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The State of the Race: The Oscars in an Election Year

I’ve been doing this long enough to remember the last two or three elections through the prism of the Oscar race; no matter what side of the political fence you belong on, it’s easy to remember how the race was impacted by what was going on all around it.

The first election when I began Oscarwatching was the Bush v. Gore in 2001. It was as tumultuous as any we’ve had since. The election was eventually thrown in favor of the Republicans by the partisan Supreme Court, and became a moment in history that held the public in its thrall — it’s hard to believe it even happened that way and it marked what many of us consider a dark moment in history where the powerful corporations began controlling politics. It took Obama, really, to break the spell finally. Incidentally, much of what fueled Bush’s victory (other than voter fraud) was the assault on President Clinton by the GOP regarding a subject that should have remained private — the Monica Lewinsky scandal took vital energy, attention and resources away from our leader at a time when we needed him most; not nine months after Bush was inaugurated and we were hit by al-Qaeda. Soon after that, so-called weapons of mass destruction, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Exhaustive, expensive, with a current death toll of American soldiers – exceeding 6,500.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that Gladiator would be the America fuck-yeah movie to win Best Picture that year. Of course, 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. But it feels somehow fitting that Gladiator would be the movie that ushered in the Bush era. Four years later, as Bush won re-election fairly, Million Dollar Baby won Best Picture. Eastwood, a conservative who made a film that wasn’t particularly conservative. The following three winners would reflect how the mood of the country, the world even: Crash, The Departed and No Country for Old Men — even if you discount Crash for having won for the wrong reasons (fear, homophobia) its placement in the uneasy aftermath of 9/11 cannot be denied. The Departed and No Country, though, were films that absolutely illustrated dead-end cynicism about our crumbling world.

Evolving concurrently were forces on the internet. Online Oscar talk was just about to explode, something that would forever change how the game was played. Still, outside influences trump inside ones. With the election of our first African-American President, there was a sense of renewed hope, the chance for change (however magical and unrealistic it may have been). How fitting, then, that the Best Picture winner turned out to be Slumdog Millionaire, a movie that summed up the collective dreamgasm going on at the time. United Fujicolors of Benetton. Things would come crashing down not soon after that.

It probably isn’t a coincidence that the the hangover of dreaming so impossibly big would manifest itself in a much more traditional Oscar winners in the fallout. While the immediate heat of The Hurt Locker spoke directly to our times (one of the few films the critics praised to the high heavens only to dump it like an ex-lover when it came to the Sight and Sound poll) earning the win in 2009, it could be argued that picking a woman for the win, after 62 long years of the male dominated Best Director/Best Picture race, was in keeping with the cultural revolution of the times. If we could have a black President, why couldn’t we have a woman winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director?

But as the excitement around Obama’s election and the subsequent collapse of worldwide financial institutions suffocated our hope for the future, so too did Oscar voters retreat back to the world they knew best: nostalgia. If you can’t look forward, by god, look back. The King’s Speech and The Artist are films that could have won Best Picture in any era, under any President.

This year, though, there is a fierce struggle of ideals playing out. The country hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War. There is long-simmering hatred reaching the boiling point. Unchecked fury from the right lobbed at our President in a show of disrespect I’ve never seen in my lifetime happens daily. There are shootings nearly every week. Our President is being blamed by whackjobs on the extreme for some of those shootings, for being a Muslim, for attempting to dismantle the very foundations on which our country was built; the whole Kenya thing seems to be weirding them out. The birthers (Donald Trump and Camille Paglia among them) are not letting up. Meanwhile, on the right, you have two unelectable suits who happened to be at the right place at the right time to ride the Obama hatred all the way into the White House, pushed forth by the Citizens United decision, which allows SuperPacs unlimited financial resources to attack either party, but of course, the GOP has the deep-pocket billionaires on its side. For the first time in our history, the incumbent will have less money than the challenger.

Moreover, the war on women rages on. The GOP continues to attempt to legislate women’s bodies, even going so far as to make laws about what constitutes “legitmate” and “illegitimate” rape. This, in order to forward the movement of making abortion illegal.

Further hurting Obama is the bad economy Republicans created and refuse to resuscitate. No President in US history has won under the cloud of such bad unemployment numbers. It doesn’t matter than the other side is compiled of unlikable men who have been caught lying on numerous occasions. They’re white and they’re different, so maybe that will be enough to derail Obama’s hopes of a two-term Presidency.

Liberals, Academy voters likely among them, have taken a look at the man they elected and decided that he didn’t perform the miracles the “magical negro” promised. He never made our student loan debt go away, he never ended the war in Afghanistan (he never said he would) and he hasn’t stood up to the frothy-mouthed gargoyles on the right, he palled around with Wall Street crooks (and with terrorists too, apparently). Whatever their reasoning, they will never accept that they had unrealistic expectations in the first place. Moreover, there are too many apathetic young people who simply refuse to vote because they don’t like either party.

It goes without saying that concurrent to the political elections, the impact of filmmaker Michael Moore has been profound in nearly every respect. No other documentarian is as willing to take on the hot button issues of our time and put them front and center like Moore. Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and even Sicko represent the crossover of politics and movies. So much so that it led to the Citizens United decision, which was like using a tank to kill a butterfly. Basically the idea is that if Fahrenheit 9/11 could be used as negative campaigning for George Bush, anyone could use their own money to make any ad — money is speech. Speech is free. That’s what people mean when they bring it up. Moore, in fact, was outspoken at the Oscars against President Bush and the War in Iraq in a now-famous speech (one of the many reasons Moore is my personal hero and most admired patriot) — listen to the crowd boo. Moore’s stance later was vindicated, of course:

Republicans, because we have a conservative Supreme Court, almost as corrupt as the court during Lincoln’s time, have used the Citizens United decision to fund and make this racist monstrosity:

The difference between Fahrenheit 9/11 and Obama’s America 2016, is that one depicts the truth and one doesn’t. One is an opinion about an event and a President about a war most Americans now agree was based on unfounded evidence. The other is rabid fabrication.

Whether you think they’re different or whether you think they’re alike, maybe it depends on which side of the political divide you find yourself. But you can’t deny that this unbridgeable rift won’t have an impact on this year’s race.

Already, two films have had their release dates shifted to avoid being associated with the presidential election. Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the capture of Osama Bin Laden, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Funnily enough, one of the producers on Obama’s America 2016 has his name on Schindler’s List, Spielberg’s own Oscar winning film. That is, one assumes, supposed to lend the film some credibility.

Zero Dark Thirty is already at the epicenter of partisan bickering — the right doesn’t want to give Obama any of the credit for the capture of Bin Laden. Moreover, they are continuing to blame his administration that led to security leaks that were part of the research for the film. “Security leaks” must be in quotes. It is clearly an attempt to associate Obama not with the capture of Bin Laden but as yet more evidence that he is anti-American, someone who can’t be trusted, someone who is Kenyan-born and a socialistradicalmuslim who would be so evil as to pretend he pulled the strings of a mad shooter in Aurora, Colorado so that his frightening gun laws could be passed on an unsuspecting public.

Lincoln, of course, is significant. If you’ve been reading along with our book club choice (900 paged Team of Rivals, which is slow-going for me but worth every minute) you’ll see many similarities to America then and America now. When race is involved, Americans can’t really get a handle on it. You saw how bad it got on this site last year in the fight between the deserving Viola Davis and the not-so-deserving Streep (though who can begrudge her the win). Race is the one subject guaranteed to make most Americans lose their shit — the defensiveness, the guilt, the ongoing shame, the resentment — our past is shameful. It is beyond shameful, in fact. But the same sort of unfounded fear of “the black man” getting any rights echoes still today in the way the extremists on the right are reacting to the President. That all of these years later we have an African-American in the White House is significant.

What we don’t know for sure is why Spielberg felt that Lincoln would influence the election. By the time film opens there will already have been reviews and stories about it prior to the November election so it’s possible that it could shift a few things. Or either film could be deemed not good enough for Oscar. We just don’t know yet.

Oscar voters like George Clooney have come out with public support for Obama, while Clint Eastwood has endorsed Romney. But it’s possible that the election will have no impact at all on Oscar mentality and that voters will opt instead for fantasy or nostalgia, the flavor of the month.

Either way, if you’re paying attention you must know that the election will frame the debate over much of what happens this year. It already has.

106 Comments on this Post

  1. joeyhegele

    I have always believed if John Kerry had won the election in 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11 would have been nominated for Best Picture. However, Bush’s relection caused the Academy to fear embracing such a strong rebuke of the President.

