James posted earlier today about Annie Proulx's scathing bitch-slapping of the Academy Awards. Say what you will about whether old Annie is full of sour grapes; she's always been full of what my grandmother would have admiringly called "piss and vinegar", and she is one of my personal heroes as a writer. James called her piece "scathing, coarse and wrathful" and I suppose it is all those things; more than that, however, Proulx is unflinchingly honest in revealing a side of the glittery, sparkling, Oscars that you won't see depicted on E! or anywhere else. She totally de-glamorizes Hollywood's most gratuitous event, rather like someone revealing that the elaborately decorated cake you can't wait to have a taste of is display-window dressing - nothing more than a cardboard box underneath.
The most revealing bit in Proulx's piece, however, was not her vitriolic attacks on Crash and the merit of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's acting skill - it was her description of protesters at the Oscars, "hordes of the righteous, some leaning forward like wind-bent grasses, the better to deliver their imprecations against gays and fags to the open windows of the limos". I read that line and my initial reaction was - huh?!? There were protesters at the Oscars - people yelling about "gays and fags", waving signs about? I watched every single moment of the Oscars, from red carpet to the E! after party coverage. The picture accompanying this piece is from the protests at the 2003 Oscars; I couldn't find any pictures of the protests this year. Nobody - nobody - reported on the presence of people protesting Brokeback Mountain.Which begs the question, why?
Way back in 1999, when Elia Kazan was awarded, at long last, his honorary Oscar, there were people protesting Kazan - and there was news coverage of the protesters. Heck, there were even people protesting everything from the lack of Hispanic actors in film to the absence of full-frontal male nudity. In 2003, there was coverage of who was protesting the war in Iraq, and who wasn't. But this year? People protesting Brokeback Mountain? Homophobia at the Oscars? *chirp chirp*
So, what gives? Is this a major Hollywood case of "if we ignore it, it doesn't exist"? A mass attempt to defuse accusations that Brokeback was denied the Best Picture award because of its content? Some of our commenters on James' post have noted the outright hypocrisy of it all; if there were rumors swirling that Academy members had refused to see Crash because there are African-Americans in the film, or Munich because there are Jews, you wouldn't be able to stop the flow of outrage no matter how hard you tried. How about if the KKK had come out to protest a film that featured black actors? Do you imagine for a minute that wouldn't have been on every news broadcast, paper and website around the country in the time it takes to say "and the Oscar goes to...Crash"? But protesters carrying signs about "fags"? Heck, I guess we can just look the other way on that one, right? Who cares if people are protesting a film about them homosexuals, anyway? Certainly not any of the major news and entertainment outlets. Because everyone knows, there's no homophobia in Hollywood. Certainly not.