Harvey Weinstein’s odious Oscar push
I was rooting for Silver Linings Playbook for Best Picture the other night as suspected I might when I reviewed it last year. It’s probably not quite typical Best Picture quality, but then I would argue neither is Argo.
I have to tell you though, when I learned about producer Harvey Weinstein’s efforts to get SLP the Oscar win, I was glad it didn’t get the Oscar. Yesterday Vulture reported that in the final push for the movie, Weinstein hired 2012 Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter to promote it.
That in itself is fine. But why exactly she was hired according to Vulture put me off a little bit. According to Vulture, Cutter was hired to promote the film “not just as a well-made movie, but a culturally relevant and especially politically significant film that was shaping the national conversation about mental health triggered in part by the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.”
Ugh. So basically what you have here is the slimy Weinstein exploiting a national tragedy so his movie, which has absolutely no relevance in preventing another Newtown, can hopefully sell a few more DVDs after Hollywood proclaims it Best Picture. Pretending his trivial little movie that culminates in a dance contest is “an especially politically significant film shaping the national conversation.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of why the whole episode is just disturbing.
Right now you have an administration that is pursuing gun control in its many forms, and spending taxpayer money to explore the causes of gun violence. I’m not a big “blame Hollywood” kind of guy for gun violence, but there’s no doubt Hollywood and violent video games play at least a small role in it. The Aurora shooter last summer likened himself to the Joker, for God’s sake, as he shot up a showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
Meanwhile Weinstein had another movie up for Best Picture this year, one he apparently chose not to promote as much as SLP. That movie was Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, the ultra-violent movie starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Christoph Waltz even won on Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for it. To be honest, I liked the movie and I like Tarantino.
But how can we really take Hollywood seriously with people like Weinstein in it? In a time where we’re looking at imposing restrictions on lawful gun owners for the actions of a few, Weinstein not only refuses any culpability movies like Django might have in influencing young minds, he pretends Hollywood is actually leading the way shaping those young minds in a positive way.
Michelle Obama agrees, apparently, at least as long as people like Harvey Weinstein are throwing her husband $38,500 a plate fundraisers. Weinstein supposedly was the one who came up with the idea to have Obama co-present Best Picture with Jack Nicholson, and he was no doubt thrilled when Obama thanked Hollywood for encouraging children “to open their imaginations.”
Perhaps that would have been more appropriate in introducing Brave as the winner for Best Animated Feature. Not so much for Argo or any other rated R movie that wins Best Picture. But whatever. It was just painful watching Michelle Obama not only give Hollywood a pass for its role in our violent culture, it was painful watching her put on an expensive dress (with military service men and women serving as Hollywood background props) and actually celebrate it.
And it’s painful just watching our politicians participate in something as trivial as the process of Hollywood honoring itself. Joe Biden, in his quest to supposedly learn more about mental illness as related to gun violence, met in his office with SLP star Bradley Cooper and its director David O. Russell. I’m sure he learned a lot in his quest to reduce gun violence. According to Vulture:
Indeed, in the run-up to the Oscars, Silver Linings seemed to undertake a series of self-administered pats on the back “for making progress towards removing the stigma of mental illness,” as proclaimed by a February Center for American Progress press conference featuring SilverLinings star and Best Actor Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, along with two Democratic pols, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and former Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.
The whole thing just encapsulates what many Americans hate about Hollywood and our politicians. Too much window dressing, not enough substance and solving actual problems. In a time of extreme economic uncertainty, I suppose it was actually tactful for Michelle to wear only a $9,000 dress while addressing Weinstein and his ilk on Sunday. After all, most ladies on the red carpet spent much, much more than that.
I myself am just happy Weinstein couldn’t buy himself an Oscar win by enlisting the aid of politicians, who really kind of have more important things they’re supposed to be doing. Although rest easy Mr. Weinstein–I’ll still probably still buy a Silver Linings Playbook DVD.