    Likewise, I think if Obama is re-elected, Zero Dark Thirty will be nominated for Best Picture. If he loses, its chances dwindle but are not completely gone. I also believe we will be hearing quite a bit more about this charge against Obama that he leaked sensitive information to the filmmakers. It will be interesting to see if it has an actual effect on the election like the swiftboating of John Kerry, or if people rise above such dirty attacks.

    Either way, I am really looking forward to Zero Dark Thirty. It looks like a fascinating story made by an impressive team of filmmakers.

  2. rufussondheim

    I won’t begrudge the historical inaccuracies in the piece since they are minor, because overall the essay hits a lot of the right notes. What I do find troubling, though, is the implication that the elitist and out of touch Academy has its finger on the zeitgeist of America. Could it be? I’ll let others comment on that thought.

    The one thing I know is the similarity of the Oscar race and The election. There’s a driving narrative for both that’s decided by a few and isn’t terribly accurate in retrospect. And that ballots are usually filled out by the uninformed. Rumor and innuendo determine the winner of each far more than does solid research and smart conclusions.

  3. I understand that social issues and politics can be influential in what films are popular and critically acclaimed but can’t we just say something will be nominated or win an Academy Award because it is just simply good? I really don’t think the election of a President is going to sway voters from nominating Zero Dark Thirty (for example) if it is a good film.

  4. Kevin Klawitter

    What does it say about the state of our news and filmmaking industry that movies like “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty” were moved because the filmmakers are known to be liberal and the studios didn’t want to make it look lilke they were trying to influence the election (even though “The Hurt Locker” was completely apolitical and Spielberg’s films, “Munich” excluded, are only political in the sense that being humanist is political) and yet right-wing films like “2016: Obama’s America” and “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” are being released before the election, and in the case of AS2, EXPLICITLY to influence voters. Where is the outrage against THOSE movies?

    Also, one should look at the other movies that will be released and are expected to garner Oscar buzz. “Les Miserables” can be seen as both left-wing AND right-wing because of its themes of discrimination against the poor and building yourself up through pluck and determination. “Argo” is probably going to be Apolitical, but a drama/thriller about a CIA mission during the Iranian Hostage Crisis is going to be controversial nonetheless, “Django Unchained” probably won’t be overtly left-wing or right wing, but will be controversial because of how Tarantino portrays slavery and the wealthy whites in the south. “Hyde Park on Hudson”, though it follows FDR, Christ to those of us on the Left and Antichrist to the Right, looks to be more of a seriocomic character study than anything political. “The Sessions” won’t have any political statement, I don’t think, though some fundamentalist religious types might speak out against it. I don’t know enough about “The Master” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to read anything political into them at all.

    Then, there are “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Lincoln”. ZDT will probably be like THL, apolitical but impossible to avoid accusations of bias simply because of the subject matter (along with the meaningless crap that’s already been thrown at it). “Lincoln” will be a little different… Spielberg has described it as more of a “procedural”, and we know it’s about how Lincoln pushed the 13th Amendment through the Legislature, so there’s sure to be a political element in there, and there are a lot of talented actors who play Senators and Congressmen, so there’ll probably be a lot of debate and backroom dealings. I’m thinking something along the lines of “John Adams”. It will certainly have a perspective, but it will be based on Lincoln’s perspective (Tony Kushner, who wrote the screenplay, has talked about how he was impressed by Lincoln’s “overlooked radicalism”) Whether or not this will be portrayed as something connected to our day and age is impossible to determine, especially since the Berg has been developing the film for close to a decade, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is at least SOME sort of statement referring to the danger of extremism and a dichotomous legislature. A “House divided”, if you will.

  5. rufussondheim

    The Hurt Locker is not apolitical.

    No movie, no book, no song, no art form is apolitical.

    If you think differently, you haven’t thought about it enough.

  6. Kevin Klawitter

    Having a perspective is not the same thing as being political.

    “The Hurt Locker” is against war, but very much empathetic with the soldiers who fight it. That’s not a political statement, at least not one that can be directly associated with the Left or the Right.

  7. Ryan Adams

    Have to disagree, Kevin. The Hurt Locker showed us the personal devastation caused by a specific war needlessly waged by Republicans.

    It’s not saying, “Gosh, wars like Iraq and WWII sure are awful.”

    It’s saying, “This shit didn’t have to happen. But Cheney & Co. wanted it, and here’s what it’s doing to people.”

  8. How did Gladiator seem to usher in the Bush era? Although that was a rougher subject then something like The Artist, that movie is absolute escapism. It was a sword and sandals epic that seemed fresh considering a film like that hadn’t been made in a number of years. Are we going to say Braveheart was escapist during Clinton’s administration? The movies are very similar in their core issues and vengeance-fueled protagonists. I think we are looking way too deeply into how a film connects to a specific President. It won because people liked it.

  9. Michael Moore is a whack job and Fahrenheit 9/11 is so ridiculous. Bush takes so much crap for what he did, but anyone in that decision wouldnt know what to do. And what could he have done in those first few minutes while we were under attack? Fly to NY himself to stop the buildings from collapsing? lol Geeze. Obama took weeks to to even make a decision to take out Bin Laden and he didnt even make the final call. So that tells me that Obama would have been worse in the 9/11 situation. Obama has been a terrible President and will completely destroy our country if reelected. Im an independent, but for this election I 100% republican. Romney 2012!!!! He will bring back change Obama failed to do.

  10. moviewatcher

    rufussondheim: come on? CSI Miami is political? Or Plan 9 from Outer Space? John Carter? Not every art form is political. Some are just entertainment (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  11. Ryan Adams

    Bush takes so much crap for what he did, but anyone in that decision wouldnt know what to do.

    Bush was a genius at not knowing what to do. What we’d like to see a president do is not sit there and shit his pants.

    He read My Pet Goat for 7 minutes after he got the news. I agree, he was always helplessly impotent to do anything, ever. But he might at least have got up to see if there was anything he could pretend to be doing.

    “Didn’t want to alarm the children,” my ass. If he could’ve stood up and handled his exit like an adult, nobody would be alarmed. I suppose he was worried he might get mixed up about the classroom door. That woulda been scary, I agree.

  12. moviewatcher

    Evan: Don’t you ever mention Gladiator and Braveheart (the movie who won BP over the super-historically-accurate, amazing masterpiece Apollo 13) in the same sentence.

    Jerm: Prediction: you will be voting democrat in four years, or not voting at all.

  13. julian the emperor

    “they will never accept that they had unrealistic expectations in the first place.”

    Obama’s pathos-laden discourse throughout his campaign, inflated those expectations up to a breaking point, don’t you think? He was responsible for that. He chose to talk about vague abstractions like “hope” and “change” sounding like a methodist preacher all the while. I cringed every time I heard him, knowing full well that he wouldn’t be able to deliver on that promise.

    Sure, people who believed in him, were stupid. They shouldn’t have believed in him. Simple as that. Never trust a guy who is running for office. Especially not with all the money involved in American politics (and campaigning).

    You failed to mention Guantanamo, Sasha. I think Obama deserves to be tried at the war tribunal in Hague for failing to close that down. But that’s my opinion. That’s the hard thing about being president of the USA. The rest of the world will always have an opinion on you and most would like to see you tried for something criminal. That’s the name of the game. But, nonetheless. What’s going on at Guantanamo is criminal and as the person in charge, Obama should pay a price.

    I sincerely hope Obama makes it in november, because the alternative is so much worse. But I cannot feign a lot of respect for the guy. And to a large degree he IS indeed responsible. His rhetorics were skewed from the get-go and in that sense he failed. Either by being unrealistic in his approach to taking office and what that meant (he is a politician after all, not a spiritual leader or a CEO), or in failing to live up to his goals. It is either of the two.

    Politics should never be about the amount of “hot air” you can spew forth. And Obama, whether or not you find him sympathetic or at least the preferable option, is a master of “hot air”. He is a skilled rhetorician, to be sure, but that doesn’t make him a better policymaker (although I know having to deal with the Republicans’ constant obstructions of efficient policy-making is a grim prospect for just about anyone).

    Ultimately, there is a flaw in your political system. You should address that. When the political culture is twisted to a halt, who cares who the leader is. He is just a figurehead on a sinking ship.

    Also, on another note: The Hurt Locker is an anti-war film, sure, but an indictment of the ones responsible for that particular war? I don’t know. As a great piece of cinema, it wasn’t concerned about indictments, but about characters, tension, depiction. I don’t think there is anything in that film, that would make me think “Oh, that Cheney guy, he sure is an asshole”. If it had been, I wouldn’t have liked it as much, because it would have been a lesser film.

