Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When Paddy Chayefsky Called Out Vanessa Redgrave for Politicizing the Oscars, and was Roundly Cheered

It was at the 1978 Academy Awards, and Chayefsky was merely a presenter. (He had won Best Screenplay the year before for Network.) But he took a few sentences to politely but pointedly call out Vanessa Redgrave for denouncing "Zionist Hoodlums" while accepting the Best Supporting Actress for Julia:
Before I get on to the Writing Award, there's a little matter I'd like to tidy up, at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning. I would like to say - personal opinion, of course - that I'm sick and tired of people exploiting the occasion of the Academy Awards (loud cheers) for the propagation of their own personal political propaganda (cheers). I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation and a simple "thank you" would have sufficed (cheers and applause).
This was a different time, and while it's fair to say that Hollywood was quite "liberal" in those days, I'm not sure the ideology had quite the same monolithic or, perhaps we should even say, totalitarian hold on the community as it does in 2017.

In fact, I know it didn't. And here's why:

Redgrave received gasps and boos (as well as, to be fair, some cheers at the end). Chayefsky was loudly cheered.

The blunt Chayefsky (who would pass away only a few years later at the young age of 58) was absolutely right, of course. But it's notable that no one today would risk making the same sort of statement.

He or she would might be summarily lynched by aged-starlets and pajama-boy actors.

And speaking of courage, as much as I dislike Redgrave's politics and political persona, her 1978 speech, as inappropriate as it was, arguably did take a bit of courage, as it probably alienated a significant amount of the audience.

Contrast that with the faux "courage" of Meryl Streep a few days ago at the Golden Globes, whose lies and smears about Trump and Trump supporters were met with nothing but ernest tears and applause by almost all of the assembled sheeperati.

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn glared at her. That was about it.

But Streep was right about one thing she implied. There's lot's of lock-step fascism in this country right now. You know very well which side embodies it. 

Those readers who are parishioners at St. John Cantius in Chicago may notice a certain resemblance (in face but especially voice) between Chayefsky and a certain highly regarded priest. That's a compliment to both of them.


  1. Golden Globes are a good source of bizarre news like the time Lars von Trier declared himself a Nazi in an interview about Melancholia - the only movie he ever did that is semi-watchable. Kirsten Dunst's expression was priceless. The Oscars are what they've always been: Hollywood handing out awards to itself. There was a time they were mildly entertaining. Come to think of it, there was a time Hollywood was entertaining, in the days of the lunatic immigrants who built a new industry from scratch. Hollywood didn't take itself as seriously in those days. They cranked out product, with each studio in its own style, from humble Universal's monster movies to MGMs immaculate star vehicles.

  2. I haven't seen Trier's recent more controversial films but I have a love/hate thing about his earlier ones. I liked the performances in Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves even though it seemed like Trier might have been laughing at his viewers through both of them - "See, I've made these excruciating sadism/masochism fests and made you care..."

  3. Only vintage films have anything to offer.
    There isn't anything much more obnoxious than has been's fighting to stay relevant and hip. They swim with the tide and pretend it's "courageous". It's like coming out was for homosexuals. Once upon a time, thirty years ago, a celebrity who came out was being "courageous" in a way, because their was a price to pay. About ten years ago, it became hip to come out, and then the flood of faux gays are out like trout, but they were probably never in! It's all very cloying.
    Celebrities are like hookers with opinions. "nobody pays you to think dear".

  4. If the political opinion is relevant to the role they're being given an award for then I see no problem. I find the opinion of these actors irrelevant and uninteresting, so I'm not bothered. Why she is getting so much attention is beyond me.

  5. It is disgusting seeing fake news being made.