- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oscar illusion

“The 78th Academy Awards … has the same mission that it did when Louis B. Mayer convinced the other studio moguls to create the event in 1927: ‘establish the industry in the public’s mind as a respectable institution.’ Now … the evening-long informational will further the long-standing myth that Hollywood is in the business of making great — and original — movies.

“This illusion, like all successful deceptions, requires misdirecting the audience’s attention from reality to a few brilliant aberrations. Take this year’s Best Picture nominations: ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ ‘Capote,’ ‘Crash,’ ‘Munich,’ and ‘Good Night, and Good Luck.’ What all of these films have in common is that they have virtually nothing to do with the real business of the Hollywood studios. …

“[A]s satisfying as these art films may be to directors, writers, actors, and producers, they do not lend themselves to sequels, prequels, or other licensable properties. They do, however, perform one function very well: acting as decoys at Hollywood’s annual celebration of itself.”

Edward Jay Epstein, writing on “The Oscar Deception,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com.

Killer icon

“In the 1970s, Western statesmen flocked to Beijing to pay homage to Mao Tse-tung, the ruler of a quarter of the Earth’s population. … Mao became a pop icon in the West. Andy Warhol painted his portrait. …

“The real Mao was of course straight out of some Nietzschean nightmare, a leader totally devoid of morals. …

“To achieve his superpower ambitions, Mao wanted to develop heavy industry in record time. He instigated the Great Leap forward in May 1958. To pay for it, he waged war on the peasants, forcibly confiscating their crops and their livestock. As a result, some 38 million died of starvation. … When his officials tried to tell him about the consequences of his policies, Mao brushed them off. He was economically illiterate. …

“As to Mao’s particular style of rule, Khrushchev said, when ‘I look at Mao, I see Stalin, a perfect copy.’ Mao ruled not through personal magnetism or oratory, but through campaigns, resolutions, edicts and terror. …

“Altogether more than 70 million people died in peacetime because of him.”

Henrik Bering, writing on “Red Emperor,” in the February-March issue of Policy Review.

Blue media

“[I]n the aftermath of Dick Cheney’s hunting accident … [t]he media’s outrage has been loud and protracted about the vice president’s decision not to notify the press immediately — and to release the news through a private citizen to a local newspaper.

“[T]he hysteria over the Cheney accident itself only underlines the monolithic mindset and life experience of most of the national press — nary a hunter in sight — and its psychological and physical distance from everyday Red State values and pursuits.

“A recent UCLA study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, found that nearly all major media outlets tilt to the left. The findings were surprising only to those who have never observed the mainstream media’s treatment of the GOP. The bias explains why Republicans are happy to offer stories to local, rather than national, press; they have a greater chance of being treated fairly.

“As of March of 2005, some polls were showing that journalists were less well thought of than lawyers, auto mechanics and even politicians. Episodes like the media frenzy of last week explain why.”

Carol Platt Liebau, writing on “Why Do They Hate Us?” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org.

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