  14. moviewatcher

    julian the emperor: Obama’s first 2 years were focused on healthcare, he lost the midterm election because of that. then, the republicans blocked the Guantanamo prison plan with some law in 2010.

  15. It’s extraordinary how some people just don’t get it. This is a great essay, Sasha, and one would hope that, were it circulated through every household in the US, it’d be read and understood. I can’t get my head around how some people can pay so little heed to the facts and to common sense, and so much heed to selfish, fundamentally unfair political ideologies and policies.

    In most Western nations, the Republican party would be a source of ridicule, far too right-wing to ever be regarded as a party of any integrity. That it can hold so much sway over so many people makes me sad for the human race.

  16. julian the emperor

    The Democrats would be a right-wing party in Europe as well, Paddy M. Just saying. Every elected parliamentarian in Denmark would think of themselves as being closer in spirit to Obama than Romney or any other Republican nutcase. No matter if you are right or left on the political spectrum.
    The differences between our political cultures are greater than the sum of whatever you can blame on the Republicans (which is quite a lot). It is a systemic thing.

  17. Also, I don’t know whether I find those trailers comical or despicable for their blatant racism disguised as reason. The implication is that his heritage is destroying America. Criticise Obama for the things he has done wrong, not his race. Are we still having to make this point? Surely we got past that in the 1960s?

  18. Please don’t try to put that point to me, julian. My umbrage was taken with the Republican party. I made no reference to the Democrats and I actually agree with you – the Democrats are a right-wing party. But I don’t mind conservatism, I mind political extremism, and that’s what the Republican party represents.

    Just saying.

  19. rufussondheim

    Every art form is political whether it be intentional or not. Every piece of art contains ideas, even the most minimalistic and simple pieces. Even if its intention is to just entertain and it’s about going out and having fun on a Friday night, it creates a mood, a concept, a seed of an idea in those who consume it. Even a ridiculously stupid song like Friday by Rebecca Black (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfVsfOSbJY0) reinforces an anti-intellectual hedonistic mindset.

    We are products of culture, our minds are formed by what we encounter by what we consume. Art is extraordinarily political, even if it’s not obvious to you.

  20. julian the emperor

    To me, political extremism is pro-life, pro-death penalty, upholding something like Guantanamo, not doing anything to enforce gun control etc. That is, de facto, the Democratic party line, isn’t it?

    Other than that, America is based on a set of values that differ from what you find in Europe, particularly compared to Scandinavia. I respect that. And it doesn’t mean that we cannot find a common ground on lots of issues. Obama, in that sense, is a reasonable leader and a good representative for the US abroad (and that goes for Hilary as well, arguably to an even greater extent).

  21. I wonder if The Hunger Games would have fared better critically in a non-election year. My sense is that pictures that ask marginally less partisan questions and more refined sociopolitical ones rate lower than normal, especially when there are elements of the effect and use of propaganda, public opinion and the whole symbolic order of war involved. I’m not sure I’ve seen a narrative film that tackles these ideas quite so bluntly in a while.

  22. Ryan,

    In this era of NUCLEAR WAR being a push-button away, I still find it reprehensible that George Bush, after being told that “the nation has been attacked” by the security guard, SAT there.

    In my mind, that should have been an impeachable offense for the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

    We could have all been blown to smiterheens while he sat there with that dumb-ass look on his face trying to read goat material.

    It still galls me. When Michael Moore inserted the full minute-by-minute delay in 9-11, I literally got sick at my stomach witnessing Bush’s incompetetence. He could at least have raised himself out of his chair and exited the room to find out what the hell was going on.

    “Mr. President, the nation is under attack.” Any normal person would GET OFF HIS ASS and find out pronto what was going on.

    That’s all I have to say about it.

  23. steve50

    I’ve compared some of the results of the past election years and come up with some interesting comparisons:
    1960 – JFK elected and The Apartment wins (adultry was treated much kinder then)
    1964 – LBJ elected and My Fair Lady wins (attempt to make an aristocrat from a cockney/hayseed)
    1968 – Nixon elected and Oliver! wins (dubious manipulator of innocents set to music)
    1972 – Nixon re-elected and The Godfather wins (enough said!)
    1976 – Carter elected and Rocky wins (power to the little guy)
    1980 – Reagan elected and Ordinary People wins (son unfairly blamed by cold-hearted mother/ country throws out Carter with similar sentiment)
    1984 – Reagan again and Amadeus wins (riotous times in court)
    1988 – Bush I elected and Rain Man wins (can’t say anything without being un-PC)
    1992 – Clinton elected and Unforgiven wins (gunslinger cleans house)
    1996 – Clinton again and The English Patient wins (again, adultry not such a bad thing)
    2000 – Bush II elected and Gladiator wins (evil son of the emperor steals the country)
    2004 – Bush II again and Million Dollar Baby wins (can’t believe either happened, honestly)
    2008 – Obama elected and Slumdog Millionnaire wins (too obvious)

  24. The Hurt Locker is about an adrenaline junkie. It’s not about any specific war

  25. steve50

    Agree with Rashad 100%. Completely a character study. The Hurt Locker is one of the most apolitical war movies ever made.

  26. There is so much wrong with this article. Give me a couple of minutes ladies and gentlemen….

  27. I want to preface what I’m about to write with the following: Sasha, as owner of this site and a fellow United States citizen, has every right to what she wants. This article is grossly and intellectually dishonest. The ignorance and arrogance is quite astounding. So let us begin….

    “The election was eventually thrown in favor of the Republicans by the partisan Supreme Court, and became a moment in history that held the public in its thrall — it’s hard to believe it even happened that way and it marked what many of us consider a dark moment in history where the powerful corporations began controlling politics.”
    – Don’t you find it interesting that when the Supreme Court rules in Sasha’s political favor (Obamacare), they are just and moral. But when it doesn’t, they are “partisan”?
    – Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to engage in the political process, even though the makeup of U.S. corporations are filled with tax paying citizens? I find this attitude worrisome.

    “Incidentally, much of what fueled Bush’s victory (other than voter fraud) was the assault on President Clinton by the GOP regarding a subject that should have remained private — the Monica Lewinsky scandal took vital energy, attention and resources away from our leader at a time when we needed him most; not nine months after Bush was inaugurated and we were hit by al-Qaeda.”
    – It never ceases to amaze me how some will either out right lie or continue to push a political narrative that comes nowhere close to the truth. President Bush won fair and square. His campaign did not steal the election through voter fraud. Honest individuals of the Left admit this as well.
    – President Clinton, I believe it was in 1996, had the chance to take out Bin Laden. He chose not to. I don’t necessarily put blame on that President for future events that no one could have predicted. Speaking in hindsight to criticize those-who-do-not-agree-with-me is childish behavior.
    – President Clinton disgraced the White House with his sexual indiscretions. He cheated on his wife. Yet Feminists defended him. But what really sunk the President was lying about his actions in front of millions of voters. He perjured himself. He’s lucky the Senate voted for no removal from office.

    “Unchecked fury from the right lobbed at our President in a show of disrespect I’ve never seen in my lifetime happens daily. ”
    – This is the price that is paid for being President. But forgive me for having little sympathy, especially after President Bush and all the vile things that were spoken of him. It happens to every president; deal with it.

    “Further hurting Obama is the bad economy Republicans created and refuse to resuscitate. No President in US history has won under the cloud of such bad unemployment numbers.”
    – No, that was the Democrats and President Obama, who I might add had a super majority for two years. They haven’t presented a budget in three years or so. That comment is an outright lie.

    This is where Sasha gets going:

    “It goes without saying that concurrent to the political elections, the impact of filmmaker Michael Moore has been profound in nearly every respect.”
    – Honey, Michael Moore is a charlatan. He has been discredited the world over. People on the Left don’t respect him now. He just wants to overthrow our Constitution because he would be part of the Ruling Elite when the “revolution” became successful. Fools love a fool.

    And how can you call Moore a “patriot”? He hates this country. Well, insofar as unrelated to his own financial success. I don’t begrudge his right to free speech. But he has one nasty political persuasion.

    “Race is the one subject guaranteed to make most Americans lose their shit — the defensiveness, the guilt, the ongoing shame, the resentment — our past is shameful. It is beyond shameful, in fact. But the same sort of unfounded fear of “the black man” getting any rights echoes still today in the way the extremists on the right are reacting to the President.”
    – This is the most offensive comment in the article. I don’t know how you can believe this Sasha? Slavery was shameful. But how can our country both fear the “black man” but elect a biracial candidate to the highest office in the land? This is intellectually dishonest to the nth degree. Pick up a history book for once and stop regurgitating lazy Leftwing talking points. Put down the Zinn and pick up the Johnson.

