Oscar Night Semantics, Semiotics, and Black and White Semaphores: Oscar Integrity is indeed GONE WITH THE WIND….


I don’t know whether you watched the Academy Awards last night but it made me ill to see that “12 Years a Slave” won best picture and that “Dallas Buyer’s Club” was second runner up after “Gravity“….  All the world is indeed a stage, but  WHO ARE THE PRODUCERS?
Who exactly arranged for “12 Years a Slave” to (a) be produced and (b) win an Oscar exactly the same year that the Episcopal Church is deepening its commitment to “Racial Reconciliation”?  As much as I loved Cate Blanchette’s  acceptance speech, I do not think there was anything “random” about the Oscar for Best Picture or Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slavealthough “subjective” is much too kind an adjective for “fixed.”
Does it have anything to do with Michelle Obama appearing magically at the end of the program last year to announce Best Picture?
Was it not eerie that Ellen DeGeneres, of all people, said right at the beginning of the ceremony:
“Possibility number one, ‘12 Years a Slave‘ wins Best  Picture. Possibility number two, you’re all racists,” said Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres, returning after seven years, as she ended her opening monologue. Well the Academy’s 6000 voters went with possibility number one.
In any other context, this would be recognized and denounced immediately as a “fix”—but not in modern America, apparently.
And the people at the Oscar Party I was attending CHEERED that comment (which I’m sure was just a surprisingly frank disclosure of Academy “insider” politics).  But nobody cheered Matthew McConaughey when he thanked GOD for the blessings he had received in his life.  And yet his speech was the sole mention of GOD all night…..
The Academy and the Anglican Church are pillars of the Establishment—representing, respectively, the New and the Old varieties of American Power.  During Barack Obama’s fifth year in office, why is it so important to be beating the dead horse of Old South Chattel Slavery?  Is it, could it be because the current political establishment needs to cover for the fact that they are planning a deeper, more permanent, and more everlasting slavery for all of us?
The worst aspect of the Oscars, in a way, for me was the “Oscar Party” I attended—which I attend every year—at the Prytania Theatre in Uptown (Audubon Park area) New Orleans.  This audience of Uptown New Orleans Sheeple cheered every time “12 Years as a Slave” was mentioned— I personally find the  cause of the success of the movie 100% political and less then 10% cinematic.  It is not exactly a BAD movie…. but the only good things about it are….emotional effect without basis in truth.
Oh, and finally, there was a 75 year anniversary tribute to The Wizard of Oz, and even a passing mention of the Special Oscar given to Judy Garland.  But no one at the Academy  (at least no one on the Televised Program) last night made absolutely ANY MENTION of Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (very early but classic Jimmy Stewart), Stagecoach (very early but classic John Wayne),  Wuthering Heights (Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Merle Oberon), Of Mice and Men (Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney), and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (with Mickey Rooney), ALL of which films (among many others in any basic Film History “must see” library) came out the same incredible cinematic year.
1939 could be described as the Zenith of “Early Hollywood’s” Glory, and the year in which it achieved its greatest triumphant status as the shaper of American mythology and representation of life and history, both distant and recent.  The movie repertoire produced that year was largely a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and entirely a Pro-White, pro-European,  pro-Christian, value laden year and positive year.  (Note what small if any role religion plays in 12 Years a Slave  compared, for instance, to GWTW, even though, realistically, Christian religion was at the heart of both Abolition and the Black Slave-Emancipation experience—though indeed Christian education was a major part of slave life, as recent studies of the Louisiana Episcopal Diocese and the life of Bishop Leonidas Polk have revealed).  But there were very few signs of cynicism or morally enigmatic gray areas in these movies. Even the dark shadows of early Cine Noir were two full years away from their full manifestation in Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon (with Humphrey Bogart) which both debuted in 1941. 
And, even more stunningly, perhaps, in the “Obituaries” department, only the most passing and ephemeral memorial was made on March 2, 2014, of America’s darling Shirley Temple Black.  In that same incredible 1939 Shirley had starred in (for her) a rather grown up, syrupy and melodramatic (but very quietly antiwar) movie, The Little Princessabout a little girl in Victorian England who searches army hospitals for her father, rumored to have died in the Second Boer War (1899-1902), which just happened to be one of the blackest and cruelest marks on Great Britain’s Imperial (and, only somewhat coincidentally, Sir Winston Churchill’s personal) escutcheon barely 40 years before the beginning of World War II.  The Little Princess was a 1939 critical and commercial success with Temple’s acting at its peak.
But of course, “commercial success” is all relative.  In addition to critical acclaim, in spite of the very tough competition in 1939, and despite its incredible length at 238 minutes, Gone with the Wind was and remains the most commercially successful movie OF ALL TIME.   GWTW won more Oscars than any movie in recent memory, including: 
“Academy Award for Best Picture, Academy Award for Best Actress, Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role,Academy Award for Best Director, Academy Award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Academy Award for Best Cinematography,Academy Honorary Award, Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Academy Award for Best Production Design, New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, People’s Choice Award for Favorite All-Time Motion Picture, Satellite Award for Best Overall DVD, Academy Award for Best Screenplay”
And even Wicked Wikipedia still acknowledges:
All Titanic phenomena aside, David O. Selznick’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s sweeping Civil War romance is still king of the movie world.
So this, you see, is the way they alter and eradicate our memory—and the memory of our world the culture which raised us all…  They remember the Wizard of Oz because it is non-threatening (at least as interpreted by most people, but 12 Years a Slave is a cultural, historical, and moral lie utterly incompatible with the realpolitik of Gone with the Wind
There is a great need for change, and reform, and a NEW WIND to be blowing—right through the Academy’s Hometown….

3 responses to “Oscar Night Semantics, Semiotics, and Black and White Semaphores: Oscar Integrity is indeed GONE WITH THE WIND….

  1. I too was mystified that they’d recognize The Wizard of Oz and not GWTW or any of the other movies you mentioned. It seems bizarre given how popular and record making, and box office huge the first of these was, and how ground breakingly innovative and influential the events of this year really were. Go figure! (And I alone in thinking that a little more film should have been devoted to Shirley Temple in the in memoriam section? She was the biggest child star ever, Number 1 at the box office for four years, and her popularity and movies saved 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Temple “Little Miss Miracle” for raising the public’s morale during times of economic hardship, even going so far as to say, As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right. She went on to be a notable humanitarian and diplomat–and yet– she garnered no special mention except a passing photo with the others who passed away last year. Surely she deserved a bit more recognition than that. I thought that was really sad!

  2. Pingback: Oscar Night Semantics, Semiotics, and Black and White Semaphores: Oscar Integrity is indeed GONE WITH THE WIND…. | Bob Hurt's Blog

  3. Dr. Lincoln, would you like to discuss the symbolism of Wizard of Oz?

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