Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Lying At The Oscars

I know it was a few days ago, but I'm still steamed at Michael Moore for his inappropriate behavior on Oscar night. I may hate war but think it's a necessary evil; I hate deception in the name of truth much, much more, and believe it's NEVER appropriate.

And Moore was inappropriate on so many levels. Here's what I wrote in response to a student comment about it today in our school's online forum:

Those who saw the Oscars may have been disgusted, as I was, with his tactics. He invited ALL 5 of the nominees for the award he won (best feature-length documentary) to join him on stage, which looked, at first, like a wonderful gesture of collegiality, a kind of "we all win just for producing good documentary."

And then he used them without their permission. He took away their voice. He used them horribly.

His words at the Oscars were inclusive of that group; he used "we" to describe his own feelings, and specifically used langauge which would suggest that the "we" he was referring to began with his fellow documentary-makers. He made it look as if all the people on stage stood in solidarity with both a) his relatively extreme position on the war, and b) the position that the Oscars was the place to speak out against the war so avidly. In other words, the language he used forcibly took away the rights of those people to speak for themselves. That was the most machiavellian tactic I have seen in a long time, and I cannot respect Moore for it.

And, it would seem, neither could the members of the academy. Note that he was booed by the majority of the audience at the Oscars for his approach -- not for WHAT he said, but for using the Oscars as a political platform, and for stealing the voices of others without their permission to do so. Moore used us; he used his peers; he used the Academy. Nothing can excuse that. Nothing should.

But worse, after I posted, David, the extraordinarily liberal head of theatre here at NMH, went on to post the following:

I was not a fan of Michael Moore before the Oscars and am even less so after what I agree was his abusive behavior at that ceremony. To my mind, Moore's Oscar reflected a true knee-jerk response by the Hollywood establishment. As others have pointed out, Bowling For Columbine was itself a "fictitious" documentary which manipulated and falsified information in a manner usually associated with propoganda. If you felt (as most trusting moviegoers did) that the film offered an honest-if-humorous treatment of its subject matter, you might want to take a look at the attached article. As Joshua has often pointed out, quite rightly, there are a lot of ways in which our emotional responses as viewers can be manipulated in dishonest ways.

So let me get this straight. Bowling for Columbine isn't a documentary by the academy's standards, or by any reasonable interpretation of such standards, Blair Witch and Spinal Tap notwithstanding. It's the most manipulative excuse for fiction pretending to be a documentary the world has ever seen.

Don't believe me? Read James Berardinelli's damn article.

So even though I've already managed to boycott Bowling for Columbine despite the recommendations of the liberals around me, next year, although for a media teacher it's a kind of pedagogical error to do so, I'm boycotting the Oscars, too. Thanks, Mike, for ruining it for me. And sorry, Shaw, for I know that Moore is -- hopefully was -- your kind of hero.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:16 PM |

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