    And this “War on Women” mantra is equally tiresome. Because it doesn’t exist. Feminists won. Women, on the whole, won. The 1973 decision basically created a “right” out of thin air for women, which I must point out is not available to men (I thought feminists were all about equality). Don’t even get me started on the crash and prizes women receive from the government when it comes to their relationships with men.

    I understand most here will vehemently disagree with me. That is fine. But I’m going to have a gay ‘ole time reading this site and others if Gov. Romney defeats President Obama. So for my own entertainment, keep up the hard work Sasha.

  28. Love this essay Sasha! I’m really scared about this election. As I read team of rivals, I’m on disc 23, I can’t help to notice the similarities as to how divided the nation was then and is now.

  29. Incidentally, much of what fueled Bush’s victory (other than voter fraud) was the assault on President Clinton by the GOP regarding a subject that should have remained private — the Monica Lewinsky scandal took vital energy, attention and resources away from our leader at a time when we needed him most;

    Old white guy cheats on his wife with a much younger female subordinate to him. It’s a good thing times have changed and people don’t waste their time talking about these private matters anymore.

    So if Romney wins that means which film will win Best Picture? THE MASTER? People can’t tell the difference between Mormons and Scientologists. Same question re: President Obama. Maybe “Magical Negro” was the original title of DJANGO UNCHAINED?

  30. Ryan Adams

    Sam, once again shrieking: “Intellectual dishonesty! Intellectual dishonesty!”

    And here’s the thing Sam finds “most dishonest”

    “How can our country both fear the “black man” but elect a biracial candidate to the highest office in the land? This is intellectually dishonest to the nth degree.”

    Sasha never said the whole country fears black men. Sam, you quote Sasha yourself — in the very same paragraph where you’re lying and hoping nobody notices. Here’s what Sasha said:

    “The same sort of unfounded fear of “the black man” getting any rights echoes still today in the way the extremists on the right are reacting to the President.

    Do you see the difference, Sam? I know all your best buddies are extremists on the right. So to you it seems the country is populated entirely by extremists like you. But you might be surprised to learn extremists don’t represent the whole country.

    Every point you make stinks with the same dishonest lies and word-twisting. I could bust apart every one of your whiny accusations, but I don’t have time to waste on your clumsy lies.

    You drone on and on, and pray that nobody sees what slimy tactics you use. I’ll admit it’s like cleaning out a septic tank to dredge up your sneaky misrepresentations. But I don’t mind holding my nose for 10 minutes and pulling out an example to demonstrate who’s the ugliest liar around here. It’s you. Always you.

  31. This article reminded me of the total and complete disbelief I felt waking up the morning after the 2000 election when I’d passed out drunk the night before after partying to TV stations reporting Gore the winner.

    I must never forget that feeling. It makes me complacent as I have been recently thinking no way in hell people would vote for Romney, but then clearly anything can happen….. 11/7/00 Never Forget

  32. Yes, this nation is still fighting the Civil War, some 150 years later.

  33. Sasha Stone

    Michael Moore is a whack job and Fahrenheit 9/11 is so ridiculous.

    On the contrary, it is the first and best film that exposes the dishonest and corrupt administration that mishandled 9/11 and used it to start an unjust war.

  34. Sasha Stone

    “The Hurt Locker” is against war, but very much empathetic with the soldiers who fight it. That’s not a political statement, at least not one that can be directly associated with the Left or the Right.

    It was an anti-war film, though not necessarily left or right. In the aftermath of the Iraq war you could probably find people on both sides that thought the war was wrong.

  35. For the record that poster Sam was not shrieking just expressing a different point of view,and in civil conversations that is normal and allowable or should be no matter what.As for Michael Moore’s information gathering technique for documentaries,what can one say? Is Moore a agent of truth or a humbug?He certainly thinks well of himself.Actually my take on The Hurt Locker was that its premise was that war is a drug and if so then the film didn’t tell both sides of that war,which is too bad.Hurt Locker is okay but it did the job of blocking Cameron’s Avatar from winning that Oscar.

  36. Craig Z

    Gladiator is an “America fuck- yeah” movie? Directed by a Brit, starring an Australian and taking place in Italy?

    Uh….. Explain?

  37. First of all, I’m not American. I guess I always thought that in America people were so civil and were actually able to discuss politics without accusing each other of lying every minute or so. I actually envied you, because I live in a country where there is literally no integrity left in politics, and politicians are believed to be the most disgusting people on the planet. People are so sick of it that it doesn’t really surprise me that they actually stop voting. There’s no way anyone is having a political discussion that doesn’t involve words “communist”, “fascict” and – my personal favourite: “traitor”. Well, I guess I was wrong about the States.
    And see, to me it’s just sad. To me there is no such thing as an objective truth. Not in the world of human beings, who are so flawed and limited. But I have to believe that we do have some good will inside us. (Maybe even some politicians have it, it’s just the system is so corrupted that they no longer remember it.) With that good will I try to come as close as possible to the truth, but it seems to me insanely arrogant to think that I know something for sure. I can’t make such claims, because I am limited. I am just one little person, holding a particular perspective because of who I am. I know that it sounds very relativistic, but I think people could use it every once in a while. Take a deep breath, look at things from a distance. It might work.
    Maybe what I wrote is stupid and irrelevant, but hell. I really like this site and admire the work and effort that is put in it, and it’s kinda sad to see people calling each other liars here.

  38. [i]2000 – Bush II elected and Gladiator wins (evil son of the emperor steals the country)[/i]

    LOL

  39. Funny that ROTK isn`t listed as politically-influenced win when NLC campaigned all 3 moviesd as war movies with strong ties to War on Terror. I recall there was even a moment when one of NLC bosses said straight up that good guys were America and bad guys Iraq and Viggo Mortensen refuted it as the opposite (he was wearing No Blood For Oil shirt). So I`m quite suprirsed that Gladiator is singled out as the ultimate political win when NLC pretty much wanted ROTK to be seen as politically relevant for its time.

  40. AlecFPrice

    I’m not quite sure Michael Moore was vindicated exactly for the speech he made at the Oscars. If anything, his inability to better articulate his perspective has since irrevocably damaged his credibility – such as it was.

    Obviously, a character like Moore will always take a more colourful approach and that’s perfectly fine. As a non-US citizen, I have always found him to be a supreme entertainer but an unreliable documentarian. His films make for great spectacle – and they may also feature intelligent, well-constructed theses on occasion – but he has no compunction about skewering facts to his own end.

    Again, you know what you’re getting going in so there’s no point complaining afterwards if you feel you’ve been sold a bill of goods. You have to accept the good and the bad when you sit down to watch anything produced by Moore. But the Oscar speech only seemed to exacerbate the angry liberal caricature that the right have always liked to paint him as. He made it easy for anyone and everyone to dismiss his protestations with relative ease – a situation only worsened by the hopelessly confused Capitalism: A Love Story.

    And that’s not to say that I either agree or disagree with his politics (in truth, I would veer a lot closer to his point of view more often than not), but as a neutral observer, he’s made it a lot harder for his causes to gain much-needed traction by reducing them to too broadly defined concepts that can be dismissed with alarming triviality.

    If you’re looking for reasons as to why America is so divided, it’s figures like Moore who are as much to blame as anyone else.

  41. Craig Z

    I don’t think anybody in the Academy or anybody with a brain bought the whole LOTR as War of Terror Allegory. Since, you know…. The book is over 50 years old and Tolkien stated many times that he hates allegory.

    Also Peter Jackson is from New Zealand..

    It wasn’t a factor because nobody who mattered ever bought that theory.

  42. Bob Burns

    Les Miz is as leftist as is. even got a red flag.

    great Oscar choice should the R’s steal it back.

  43. steve50

    “If you’re looking for reasons as to why America is so divided, it’s figures like Moore who are as much to blame as anyone else.”

    Moore responds to situations he thinks are unfair, unwise or unjust – he does not initiate them. His style can be abrasive, but by making a loud noise, he makes sure his points get attention.

    “I really like this site and admire the work and effort that is put in it, and it’s kinda sad to see people calling each other liars here.”

    I’m with you, Kate, but I think Ryan showed remarkable restraint responding to that ridiculous post. Too bad we don’t know anything about Sam’s taste in films because his diatrobes tend to obliterate any memory of non-political posts.

    The “left” doesn’t exist in the States. What they consider such is actually right of center when you compare to the rest of the world. I avoid watching US news during presidential elections because the dialog is ridiculous, facts don’t exist, groups are marginalized and attacked. It’s frightening (and a little heartbreaking) to see this desperate struggle to stay on the middle of the road. I wish it was January and the Oscar campaign, instead.

