Best Foreign Language Film went to “The Salesman” by a director from Iran, Aasghar Farhadi. He decided not to attend the ceremony in protest of the Executive Order on travel by President Trump. Instead he had an Iranian-American woman read his statement. His statement is below:
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the academy, my crew in Iran, my producer, Amazon, and my fellow nominees.
I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”
Here is what he did not say. His country, Iran, is listed internationally as one of the largest funders to terrorism in the West. He also did not mention that in his country the women receiving awards tonight could certainly not accept their award in the dresses they were wearing. He also failed to mention that in his country, Iran, he would not dare speak out forcefully against the government because should he dare to do this he would not be getting any future awards.
In his statement he talks about wars that prevent democracy and human rights but ignores the total lack of human rights in his own nation. This is what hypocrisy looks like, on full display for the public to witness.
The news reports I have read about the rest of the show are entertaining. Apparently this turned into a bash Trump show (no surprise) and that brought the house down every time someone did it. Can you imagine these Hollywood types criticizing someone like Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton. In the former they would be accused of being racist and in the latter sexist. The reality is they are very liberal and they would never criticize someone that is liberal. A look at their political donations will tell you all you need to know.
So my suggestion to the celebrities in Hollywood and other places is to work at crafting your art and produce movies and TV shows that will entertain us. We are not really interested in your political views because we are smart enough to figure out that they are an inch deep and a mile wide. Wouldn’t you just love to have some star be in front of a Congressional Committee and have a member of Congress ask some tough follow up questions? The answers would be very entertaining.