Patterico's Pontifications


Academy Awards “Apolitical”? Seriously??

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:10 am

[guest post by Dana]

I boycotted last night’s awards ceremony due to the Academy’s decision to once again refuse President Zelensky’s request to speak to viewers via video. With millions upon millions of viewers worldwide, Zelensky would have been able to reach an enormous audience and remind the world why it is imperative that Russia be defeated and expelled from Ukraine, all of Ukraine, and how said the defeat would benefit the world at large. Zelensky, who has addressed a number of audiences at prominent cultural events (via video), said during the Golden Globes in January:

“It is now 2023 the war in Ukraine is not over yet but the tide is turning. And it is already clear who will win. There are still battles and tears ahead, but now I can definitely tell you who are the best in the previous year, it was you. The free people of the free world. Those who united around the support of the free Ukrainian people in our common struggle for freedom….We will make it together with a whole, free world, and I hope that all of you will be with us on the victorious day – the day of our victory. Slava Ukraini.

While no explanation was provided for this year’s snub, Variety reported that “…the Academy traditionally prefers to focus on the contributions of the filmmaking community and steer clear of anything political.” Oh…

Clearly, the Academy can’t help itself because, contrary to the assertion that the Academy prefers to avoid anything political, actor Donnie Yen, a new member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was selected to introduce Best Original Song nominee ‘This Is A Life’ from Everything Everywhere All at Once. Despite a petition signed by more than 100,000 people demanding the Oscars Committee “cancel the invitation of Donnie Yen as a presenter for the Oscars,” Yen remained in the lineup. As CNN previously reported:

Describing Yen as a “supporter of the Chinese Communist regime,” the online petition points to several statements it claims ought to disqualify Yen from involvement in the 95th Academy Awards, which will be held on March 13.

One example listed was a profile published last week in GQ, in which Yen discussed the large and occasionally violent pro-democracy demonstrations that gripped Hong Kong throughout 2019.

“It wasn’t a protest, okay, it was a riot,” Yen told GQ of the demonstrations, which were ultimately suppressed by mass arrests and the introduction of a sweeping national security law by Beijing.


Last weekend, Yen was seen in attendance at a key Communist Party meeting in Beijing as part of an advisory body on arts and culture.

Speaking to press at the event, Yen said more Chinese action movies were needed to “become the pride of China” and “tell the story of China,” according to state-run Global Times.

He was previously criticized after performing next to Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2017, an event Yen called a “great honor,” and for celebrating Hong Kong’s return “to motherland China” in 2020 on the anniversary of the city’s handover.

Way to go, Academy! It just doesn’t get more apolitical than selecting a member of the CPPCC to be on stage at the Academy Awards ceremony while denying a few minutes to the president of a pro-democracy country who is courageously fighting a brutal common enemy whose victory would undoubtedly pose an enormous threat to the free world!

There were, however, two positive political moments during the ceremony. “Navalny,” the stellar documentary which exposes Putin’s attempted assassination and subsequent imprisonment of freedom-fighter Alexie Navalny, won Best Documentary.

It was equally terrific to see the courageous Christo Grozev, who was pivotal in exposing the evil machinations of the Kremlin, honored during the acceptance speech. After the awards ceremony, Grozev offered his observations of the Academy Awards:

“The Academy Award is pragmatically useful. Now the film will be watched by at least another 20 million people.

This means that viewers will be exposed to the facts that we present in this film – Russia has a program to kill and eliminate its own citizens, anyone who has the courage to go against the authorities or run for president.”

And about Zelensky not being able to address the worldwide audience, Grozev said, “A large part of the things that Zelensky would say, we said them.”

Another righteous political statement was made by Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who fled Iran during the revolution. She voiced her support for women in Iran in a unique way. Explaining her elegantly subtle but powerful form of messaging, Aghdashloo said:

I was so happy to be invited [to the Oscars], but what crossed my mind is that this was a chance to take the case of the Iranian freedom fighters to the ultimate platform of arts and sciences…I knew I wanted to wear something that would include the slogan of Iran’s freedom fighters — ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ — as they continue what’s one of the biggest human-rights efforts in history.

I think she was successful in her efforts (click on the photo):

(Embroidered on her gown are the names of three young women killed during the protests in the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement.)

Anyway, my hope is that next year there will be no need for President Zelensky to make yet a third request to the Academy because Ukraine will have already been victorious.


24 Responses to “Academy Awards “Apolitical”? Seriously??”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (1225fc)

  2. Shohreh Aghdashloo is fantastic in The Expanse as Christian Avasarala, the power behind the throne of Earth. I can just hear her character speak of the Iranian Mullahs … but it would very much not get through the nanny filter here.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  3. Dana, I think that the Navalny award was actually more important than (yet another) Zelensky appearance would be. Zelensky, unconnected to any film, would have been a pure political statement and I for one would prefer the Academy stayed away from those. I might like this one, but I would dislike the next 20.