  44. Sorry, Sasha. I’ve been visiting this site daily for almost 3 years now and this is the most off-base piece you have written. I absolutely agree with Sam.

  45. AlecFPrice

    “If you’re looking for reasons as to why America is so divided, it’s figures like Moore who are as much to blame as anyone else.”

    Moore responds to situations he thinks are unfair, unwise or unjust – he does not initiate them. His style can be abrasive, but by making a loud noise, he makes sure his points get attention.
    ——————

    Most of the people on both sides of the divide don’t have the opportunity to initiate the situations or circumstances – but Moore capitalises on those situations to forward his own agenda. And as I said, that’s perfectly fine and is certainly his right to do so – but the manner in which he chooses to conduct himself or put forward his argument – and the way he conveniently chooses to obscure or deny facts – only makes the divide wider. It certainly doesn’t aid in illuminating any sense of understanding or conciliation. And in that regard, he is every bit as bad as his counterparts on the right because the only thing he succeeds in doing is making himself the story whilst any point he was hoping to make gets left in his considerable wake. It doesn’t mean I think he is insincere or doesn’t believe in what he is saying – but it does mean that his presence overwhelms the argument.

    He is to liberals what Fox News is to conservatives; an overblown, self-promoting, issue-trampling hysteric. And, as such, anything he says is just as easy to dismiss.

  46. Ryan Adams

    I guess I always thought that in America people were so civil and were actually able to discuss politics without accusing each other of lying every minute or so.

    It’s only been this bad since the mid 90’s. Because there was never such shameless bald-faced lying going on, broadcast largely unchallenged. Mainstream journalism has failed. It enables the liars. So weak-minded people get bullshit piped into their living rooms and have their heads filled with falsehoods masquerading as “news.”

    Mitt Romney is a pathological liar. Paul Ryan is a crass and maybe delusional liar. They both lie 50 times a day. Few news-people have the balls to call out their lying. It’s a sick aspect of contemporary news media that networks feel they have to report both sides of any political point as if each claim has equal merit. But a lie is a lie.

    Sam is a liar and tire-some word-twister. He tries to couch his insults in gentler terms like “intellectual dishonesty” — but right there he’s calling Sasha a liar. He says Sasha is arrogant and ignorant but elides those words in carefully passive sentences.

    There are lots of opinions on this page, but nobody else slings the insults like Sam. He lied about what Sasha said — and then calls her a liar. I’m not going to stand by and let any reader get away with that, Kate. If your words were being misrepresented, I’d defend you in the same way.

  47. “Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to engage in the political process, even though the makeup of U.S. corporations are filled with tax paying citizens? I find this attitude worrisome.”
    Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to engage in the political process because their only purpose is to generate revenue, not to advance the common good. Their purpose is antithetical to the purpose of a political system. The tax paying citizens are perfectly entitled to engage in the political process, participate in debate, and personally give to any political cause they want to. When the “corporation” enters the conversation, they really only amplify the voice of the owners of that corporation, allowing Dan Cathay to use the coffers of Chik Fil A to advance an agenda not shared by his employees or franchisees.

  48. Ryan Adams

    Gladiator is an “America fuck- yeah” movie? Directed by a Brit, starring an Australian and taking place in Italy?
    Uh….. Explain?

    Gladiator is an American movie financed by an American studio with 110 million American dollars.

    Are you trying to argue that Gladiator is an Italian movie because it was shot there?

  49. Ryan Adams

    When the “corporation” enters the conversation, they really only amplify the voice of the owners of that corporation, allowing Dan Cathay to use the coffers of Chik Fil A to advance an agenda not shared by his employees or franchisees.

    Thank you, MikeS! Perfectly stated.

    Employees and CEOs already have the means to express their political support — individually. The way political speech has been spoken for 3000 years.

  50. steve50

    “It’s a sick aspect of contemporary news media that networks feel they have to report both sides of any political point as if each claim has equal merit.”

    They provide no point of reference or weight to any issues, either. A US news station I was watching before Letterman came on last night gave equal gravity to “legimate rape” and skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. I would bet that a greater percentage of the red states see the latter as the more serious issue.

    Values are learned, not genetic, and when these two situations, one an adomination against half of humanity and the other a frolic of misjudgment, are treated the same, how can the woefully under-educated public assign any long term importance to them?

  51. “And this “War on Women” mantra is equally tiresome. Because it doesn’t exist. Feminists won. Women, on the whole, won. The 1973 decision basically created a “right” out of thin air for women, which I must point out is not available to men (I thought feminists were all about equality). Don’t even get me started on the crash and prizes women receive from the government when it comes to their relationships with men.”
    Until the President signed the Lily Ledbetter act, women had no right to contest an employer paying her less for performing the same job as a male. Until Joe Biden introduced the Violence against women act (which republicans just refused to re-up) assistance services like rape crisis centers were routinely underfunded and struggled to remain open.
    Just last year Virginia Governor Bob McDonald attempted to drive through a measure forcing women who sought an abortion to submit to a vaginal ultrasound, a procedure many obstetricians considered entirely unnecessary.
    In South Dakota, Doctors are required to read to patients a state mandated script about the dangers of abortion obstetricians have said is medically inaccurate, effectively forcing doctors to provide women false information as part of their “care.”
    There are laws in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arizona which would absolve doctors from malpractice suits if they chose to withhold or misrepresent the results of prenatal screening based on a suspicion the mother might chose to have an abortion if she knew the results of the test. Look at that again, these are laws allowing doctors to lie to women about the presence of a medical condition based on a suspicion the woman wouldn’t be strong enough to handle the truth.
    Those are some fine cash and prizes indeed.

  52. steve50

    “his (Moore’s) presence overwhelms the argument.”

    I disagree. He has the ability to call out what he sees as wrong in a manner that’s accessible. I don’t see him as a mouthpiece for the left at all – if anything, he seems to hold politics in general in disdain. What he does is important if only because he’s the only one doing it that people listen to.

  53. rufussondheim

    Sam says…. - President Clinton disgraced the White House with his sexual indiscretions. He cheated on his wife. Yet Feminists defended him. But what really sunk the President was lying about his actions in front of millions of voters. He perjured himself. He’s lucky the Senate voted for no removal from office.

    I initially ignored Sam’s post because it’s not particularly well written, it’s not filled with any facts, nor is it well argued. The post as a whole really isn’t worth my time.

    But when I see people still discussing it, I figured it would be worth going back and checking it out. My first impressions still hold, it’s so poorly argued, it’s hard to argue against. But this paragraph wrankled me and I thought it worth responding to.

    1) What goes on between two consenting adults is not our concern. We have no idea what the relationship between the two Clintons is. Just because their idea of marriage is not the same as yours may be doesn’t mean they should be criticized for it. While it was clear at the time that Hilary Clinton was upset with her husband, she apparently believes in the concept of marriage and found a way to make it work. She’s clearly a strong woman.

    2) Feminism is not about marriage fidelity. It is about equality in the eyes of the law (something still not enshrined in the Constitution, by the way.) To argue that a feminist should drop support of a political leader who practices adultery misses the point entirely. If you think feminists should have been upset then you are effectively arguing that women should be defined first and foremost by their relationships with their husbands.

    I find this to be a horrible argument. And it’s counter to what all feminists fight for, to be seen as an individual not as an appendage to their husband, to not be seen as “the lesser half.”

    The reason feminists support the Clintons is that Hilary was a powerful woman in her own right. Isn’t it funny that Democratic Presidents lately have had wives that had vastly more high-profile careers than the wives of Republican Presidents? These are things that feminists notice. These are things that feminists find important.

    And, as recent topical occurrances make clear. Democrats, such as Bill Clinton, are far more supportive of women’s rights then Republicans. Of course feminists are going to support Clinton. To think otherwise is to not understand feminism.

    3) By the time the Monica Lewinsky/Paula Jones affair hit the Supreme Courth and the depositions became public, the typical voter was prepared to move on. The typical American understood that the Republicans were on a witch hunt against Clinton from the get-go with the highpoint in the accusations that swirled around the death of Vincent Foster. (Really, if you think this birtherism is insane, do some research on the shit the Clintons had to endure)

    This all hit a highpoint in 1998. Media were predicting doom for the Democrats in the fall elections because how could Americans support such a skunk? Well, the American voters spoke loud and clear and supported the Democrats wholeheartedly in an election cycle that historically supports the party that doesn’t hold the Presidency.

