William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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ABSURD CONTROVERSY – AT 11:03 A.M. ET:   The Oscar nominations were announced this week.  There were the usual surprises.  "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's depiction of the bin Laden raid, was nominated for best picture, but she wasn't nominated for best director.

That is absurd.  How can a movie be considered for best picture, but its director, its guiding force, not even be nominated?  I think the reason in this case is clear:  Kathryn Bigelow is being punished for not following Hollywood's left-wing line.

I saw "Zero Dark Thirty."  A disk was sent to me because I'm eligible to vote for some awards.  It is a very good movie, one of the best I've seen in recent years, and Jessica Chastain is brilliant in the lead.  The movie does depict enhanced interrogation techniques – rough stuff, including waterboarding – which has led to wild charges that Bigelow was defending them or even advocating them.  I didn't see a single instance where the practices were defended.  They were simply depicted.  Depicting them was vital to the story, and the director handled the scenes with high professionalism.  But that wasn't good enough for the Hollywood left.  From The New York Times:

LOS ANGELES — It’s official: “Zero Dark Thirty” is now a political football not just in the United States Senate, where several senators have been challenging its portrayal of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but also within the voting ranks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

On Wednesday, the actor David Clennon — an Academy member known for his political activism as well as for roles in the movie “J. Edgar” and the television show “thirtysomething” — posted a strong statement on the truth-out.org Web site, saying that he would shun “Zero Dark Thirty” in the Oscar voting because, as he sees it, the film expresses an “easy tolerance” of torture.

“At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions,” Mr. Clennon wrote, “I will not be voting for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ — in any Academy Awards category.”

That rare public censure of an Academy Awards contender — “Zero Dark Thirty” was nominated for five awards, including best picture, on Thursday but did not get a best director nod — provoked an equally rare response from Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which released the film in the United States.

“’Zero Dark Thirty’ does not advocate torture,” Ms. Pascal wrote in a statement circulated late Friday. She expressed support for the writer of the film, Mark Boal, and its director, Kathryn Bigelow.

Then, Ms. Pascal continued: “We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a platform to advance their own political agenda. The film should be judged free of partisanship. To punish an artist’s right of expression is abhorrent. This community, more than any other, should know how reprehensible that is.”

COMMENT:  I'm not known for my love of movie executives, but three chairs for Amy Pascal.  And cheers also to Kathryn Bigelow for making such a good movie.  She also has pointed out that depiction is not advocacy. 

Go see the movie.  Support it.  It's the closest thing we have today to a war movie in which America is the good guy and the director and screenwriter aren't afraid to point that out.

The leftists in Hollywood endlessly whine about the blacklisting of the early fifties.  They're awfully good at practicing it themselves. 

January 12, 2012