    I’m also not sure that such a blatant political statement would help. Even I feel a bit of Zelensky fatigue. Additionally, the people at the awards (or watching them) are likely to support him already. By aligning him with the hated Hollywood “culture war” crowd, the appearance might have given some conservatives second thoughts about their continued support for Ukraine.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  4. I’m also not a fan of cancel culture. Donny Yen’s politics are no more objectionable that a dozen others (e.g. Danny Glover, Sean Penn). I applaud the Academy for standing up to the hecker’s veto and I would hope they do so evenhandedly.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  5. Look at the best picture nominees-they were mostly political.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  6. I’ve drifted away from Wuxia recently, but I have always been a fan od Donnie Yen’s movies. He was in Hero (2002) with Jet Li and an all-star cast which was such an allegorical paean to despotism that I suspicioned that it had been commissioned by the Chinese government. Take that, Leni Riefenstahl! Still, I dunno.

    nk (fe1421)

  7. Look at the best picture nominees-they were mostly political.

    Hunh? None of them were overtly political.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  8. Academy Awards “Apolitical”? Seriously??

    And the Winner Is… FDR and the 13th Academy Awards Ceremony

    Can’t get much more political than that. The documentation is there in the FDR archives, It’s an interesting read. Walter Wanger, then President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences, approached the WH in early February, 1941– 10 months before Pearl Harbor– inquiring if FDR w/ an invitation to address the Oscar ceremonies, which he did by radio on February 27, 1941. Discussion of the political content between AMPAS and the WH is evidenced as well.

    WME’s Mike Simpson doesn’t come cheap. Zelinsky needs a better agent.

    Still, you missed a good show. Buzz among old Hollywood colleagues by phone and email afterwards was the 95th Academy Awards was one of the better Oscar telecasts in years.

    DCSCA (273dde)

  9. March 31, 1981 (UPI)
    Ronald Reagan will open the 53rd Academy Awards ceremony…

    HOLLYWOOD — Ronald Reagan will open the 53rd Academy Awards ceremony tonight in a taped message as the star-studded gala gets off to a delayed start because of the attempt on the president’s life.

    Fay Kanin, president of the Acadmey of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said today the White House had advised academy officials to use the tape, which was made more than a week ago by the only former actor ever elected president.

    ‘The White House said we can do whatever we choose with the tape,’ she said. ‘We’ve decided to use it.’

    Setting aside the tradition of ‘the show must go on,’ the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced four hours after Reagan was shot that the awards show Monday night was being postponed ‘in deference to the tragedy in Washington.’

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  10. IIRC, Reagan’s speech was non-politcal

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  11. Hunh? None of them were overtly political.

    Well, AQOTWF could be considered ‘political.’ Remarque’s book, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ has often been cited as anti-war messaging and a red flag to strident, zealous nationalism as written and as presented in the subsequent film and television productions.

    DCSCA (273dde)

  12. Hunh? None of them were overtly political.

    Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/13/2023 @ 11:36 am

    Oh, please. Top Gun: Maverick (pro-US intervention, peacekeeper of the world); Women Talking (obvious); All Quiet on the Western Front (anti-war); Everything Everywhere (again, obvious); Tar (sexual orientation); Banshees (Irish Troubles); Triangle of Sadness (Marxist class struggle). Not having seen Avatar, I can’t speak to it, but the first one was an anti-capitalist screed. The only apolitical films were Elvis and The Fabelmans.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  13. This won’t be popular but it’s an unfortunate fact that one man’s protest is another man’s insurrection. When a ton of money is injected into the equation via China to Hollywood there is usually an equal injection of nuance as well. Its sorta like the “mostly peaceful” vs. “rioters burning stuff” debate. Both things can be true and we see what we want to and weight the scale accordingly.

    steveg (240a91)

  14. @12. The old general rule of thumb, “inside baseball” axiom amongst colleagues was the films which employ the most Academy guild members get nominated for their respective catagories. The studios which run the best marketing campaigns to the Academy voters for the general vote via the trades and so forth for the final tally squabble get the BP nod. It’s a business; the Oscars are an annual televised sales meeting and you are merely invited to watch. Guarantee you studio execs this morning have last night in the rearview mirror and are already focused on marketing their projects for wins at Cannes in May. That’s how it works.

    DCSCA (273dde)

  15. What was peculiar throughout the ABC coverage was the repeated references to going to TikTok for clips, background info and so forth, as that Chinese-based platform has become quite the pariah.

    DCSCA (273dde)

  16. You really have to be looking for this to see it. I’ll grant you Top Gun and Avatar as being slightly that way, but you said most. Anything with a plot and conflict will have “sides.”

    Women Talking (obvious) Women against rape. Damn politics!