    We Americans loved Bill Clinton, and still do. Many consider the 90’s to be a great decade with the longest economic expansion in American History. We can argue whether Clinton deserves credit for that another time, but it’s clear that the Americans Love them some Clintons. Bill Clinton’s approval rating when he left office was well above 60%. His approval rating stands at 66% today. Hillary Clinton’s current approval rating is also 66%

    Michelle Obama’s approval rating is 69%

    Ann Romney, who has never held a job in her life, has an approval rating of 40%

  54. AlecFPrice

    But they don’t listen. They hear him, roll their eyes and move on. Unless you’re a member of the choir he’s preaching to – in which case what he’s saying is ALL you’re hearing.

    Anyone else – I would hope – looks for a little more balance, fact and temperance.

  55. Ryan Adams

    well done, rufussondheim.

    Hardest part of dissecting any of Sam’s political posts is deciding where to begin the autopsy.

    “Clinton cheated on his wife. Yet Feminists defended him.”

    I rolled my eyes at that point too. Because we all know one of the fundamental goals of The Feminist Manifesto is to: “Maintain ultimate control of all the penises.”

    This isn’t the first time Sam has conflated feminism with emasculation. That perhaps speaks more to his own personal experience than to any meaningful understanding of the movement’s struggle for equal rights. “Feminists” occupy Sam’s boogeywomen nightmares, and I get the feeling he applies the term to any woman who’s ever nagged him.

    yes, feminists defend, love and admire Bill Clinton. Feminists such as his wife.

    Clinton’s approval rating stands at 66% today.

    Should also note that his “disapproval rating” is only 29%. Those 29% would disapprove of Clinton no matter what he did. Those 29% would disapprove even if Bill Clinton had spent the last 10 years “improving nearly 400 million lives through more than 2,100 commitments valued at $69.2 billion in more than 180 countries.” (Clinton Global Initiative Foundation)

    What’s George W Bush done for anybody lately?

  56. rufussondheim

    If I need some brush cleared, I know who to call.

  57. Craig Z

    “Gladiator is an American movie financed by an American studio with 110 million American dollars.
    Are you trying to argue that Gladiator is an Italian movie because it was shot there?”

    No but what makes it am America fuck-yeah movie? Cause when I think of that phrase I imagine a movie about America and with American themes. Most Academy award winners are American made. What makes this one different?

  58. Mark F.

    “Corporations shouldn’t be allowed to engage in the political process…”

    Well, all 9 Supreme Court Justices, including the liberals, disagree with your opinion. There is no First Amendment exception for corporations, never has been.

  59. Ryan Adams

    Well, all 9 Supreme Court Justices, including the liberals, disagree with your opinion

    We’re talking about Citizens United. Split decision, 5-4. But don’t let the facts bother you.

  60. Ryan Adams

    No but what makes it am America fuck-yeah movie?

    Common man standing up to aristocracy, among other things.

  61. Tero Heikkinen

    Craig Z has a point there, Ryan.

    ‘America-fuck-yeah’ means something where Americans are kicking someone else’s ass. It could also mean that in reverse (as in: “I know, we suck, and we apologize”), but Gladiator is not still related to that phrase.

    Finland, fuck yeah!

    (Hmm… how come there’s no effect to that?)

  62. The Citizens United decision was a 5-4 decision, not a unanimous one. The Second Amendment has no exception for shoulder fired rocket launchers, but I think you’d have a hard time convincing people that gives you the right to own the firepower necessary to take down a plane. The Constitution gives our government the right to set limits on rights when unlimited expression of those rights goes against the general welfare, and in my opinion (hence the “shouldn’t” in my earlier post), giving a corporation the power to drown out all other voices goes against the general welfare.

  63. Clearly I need to type faster if I want to make a point before Ryan.

  64. Ryan Adams

    Dunno. Maybe you have to be American to think everything is about you, but that’s the feeling an American audience will have when they see anybody being a triumphant rebel or dying for his integrity — if the dude is speaking English then He Is Us!

    Far as most people are concerned, Russell Crowe is American from LA Confidental. We don’t give a fuck about birth certificates here.

  65. Craig Z

    Ryan, I think you guys are grasping at straws. Nobody ever saw Gladiator and thought “Yay! America!”

    “Common man standing up to aristocracy, among other things.”

    Clearly an American invention. Other countries don’t stand up to things. Never overthrow governments….. No offense but I really think Sasha was just throwing out buzz words and trying to sound hip by referencing a funny movie.

  66. rufussondheim

    When I see Gladiator I don’t think “America! Fuck Yeah!” I think, “God, two more fucking hours of this tripe.”

  67. Craig Z

    Also Ryan, Crowe is generally thought of as an Austrailian. So much so that the movie Tropic Thunder made an bad boy Austrailian actor character to spoof him…

    Americans generally don’t think of all English speakers as American. They didn’t think Maximus was American. There is no need to generalize Americans as idiots just to cover up something silly that Sasha said.

  68. When I saw GLADIATOR I thought “Oh this is just THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. Huh. I like Christopher Plummer better.”

  69. Ryan Adams

    Craig Z, You can go ahead and lighten up any time you want, ok?

    Do you honestly think I believe Russell Crowe playing an LA cop made him American?

    On the other hand, Russell Crowe was virtually unknown in America before LA Confidential. After that he played another American in The Insider. I’ll bet you 60-70% of Americans could not have told you in in 2000 where Russell Crowe was born. (I’ll bet a good 40% of Americans couldn’t tell you right now, tonight.)

    Furthermore, probably 30% of Americans couldn’t find Rome on a world map. But you’re right. I’m sure almost everyone who saw Gladiator figured out Maximus was “Roman” — of course they would all be wrong because he was from Spain — or, more precisely, Hispania.

    That’s not a generalization about Americans self-centered lack of knowledge (and lack of interest) in world history. I’m being specific. I’m not talking about readers of Awards Daily or Academy members. I’m talking about the kind of Americans you and I rarely ever encounter. But those folks do buy movie tickets.

    You can also dissuade yourself of the notion that most Americans know much about resistance to aristocracy throughout the history Western Civilization,. And while you’re at it, if you want to know how many Americans can even define aristocracy it would be a lot faster if you counted the ones who can instead of the ones who can’t.

    But hey, I find that amusing. It’s not a serious concern of mine. So could it be that I was joking and playing around this afternoon? Have you never been exposed to my silly humor before?

  70. Ryan Adams

    Craig Z, I’m not trying to be a dick. Today is one of those days when I don’t have to try. I’m just being realistic. I think it’s easy to overestimate the intelligence and general knowledge of Americans when most of us only ever hang out with people who are lucky enough to be well-educated.

    When I said I’ll bet 30% of Americans couldn’t locate Rome on a map, that was just a wild guess. But then I figured some smart-aleck somewhere had probably tried to test American’s knowledge about such things. Turns out those smart-alecks work at National Geographic:

    The National Geographic Society confirmed it in 2002 with a study showing that, among Americans aged 18 to 24, almost 30 percent could not identify the Pacific Ocean on a map. More than half could not locate India, and 85 percent could not find Iraq

    Sad but true. In fact, not sad. It’s pathetic.

    So 30% of Americans can’t find the Pacific Ocean, but you’re convinced they all knew Russell Crowe was Australian in 2000, when 95% of Americans had never seen him in any movie where he didn’t have an American accent.

    .

  71. I thought he was from New Zealand. Anywho, the important thing is that his workouts have been crappy lately.

  72. Ryan Adams

    Crowe is generally thought of as an Austrailian. So much so that the movie Tropic Thunder made an bad boy Austrailian actor character to spoof him…

    Everybody got that, right?
    … Everybody but me. I didn’t make that connection at all :-/

  73. rufussondheim

    I doubt most Americans saw LA Confidential or The Insider. Not sure what kind of name recognition Crowe had when Gladiator came out, but I remember feeling elitist because I knew who he was when many others didn’t. Not sure where that exactly that occurred, but I bet it was around that time.

    I find it funny Sam hasn’t made a return appearance (although he’s been around on other threads)

  74. Tero Heikkinen

    I don’t believe you, Rufus. Everyone who ever goes to movies in Finland knew who Russell Crowe is BEFORE Gladiator. Americans may be stupid, but not that stupid.

    L.A. Confidential was a huge hit. The Insider, too. Also, don’t forget Romper Stomper and The Quick and the Dead. And sum of us saw – The Sum of Us (which kinda sucked, but still).

  75. I thought THE INSIDER was after GLADIATOR. By a couple years even. Woah. My brain totally rearranged that.

    I’m fairly certain we all knew Russell Crowe wasn’t American. Like I said I thought he was from New Zealand for some reason. But I think most Americans just lump in the English and Aussies together and then don’t distinguish between the two. I don’t think they help matters much by switching countries, for example Nicole “Bum-Bum” Kidman was actually born here and Hugh Jackman, I think, was born in England. Like the BeeGees. ABBA’s still Swedish last time I checked. Right, Tero?

