The Academy Awards have come and gone. As with so much in life, it is not the films which were nominated or the awards which were given that mattered. Our lives today are filled with gold stars and certificates of achievement. What strikes me each year when the American Film Institute cranks out the "best" that Hollywood can produce is just how little that is important ever winds up becoming cinema. What are the films which should have been made and which never were? Here are my "nominations."
Ghosts of Armenia. We are fast approaching the centennial of the first holocaust of the Twentieth Century. The Great Hunger in Ukraine under Stalin, the Rape of Nanking by the Japanese, the Shoah by the Nazis, the Tibetan genocide by the Chinese - - all these had firm roots in the systematic murder of millions of Armenians, and the murder of millions of Christian Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Empire in the preceding decades. What is more timely than this chilling subject? Ah, but what would be more politically incorrect!
Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Mike Nifong. The trial of the Duke Lacrosse Team represents the quintessence of political correctness descending into its natural malignancy. Professors who determined guilt before evidence. Prosecutors who used the law to lynch the innocent. Journalists who salivated at the "right story," without worrying about the truth. In our day, Kafka's dreaded projection of justice as recorded in The Trial becomes our real world. Yet no social conscience or independent mind in Hollywood found a story there. How odd! Well, no, not odd at all.
Traitors and Liars. Since Allan Weinstein wrote his book Perjury three decades ago, the evidence that Soviet spies had, indeed, infiltrated American institutions and helped odious monsters like Stalin has grown year by year into a vast corpus of independently corroborating facts. A few months ago, Morton Sobell, relative of the Rosenbergs, after decades of denial, casually confessed that, yes, he was a Soviet spy. Books describing the obvious guilt of Judith Coplon have been published by respectable publishers. Scholars still are rooting through archives of old Soviet data and the result is consistently in inculpating more suspected Americans rather than prove the innocent of those victims of "Witch Hunts."
Hollywood has made many films demonizing the presumed excesses of rabid anti-communists, but nothing at all about the very real guilt of American traitors, who not only helped Stalin but also helped, for a time, Hitler. The real story is not just the Soviet spies in America, but the straight-faced denial of espionage and treason while their liberal friends defended them. The people involved are dead, but the image in the minds of Americans is still very much alive. If only some courageous Hollywood...or, did I write "courageous"? Well, never mind.
Mein Kampus. The totalitarianism on modern college campuses has passed the absurd into the hideous. Conservative speakers are routinely driven from speaking engagements, often with the tacit complicity of college administrators. Professors insist on college "studies" which are often no more than demands that students write what academic Stalinists want written. Is the imposition of thought control and speech codes on our thousands of college campuses a socially significant topic? Is the indoctrination of millions of Americans worth discussing? Is the dumbing down and brainwashing of a generation of our young people important? Awww...who cares? (No one in Hollywood.)
Misogyny, Thy Name is Islam. Wife beheading? Honor murders of daughters. Stoning of young women. Imprisonment of rape victims...for the crime of being raped. Female circumcision of young girls. If Jews or Christians did this as a matter of religious belief, it would be fodder for a whole television program, three or four films, a few celebrity concerts, and certainly an academy award nomination or two. But - - alas! - - the women are not being oppressed by the right sort of oppressors. In fairness, there are few films about the suttee in India, foot-binding in China, or the Siddhartha's attitude toward women. Even those cultures were small fry when it comes to real debasement of women, which is why NOW pickets the embassies of the worst offending Islamic nations every day - or they plan to very, very soon.
The American Film Institute, the Academy Awards, "Hollywood" (or the nebulous film industry) sees itself as controversial, cutting edge, and sophisticated. I do not mind the loony attacks on conservatives as much as I am sickened by the utter cravenness, the juvenile conformity, the sophomoric "seriousness," the eye candy in place of thought, and blandness in place of brilliance.
Once an Academy Award meant something. Now what does it mean? It is the badge of banality, the certificate of conventionality, the emblem of ennui. If someone brave and clever made a great and important film, perhaps there would be a reason to watch. But decades ago the film industry banished significance and abandoned greatness. I never, ever, expect it to make good films again, and I never, ever, expect to see the Academy Awards honor what should be honored again.