There were more ethics-related events and issues at the last night’s Academy Awards than usual, and that’s an understatement;
1. Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars’ designated Johnny Carson this time around, automatically gave the ceremonies the stench of ethics blindness by his very presence. Kimmel, as this site has documented, delights in provoking parents to be cruel to their young children so he can present YouTube videos of the kids’ despair for his audience’s amusement. Kimmel, of course, being bereft of shame or decency, was the perfect choice to execute the Academy’s second most important mission of the night, which was insulting the President of the United States in an international broadcast. He did not fail his dark masters. One well-publicized “quip”:
“Maybe this is not a popular thing to say, but I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.”
Actually, the Oscars are racist, or at least racially biased, as we shall see, and there is proof. I’d like Jimmy to show me the evidence that the President is racist, however, other than the “resistance” talking points he gets in his e-mail.
2. More Kimmel: in a typical Kimmel “human beings are just props to me!” bit, he arranged for a group of unsuspecting tourists to be taken on a Hollywood bus tour that ended up at the Oscars. The group was escorted through the back doors of the Kodak Theater with no idea what was in store, as Kimmel had the house lights turned down. When the tourists—Awww, ordinary slobs! Look, Meryl! The little people!”—opened the doors to the stage, the lights came up and all the stars shouted, “Mahershala!” The tourists’ shocked, ope mouthed expression were broadcast live to the world, as their Hollywood betters laughed.
This is called exploitation, and using unconsenting human beings as a means to an end. Jimmy thinks its funny. Kant didn’t. I think it’s sometimes funny, and always unethical. Candid Camera asked for written consent before broadcasting its victims’ amusing reactions to gags like this.
3. Mel Gibson, justly nominated for his direction of “Hacksaw Ridge,” which also was nominated as Best Picture, sat up front. The Daily Beast tweeted “For Shame!” when the film won a statuette for editing, which it deserved. Let’s see: the theory is that the talented film editor should be snubbed for his work because Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite? Yes, that’s the theory. The Beast’s Amy Zimmerman wrote a pre-Oscar hate piece on Gibson, which really and truly contained these two sentences:
Hacksaw tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who enlisted as a battlefield medic during World War II. Of course, any drama that Gibson directs pales in comparison to his own behind-the-scenes odyssey: the story of an odious individual who, after years on the outskirts of Hollywood, has somehow managed to fight his way back into the mainstream.
That’s right: Amy Zimmerman thinks that the story of a religious man who volunteered to serve as a combat medic despite refusing to carry a rifle and who saved 76 wounded soldiers by dragging them to safety under enemy fire by lowering them, one by one, on a rope device he improvised on the spot, thus winning the Medal of Honor, pales in comparison to Mel Gibson’s PR problems.
Have some damn respect for those who did risked their lives incredible things so hacks like you can write garbage like that and be paid for it, you stupid, stupid fool.
4. Lesson learned: Race bullying works. The 2017 Oscars set a record for big awards won by African Americans, just one year after civil rights groups, Spike Lee, social justice warriors and elected officials torched them for failing to nominate any black artists. What an amazing coincidence! In truth, it isn’t. Here is what Ethics Alarms predicted the day after the 2016 Academy Awards…
Last night’s ceremony, from Chris Rock’s all-race monologue to the choice of the music over the credits, was a tacit commitment by the Academy to henceforth and forever name sufficient minority nominees and winners regardless of the merits of their work or the comparative merits of their work to any white artists. Diversity is officially more important than merit. By hook or by crook, there will now be prominent honors to Hollywood blacks….even if some of the honored work is crap.
Not surprisingly, given its traditional and intellectually wan reflex liberalism, Hollywood painted itself into an affirmative action and quotas mandate. After last night, the voters won’t dare fail to nominate a whole bunch of blacks, so Spike Lee will come to the ceremony. This does put pressure on black artists to actually turn in some outstanding, or at least plausibly decent, work to avoid making all those guaranteed nominations and awards look as phony and rigged as they will be.
5. Viola Davis: The human smoking gun. If you want evidence of rigging, go no further than last night’s expected award to Viola Davis as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Fences.” Davis was the obvious stand-out in “Fences”— I had only left a movie three times in my life saying, “That performance will win an Oscar,” (have been correct in all three), Davis was the fourth. Yet the Academy engaged in a little insurance, placing her performance in the Supporting Actress category to avoid any chance that the other stand-out leading actress performance, that of incredibly white Emma Stone in “La La Land,” would edge her out and risk Spike Lee’s wrath. Davis’s role was the leading female part in “Fences.” The Tonys called it a leading role. The movie is about a marriage, and she played the wife. Her role was the equivalent size, scope and challenge of most previous Best Actress roles, going back 75 years. In order to ensure Viola Davis an Oscar, the Academy cheated her out of a more prestigious one that she had earned. Or, depending on your favored conspiracy, the rigged the categories to help a white girl. Once a award show jettisons any pretense of integrity, anything is possible.
Ain’t mandatory diversity grand?
6. Casey Affleck won the Best Actor prize, and deserved it, though I would have to be at gun-point to watch the misery-fest that “Manchester-By-The-Sea” is a second time. Ethics Alarms covered the Affleck ethics issues here, and the hypocrisy they illuminate, highlighted again by the sneering at the President and Mel Gibson.
7. Gael Garcia Bernal, a Mexican actor and political activist used his speech accepting the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film to make the viewing audience dumber, as the Hollywood glitterati, applauded like Wally, the Sea World Elephant Seal. “As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that separates us,” he proclaimed. He is obviously also against any borders or laws that separate U.S. citizens from those who want to jus grab the benefits of this country without respecting its sovereignty and laws. I’m not a wall fan, but, you know, if my neighbor’s kids kept coming onto my property, setting up tents, having kids in the back yard and living there, I would build a fence to “keep us apart.” And, I suspect, so would Gael Garcia Bernal, if placed in my position.
8. The yearly “In Memoriam” botch. I have not checked for all the omissions in the annual Oscar “In Memoriam” montage, but one was obvious and inexcusable: Robert Vaughn. Vaughn had two important roles in bona fide classics, “The Magnificent Seven” and “Bullitt,” as well as many other screen credits. That alone should have guaranteed him a final bow, but he was also an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor in “The Young Philadelphians.” How hard is it to compile a list?
9. Price-Waterhouse engaged in professional malpractice on a massive scale, leading to the most embarrassing final award in this or any award show’s history. (Beauty pageants don’t count.) Because the accounting firm, famously entrusted with the tabulation of the results and the preparation of the ceremony envelopes since televised Oscars and before. allowed the wrong card to be placed in the “Best Picture” envelope, Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway announced “La La Land” as the winner, the entire “La La Land” contingent came to the podium, and mid- acceptance speech it was revealed that the real “Best Picture” was “Moonlight,” and the wrong winner had been announced.
The Oscars are Price-Waterhouse’s most visible client, and its job is much easier than doing audits for the Trump organization: just count the votes correctly and make sure the name of the winner is in the envelope. If it can’t be trusted to do that, what can it be trusted to do?
10. Hmmmmm. No reports so far have answered this question: if only Price-Waterhouse knows the results, why was the Academy so quick to step in and stop the “La La” speeches? I hope the reason isn’t that the Academy had made certain that an African-American film won, so Spike would shut up for good.
You see, once integrity has been compromised, conspiracy theories flourish.*
Maybe it was the Russians’ fault.
*UPDATE: I’m not the only one wondering…