Learn, Hollywood, Learn

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Heh. Looks like I’m not the only one who noticed the off-putting preachiness of last year’s Hollywood crop. Even a liberal — sorry “liberal,” as we’re putting the word in scare quotes now till we know for sure the subject’s attitude toward Locke and David Lloyd George — such as Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir has a funny take on it as he doles out the statuettes he calls “the Liberal Guilt Awards, otherwise known as the Guilties,”

in which Hollywood congratulates itself for its general condition of progressive enlightenment and lectures the rest of us from its newfound position of half-baked moral seriousness. Now, strange to tell, this year’s nominated films are exactly the same for both the Academy Awards and the LGAs.

Among the nominees are:

“Brokeback Mountain”

Message: A three-parter, as I see it. 1) Real, manly men sometimes like to, you know, do it with other real, manly men. 2) Gay people who had to live in the closet were damaged or even destroyed by the experience. 3) The effects of closeted sexuality were more widespread than that; it damaged the American Family, dammit!

“Good Night, and Good Luck”

Message: Television can speak truth to power or lull us with mindless pap. If we lose faith in popular journalism as a last line of defense against demagogues and autocrats, we’re in deep … whoops! Too late!


Message: Violence begets violence. An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. Oh, and: Dad? Where are you, Dad?


Message: Race in America: It’s complicated, yo! (Or, as Stephanie put it in her review: Racism is bad for children and other living things.)

He’s especially good on “Crash,” because he’s especially hard on it. But then a bad review is always much more fun to read than a good one.

This entire film is a spinach-flavored schematic, going from one overloaded symbolic encounter between angst-ridden people of different ethnicities to another. … You could say that “Crash” is aware of the ironies and contradictions of race in America, but that’s literally the only thing it’s aware of. It’s grasping you by the lapels, like that uncle you generally avoid at family gatherings, and screaming into your face: “My God! The contradictions!” It virtually throbs with meaning, and it’s the kind of migraine throb that approaches meaninglessness.