  76. julian the emperor

    Yeah, most moviegoers knew Crowe before Gladiator. Having said that, someone needs to explain to me, why that even matters in relation to Craig Z’s initial response to Sasha’s curious “America fuck yeah!” remark about Gladiator….I lost track along the way (due to Ryan’s sense for “silly humor”, most likely).

    I am still confused about that. Sasha’s remark, that is. Oh well, and Ryan’s humor.

    Not to mention Nicole’s ass…it has been an altogether confusing day.

  77. Not to mention Nicole’s ass…

    Oh come now, that’s not nice. I know it’s just country music, but still. At least we know he’s from Nashville.

  78. Ryan Adams

    LA Confidential was big — in the sense of prestige not popularity. I was in Thailand in 1997 but LAC was so high-profile I still heard about it from people in the states (people who aren’t film buffs by any means). I was out of the loop but made a point to seek it out in a Bangkok theater. Another indication of how important it was — it opened in Thailand in November, only 2 months after the American premiere — and such a fast global rollout was rare in those days unless a movie was a blockbuster or had prestige.

    I think it’s possible that we all have inflated perception of how popular LA Confidential was — because it’s so great, we love it so, and it was popular among true movie lovers.

    But everything was in Titanic’s shadow that year. LA Confidential earned 1/10th Titanic’s domestic gross — $64million total. It barely made it into the Top 30 highest grossing movies of 1997.

    At the time the Oscar nominations were announced, LA Confidential was only the 4th highest grossing BP nominee, and was very nearly the lowest earner. Squeaked past Full Monty by $1 million.

    Titanic $339 mil
    As Good as It Getts $92 mil
    Good Will Hunting $69 mil
    L.A. Confidential $40 mil
    The Full Monty $39 mil

    Ticket prices in 97 were $4.50 — to earn $64 million when all was said and done, LA Confidential sold 14.2 million tickets

    In 1997, that means 1 out of every 20 Americans saw LA Confidential. So let’s be careful how we frame our generalizations.

    19 out of 20 Americans would have had no fucking clue who Russell Crowe was in ’97 — and if they only knew him from that movie a huge number of those who vaguely knew him would never have guessed he was Australian, right?

    There were no movie sites then, kids. Are we going to assume the attentions of 50 million Americans were riveted on Entertainment Tonight during the 3 minutes in 1997 when Crowe’s nationality was mentioned?

    So no. No. Fully 95% of Americans had no earthly idea who Russell Crowe was before Gladiator.

    Sorry for the math, but gotta run the numbers to illustrate this fact.

  79. Reform the Academy

    Great article Sasha. I’m not one for politics usually but the bits about the state of our union is spot on. Unfortunately it’s kinda a double edged sword; Obama is a great guy but he can’t do shit while the Republicans control the Senate and House. On the other hand, if the Republicans win the White House, Romney will have it easy, but America will fall further into the pit of despair, corruption, and stupidity…

  80. Reform the Academy

    So no. No. Fully 95% of Americans had no earthly idea who Russell Crowe was before Gladiator.

    That’s a shame since LA Confidential (even though I prefer Good Will Hunting over both LA and Titanic) and The Insider are both really great movies. And then Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind followed. Wow, I think all 4 of those are in my Top 100.

  81. Reform the Academy

    Unfortunately Crowe hasn’t had much to write home about for years now, but hopefully this’ll change with Les Miserables :)

  82. May I politely observe that American politics is weird.

    All the fury & ridicule from both sides of the political divide makes the US seem like a country made up of two opposing sets of extremists who each believe the opposition is either too evil or too stupid to have any valid agenda.

    Everyone seems to push opinions they happen to agree with as unobjectionable truth, much of the political dialogue appears to be merely ridiculing the “other” side & everyone seems to believe their political opposites are trying to destroy the country.

    It’s hard to even spot the facts under all the emotion. EVERY ruling party or ideology should welcome a fierce & active opposition to keep it in check. Perhaps America is just too evenly divided into political opposites to find a middle ground?

    Just an observation.

    Granted I live in a country where no one takes the extreme conservatives very seriously, although perhaps because they are the least of our worries.

  83. Since I feel I am about to get shot at anyway, I’ll add that Germany, from the start of WWI through to the fall of the Berlin wall, is a case study in how political extremism, of any persuasion, is disastrous.

  84. I will also add, in conclusion, that all politics is weird. And difficult.

  85. steve50

    ^ Good post, Friedl! Just wish our friends in the US realized what they are playing with.

  86. rufussondheim

    Not sure how abortion is handled in most other countries, but I think it’s at the core of why American Politics is so divided currently (others may disagree.)

    But this is something that’s been simmering since Robert Bork’s SCOTUS nomination was defeated by the Democrats during the Reagan Administration. I’m old enough to remember the event, but I wasn’t paying attention enough to know if the Democrats were acting on good faith or were bing merely political. But it really doesn’t matter because Republicans perceived it as political and ever since then Republicans have been pusing the divide (I give you the Clinton Presidency and the relentless Republican attacks against the man) and the Democrats have been playing catch up.

    Every step of the way Repubs will blame democrats and dems will blame repubs though, no one wants to admit that their hands are dirty.

    But what it really comes down to is that a large constituency of Republicans wants abortion to be illegal and Repub leaders who are controlled by business leaders have been stoking the anti-abortion fervor in order to get votes. And now Repubs have gotten so extreme that the party’s business leaders are now second fiddle to the extreme right wing Christian faction.

    I wouldn’t say that Democrats are extreme, I think they’ve been pulled rightward in response to the Repubs going far right. While there’s a large section of the democrats and independants that drifts leftward on social issues (such as gay marriage) the party as a whole has become very centrist on matters of fiscal policy and gun control and foreign policy.

    But abortion, that’s something that there can’t be a compromise on, and that stokes the divide and will likely continue to stoke the divide for decades to come.

    And the Earth will suffer because we ain’t ever going to do anything about carbon dioxide emissions until it’s too late. I fear even developing countries will see the danger before we do.

    For those in other countries that don’t know why that is (not sure what kind of coverage you get in other countries)

    Well the anti-abortion right is obviously Christian and believe this is a Christian nation. And with that comes the belief that evolution is false and this leads to a total rejection of science. If you talk to right wing people here they authentically believe that global warming is not happening, and if they concede that the earth is getting warmer they think it’s cyclical and an act of God.

    Throw in the business wing of the Repub party who care more about quarterly profits than anything else and you have a nasty little stew that will never concede an inch on global warning. It’s a tragedy and the rest of the world will suffer as a result.

  87. Ryan Adams

    rufussondheim, you’ve encapsulated it nicely. I’d broaden the point a bit to say the Republicans kowtow to hardcore religious fundamentalists and any agenda the fundies are rabid about — gay marriage, abortion, evolution, school prayer, abstinence-only sex education and home-schooling (so their kids never get to hear anything their parents don’t believe).

    Republican corporatists don’t give a damn about any of that. The just want Zero regulation and Zero taxes so the richest of the rich can freely steal and greedily hoard the nation’s wealth. But since the superrich only represent 1% of the population, they need a highly motivated voting block to get their lackeys elected to office, right?

    Fundamentalist Christians are already demonstrably gullible because of the blind faith drilled into them by whatever shrill preacher they grew up listening to (purely by accident of their birth into a fundamentalist family dragging their kids to church).

    Match made in pretend-Heaven. Vast wealth meet vast ignorance. The wealthy elite puling the strings to make a chorus line of fundamentalist marionettes dance to the polls and pull levers to vote against their own economic interests.

    Baptist pastors in rural communities throughout the country openly campaign in the pulpit for Republicans. My mother, good Democrat and good Christian, has a devil of a time finding a church that doesn’t turn Sunday church service into a radical right-wing stump speech every week.

    For decades the billionaire string-pullers could depend on anti-gay bigots to vote Republican, but younger generations and the more tolerant of the older generation aren’t buying that line of crap anymore.

    Because of the incredibly heartening shift in public perception about gay marriage, the right-wing corporatists needed a new boogeyman to dangle in front of rapt fundamentalist congregations every Sunday. So they’ve latched onto abolishing abortion (again) as their renewed crusade to motivate the hundreds of millions of church-going voters.

    (fun fact: 28% of Americans identify as Evangelical Christians. Evangelicals – the craziest Christians god ever created. Another 25% of Americans are Catholic).

