The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Election + Oscar pundits = absurd

November 6, 2008 | 12:33 pm

Oscar_3Anyone who doesn't believe that the Oscars haven't been thoroughly hijacked by a gang of daffy, clown-suit-clad Oscar bloggers making endlessly moronic best picture predictions just hasn't been paying attention. But now apparently every world news event qualifies as having a seismic influence on the Oscar race. Variety's Anne Thompson -- a journalist I respect -- seems to have temporarily lost her marbles, claiming in her blog that the passage of Proposition 8's gay marriage ban "could actually boost" "Milk's" Oscar chances, saying that "the fact that California did not defeat the ban could energize the largely liberal academy base" and make voters realize "that we have not come far enough."

Over at Entertainment Weekly's Oscar blog, Dave Karger is claiming that "this week's election-day results may have a profound effect" on the best picture chances of ... "The Dark Knight"! I have to admit that I read his post four or five times, worried that I'd somehow missed the gag. But apparently Karger is serious, claiming that because part of the film "speaks to the innate goodness of human behavior" and because Oscar ballots are due Jan. 12, that "most Hollywood types" will be swayed to give awards to the picture. What is the magical significance of Jan. 12? you're probably asking. 

IT'S JUST A WEEK BEFORE BARACK OBAMA'S INAUGURATION, YA DUMMY! Don't you think you'll be in a mood to reward innate human goodness right about then? And when you think of innate human goodness, don't you immediately summon up your favorite scenes from "The Dark Knight"? DON'T YA?

Frankly, I don't know whether to laugh or weep. If I were a conservative, I'd be tempted to say all this pie-in-the-sky blather is a perfect example of how liberal media types are swooning over the kumbaya spirit of the new post-Bush era. Or deluded into thinking that handing "Milk" an Oscar would actually for a second change the minds of all the closed-minded people out there who seem threatened or offended by the idea of two gay people in love being allowed to say their vows.

All this probably tells us is that Oscar watchers are so obsessed by, well, their obsession with the awards racket that they assess every event through the golden statue prism. (It's not so different than the way my Great-Aunt Toots used to react to the news, be it of Russia electing a new premier or a department store going out of business, by remarking: "Is this bad for the Jews?")

I'm sure plenty of Oscar voters are ticked off that Prop 8 (nicknamed Prop Hate in many Hollywood quarters) is such a step backward for our normally tolerant state. But does that really mean that after they're dazzled by "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" or enraptured by "Slumdog Millionaire," that they'll react by saying -- try to hear the robotic tone of this voice in your head -- "I know that was a wonderful movie, but I must remember there are more serious matters in the world than a wonderful cinematic experience. I must vote my political conscience during this important Oscar season."

Yeh, right.

Photo of Oscar statues by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

(Editor's note: Oops. Earlier in the day we mistakenly wrote "election" instead of "inauguration" when referring to what's going to happen with Obama in Janurary.)

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