    All Quiet on the Western Front Tell me, what did you think about 1917? Films about war often show you that war is a bad idea. Soldiers learn this first hand. Did you expect it to glorify war?

    Everything Everywhere (again, obvious) Sorry you are going to have to spell that out. Because it is Asian-centric? Really?

    Tar (sexual orientation) It was about sexual harassment, if anything. How is that political? Do you support sexual harassment?

    Banshees (Irish Troubles); That’s only a background. It was about the nature of friendship.

    Triangle of Sadness (Marxist class struggle) oh, please. Sure it took aim at the upper classes, but they are so easy to take aim at. Did you think that Gilligan’s Island was about class struggle?

    Avatar Colonizing/native conflict. Fine. Most not about that though. But that and

    The only apolitical films were Elvis and The Fabelmans. Try squinting, and you’ll find something.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  17. *But that and Top gun, perhaps.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  18. You really have to be looking for this to see it. I’ll grant you Top Gun and Avatar as being slightly that way, but you said most. Anything with a plot and conflict will have “sides.”

    It’s not just the plots, the politics include the back story of various characters, which is not necessarily required to tell the story, but is done so to make a particular point. The plot of Banshees is a metaphor for the Irish troubles, not just its background. Woody Harrelson has long scenes extolling Marxist class struggle while his ship is sinking.

    I guess you never saw it.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  19. Oscars Are Back! 2023 Ratings Near 16 Mil, Increase from 2022, Biggest Numbers of All Awards Shows This Season

    Initial numbers for last night’s Oscars were close to 16 million. That’s up from last year, and the biggest numbers of all awards shows this season. The Academy Awards brought in two and a half times the number of the Golden Globes from back in January, too. The show was so well produced and moving, and funny, that there will surely be a lot of delayed viewing before the finals come in tomorrow.


    If you wanna be critical, go after the Academy for glaring omissions from ‘The Death Reel’:

    Oscars In Memoriam Segment Missing Anne Heche, Tom Sizemore, Paul Sorvino And Charlbi Dean From Oscar-Nominated ‘Triangle Of Sadness’

    …Among those that were missing (and called out on Twitter) included Charlbi Dean, the leading actress in the Best Picture Oscar nominee Triangle of Sadness who died suddenly at age 32; Anne Heche, who died in an August car crash; Goodfellas star Paul Sorvino; and Tom Sizemore, who starred in the Oscar-nominated Saving Private Ryan as part of a long career. Fiddler on the Roof star Chaim Topol was also left off. He died Thursday at 87.

    Ahead of the segment, Jimmy Kimmel onstage asked the audience at the Dolby Theatre whether they thought Robert Blake should be included. Blake, who died earlier this week at age 89 in Los Angeles, was an Emmy winner for Baretta and starred in films including In Cold Blood and Lost Highway. His career ended after he went on trial for the 2001 murder of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakely. He was acquitted.

    DCSCA (56f8d5)

  20. Oscars Are Back!

    I eleive that there is a strong correlation between people caring about the Oscars and the Oscars caring about movies that people have seen. 2020-2021 films are probably gonna need asterisks.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  21. @20. It has little to do w/t audience; it’s a closed vote in the organization w/t the membership and guild members doing the nominating and voting. For example, if public reception of a particular film mattered at all, Top Gun Maverick would have swept the categories w/t BO numbers it earned.

    DCSCA (56f8d5)

  22. “Banshees (Irish Troubles)”

    Meh… “Banshees…” was Laurel and Hardy Redux!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  23. Oscar Viewership Up 12% To 18.7 Million But Still Among Least-Watched Academy Awards Ceremonies

    The 95th annual ceremony brought in 18.7M viewers, which is a 12% increase from last year when the telecast captured 16.6M viewers. The telecast was also up to a 4.0 demo rating, compared to last year’s 3.8. Both ceremonies are still among the least-watched and lowest-rated in Oscars history, although the ratings have gone up nearly quite significantly from the hostless 2021 Oscars (which had an audience of only 10.4M).

    DCSCA (56f8d5)

  24. I thought this was interesting…

    “I was browsing the Friday, April 17, 1970 Atlanta Constitution in the other day looking for an obit when I came across the theater listings for that weekend. These were just a few of the movies available at Atlanta theaters that weekend:

    * 2001: A Space Odyssey
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

    * They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Goodbye, Mr. Chips

    * Midnight Cowboy
Anne of the Thousand Days

    * The Dirty Dozen

    So, what is playing at your local multiplex this week? I checked the three nearest me here in Cumming, GA, and there is not a single movie I would pay to see right now. I might see John Wick 4 when it opens next week. Yet, I saw every one of those movies back in 1970. Except for “Bob & Carol…”, which I really didn’t think was all that good, I would watch any of those movies again right now. Quite a few Oscars spread across that list, and all of them deserved.”

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

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