    One reason Rachel Maddow’s show is so smart because she doesn’t do 3-minute stories. She does 20-minute stories, because these things are too complex to be explained in easy-to-swallow soundbites. Here’s one story regarding “values voters” that’s a tight 11 minutes long. It’s one of my favorite Maddow segments of all time.

    Any international readers who watch aghast at the perpetual hate and chaos seething in the USA, here’s an 11-minute lesson about the Fundamental” problem of American politics. (see what I did there?)

  88. Ryan Adams

    Wanted to check my facts about the number of Evangelical Christians in America. The Economist estimated in May 2012 that over one-third of Americans — more than 100,000,000 voters — can be considered evangelical.

    Come for the ban on abortions. Stay to be raped by billionaires.

  89. Tero Heikkinen

    Rufus, over here abortion is completely acceptable, it’s not even an issue. It’s only Death Penalty we strongly oppose, and would never get that back. This is funny, because Christian fundamentalists see murder in abortion, but DP is just fine (because Bible says An Eye for An Eye).

  90. Ryan Adams

    but DP is just fine (because Bible says An Eye for An Eye).

    Never mind that Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek.” What a pussy.

  91. rufussondheim

    I tried to be dispassionate and objective :)

    Karl Rove, political mastermind, used gay marriage for a bit when it favored repubs politically, but abortion was always at the heart of the matter. While shifts on gay marriage have been rapid, abortion polling has been extraordinarily static over recent decades. Abortion is an issue that will continue to be divisive twenty, forty and sixty years from now long after gay marriage has been settled.

    The only question I have for the next twenty years in American Politics is if Climate Change is something we as a nation will start to take seriously. Having done a fair amount of research on the topic, I do know the changes we likely need to make are not even on the radar of the Democratic Party much less the Republican Party.

    Climate Change, I think, will be the defining issue of this century on the world stage. We as a nation, and as a world, are ill-equipped to do much to change things. Sadly, I’ll be dead before the end of the century to say “I told you so.”

  92. LA Confidential was big — in the sense of prestige not popularity. I was in Thailand in 1997 but LAC was so high-profile I still heard about it from people in the states (people who aren’t film buffs by any means). I was out of the loop

    Well I wasn’t in Thailand. :P From what I recall the big story was Kim Basinger against Gloria Stewart. That seemed to be what most people cared about. But it’s entirely possible that the entertainment shows did point out Russell Crowe’s nationality mainly because they might have made a story about he and Guy Pearce being Australian. You know Kim and the Australian hunks. It’s possible. I’m not saying it did or didn’t happen. But your confidence that next to no one knew he was Australian is weird since you said you weren’t even here.

    I think it’s possible that we all have inflated perception of how popular LA Confidential was — because it’s so great, we love it so, and it was popular among true movie lovers.

    I didn’t love it. I thought it was pretty boring actually. I love real noir and I thought it was a bad imitation. But as far as Oscar-y movies go, it was pretty popular with normal people. Nothing like what’s been going on the last few years. People were definitely aware of the film. And I’m certain that more people were aware of the stars, beyond those who saw it, because of stuff like E! News which most people watched back then. So my fake math tells me that most likely out of the people who knew who Russell Crowe was at the time, 50% knew he was Australian. But I don’t really think LA Confidential matters either way. What matters is how much people knew about Russell Crowe and that would have more to do with gossip shows and magazines. So there’s no way of telling. This is the weirdest debate ever.

    Anywho, in case you were wondering. Americans hate abortion because they had to keep their damn kids. I’m probably one of the first people who should have been aborted since I was born in 1973. So everyone who has a kid older than me doesn’t want people getting away with what they couldn’t. Secondably, Jesus.

  93. Ryan Adams

    14 million Americans saw LA Confidential
    6 million Americans saw The Insider
    37 million Americans saw Gladiator

    That’s not fake math. That’s simple arithmetic.

    For 25 million Americans, Gladiator was the first time they ever laid eyes on Russell Crowe. That’s twice as many as had ever seen him.

    That’s not counting the 250 million Americans in 2000 who never saw Russell Crowe in any movie. Ever.

    Alhough, ok, you got me! I forgot all about the Americans who knew Russell Crowe from Romper Stomper. Romper Stomper earned $175 thousand dollars in the US. So that means 35 thousand Americans knew Russell Croew that way, and I forgot to count them.

    What’s 250 million minus 35 thousand? My head hurts.

    That’s why I said, “Let’s be careful how we define our terms.” Am I wrong? Should we be more reckless? Should we say “It was generally known Russell Crowe was Australian.”

    Really? even among the 75 million Americans who can’t find the Pacific Ocean?

  94. Ryan Adams

    “But your confidence that next to no one knew he was Australian…”

    um, sorry. That’s not quite what I said, Antoinetee… is it?

    Pretty sure I said this: “19 out 20 Americans had no effing clue who Russell Crowe was.” (in other words, 5% of us knew who he was).

    I’m confident about this: Before Gladiator, only about 5% of Americans had ever seen Russell Crowe in a movie. That’s 15 million Americans, right?

    15 million people is not “next to no one”

    15 million is pretty close to the number of Americans who had ever seen a Russell Crowe movie.

    How am I getting beat up over this? Why is it important for you to prove to me that most Americans had memorized all kinds of biographical information about an actor they’d never seen before?

    No wonder they don’t have time to study up about the location of the oceans.

  95. How am I getting beat up over this?

    You started it. :P

  96. Ryan Adams

    :)

    Antoinette, you know that I’m answering Craig Z’s original query — “How can you say Americans could get their juices flowing about Gladiator when the main gladiator dude is Australian?!” (paraphrasing)

    I’m saying the same rebel-yell bloodlust runs through the veins of many Americans who thronged to see Gladiator. I’m showing you the simple math outlining my belief that 25 million American moviegoers had never laid eyes on Russell Crowe before Gladiator. And as long as he spoke English, Americans could identify with him.

    Which of those things I’m saying is false?

    I have no trouble understanding how a gladiator-spectator oriented society like America would be gung-ho about a movie called Gladiator.

    A freakin TV series called American Gladiators ran in America from 1989 to 1996, fer godssake. It aired in syndication 6 days a week on TNN at the same time Gladiator was in theaters.

  97. Everyone needs to get real here. The average moviegoer did not know Russell Crowe was not American when Gladiator came out and they probably still effing don’t b/c they don’t effing care. But we could all get even more real by facing it that this conversation is worthless even if entertaining…..unless someone wants to hire a firm to do a scientific poll of Americans and ask them the nationality of Russell Crowe and then get back to us on why that fucking mattered again.

  98. rufussondheim

    I find this discussion to be doubleplusunrefreshing.

    Ryan, you failed to calculate the people who saw both The Insider and LA Confidential, which I figure to be a large overlap. I expect a Venn Diagram within three hours.

    I remember when I was young and my family took me on vacation to Denver, Colorado. We went rafting on the river next to Shea Stadium. Sadly we missed the exit signs and soon we were floating down the Mississippi river. Four hours later we were at the delta in South Carolina. Because we didn’t have maps because we were poor we were worried. But then we realized we were in the Pacific and not in Iraq (where they also don’t have maps) so we were safe. The whole experience was quite refreshing. And, such as, this is why we should have maps.

  99. Oh it’s a good opinion, thank you very much.

  100. Do you…really think Obama doesn’t take money from corporations? Almost the same exact people Romney takes money from….

    And don’t give me crap about “he just has to do it to have the same chance as Republicans.” He. Is. Doing. It. Too.

    Grow the hell up.

  101. Also, did you actually bother to do research on 2016, its essentially narrated by Barack Obama via “Dreams of My Father.” I’d assume you did more then research and actually saw it. As you know, calling it a fabrication without actually seeing it would question your integrity as a writer. Unless of course, you don’t mind being accused of stretching things without merit, as thats something that is suggested by this piece that you are more then a little disgusted by.

  102. Azzamatron

    look pple need to start getting over political and box office analogies cos cinema is supposed to be first and foremost an artform.

    But antoinette ever so lovely you are: you are right and always a pleasure to respond to your great insights!

    Film is more than box office numbers and politics even Lincoln is a art form before it bout [politics as any great spielbertg film is. Gladiator deserves to get kudos from most of you for it revival of a favourite bygone era in hollywood missed for over 30 yrs and revived at the time timing was coincidental but its artistic achievement it recreation of a real gritty and brutal rome covered in glory is not to be underestimated aghain by anyone you cannot overlook it achievements still for many fans one of the best of very fw worthy best picture winners in the new millennia this year though promises to be a real joy and excitement as we see Jackson vs. Spielberg vs. Nolan so much to look forward to in a year where one of these films clearly deserve to win!

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