The Oscar and the pro-establishment academy
UĞUR VARDANLast week, late Sunday night (Feb. 24), around 6 a.m. local time in Turkey, the announcement from the White House by Michelle Obama of “Argo” as the “best picture” was maybe the most universal definition of “being a proponent.” Actually, when the Academy was selecting Ben Affleck’s film, it was documenting its loyalty to the system, not to Barack Obama. Yes, there may sometimes be a Republican or sometimes a Democrat president in the oval office, but what is important is to sustain the system and to treasure and look after American interests in every corner of the planet. His Excellency, in his first work, “Good Will Hunting,” shot 15 years ago together with Matt Damon and bringing them to fame, had included America’s opponent leftists Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. Affleck, in his acceptance speech this year, referred to that film, “And I’d just like to say, I was here 15 years ago (they had received the best screenplay also at that time), and I had no idea what I was doing.” He is right; he now knows what he’s doing and attains the award.
Now, let’s find the real perpetrator: According to my humble opinion, “Argo,” together with “Zero Dark Thirty,” which was also nominated in several categories, while trying to achieve “CIA propaganda,” ended up becoming two documents of shame. But the real shame is the Academy’s stance that awarded this film with an Oscar. Because, for example, in the 70s, the Academy would have had a high opinion of or reward such films as “Coming Home” or “The Deer Hunter” about the Vietnam War and its trauma and would adopt an anti-militarist stance. It would also nominate and reward such productions as “The Three Days of the Condor,” which aired the dirty linen of the CIA, or “All the President’s Men,” that featured the Watergate Scandal as a background. Yes, the world of those times had a completely different definition of artists and cinema. I guess the members of the Academy today think their real mission is to support national interests. As far as I know, the critics want to show the truth, to contribute to human history rather than to patriotic literature. Ben Affleck has chosen the easy way with his film and the Academy has told him, “Way to go, Ben.”
If you place Cafer Panahi under house arrest
At this juncture, I believe that even the “Bourne” serial that reflects the feelings of the present day agent has a more logical and ethical attitude. Well, what about the Iranian front? Let me address them as such: “If you keep such a creative director as Cafer Panahi under house arrest, then an American will arrive and depict you as monsters and idiots. There could be those who would say, “But the same Academy awarded an Iranian film ‘A Separation’ two years ago.” It would have been a major shame and cinematic ignorance for everybody not to award “A Separation” and not to acknowledge its value. I am not saying that the Academy does not understand cinema, I am only saying, It has given up prioritizing preferences such as being honorable, being intellectual and having a conscience.
The Academy has chosen to bless the film “Argo,” which is a sort of legalization attempt of a possible military operation against Iran expected soon, to share the issue with the masses and warm them for the future.
After the award, on the Iranian front, Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini said, “We were not expecting our enemies to do anything better. Hollywood distorts history. This film is a part of the soft war against Iran.” I don’t need to repeat my views on “Argo” because I have told them many times. As a matter of fact, I guess Ben Affleck is not the offender in this case.
Uğur Vardan is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece appeared on March 4. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.
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