At the Oscars, Every Film is a Swedish Film

It's been said that if India is the most religious nation in the world and Sweden the most secularized, then America is best described as a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. Nowhere is this truth more in evidence than at the Oscars a few months back.

For example, the Oscars teach that the folks who make movies and attend such ceremonies are living in a strange combination of vast, care-free wealth, commanding colossal attention from the entire world, dominating the audio, print and visual media of the world, dripping with opulence and popularity-and yet they are also a besieged people whose watchword is "courage."

And so, facing an audience of wolves who violently slapped their palms together throughout his acceptance speech, Cider House Rules screenwriter John Irving bravely thanked "the Academy for this honor to a film on the abortion subject and Miramax for having the courage to make this movie in the first place." Yes, in Millennial Hollywood, it takes nothing if not courage to make a film lauding abortion and to unflinchingly thank "everyone at Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights League", thunderous applause be damned. John Irving: Beacon of Courage in the darkness of prolife fanaticism that is Hollywood.

Likewise, Hillary Swank, Best Actress, also made it clear that she and her film Boys Don't Cry, which tells the true tale of a deeply confused young woman who passed herself off as a man and incurred the murderous wrath of some rural Neanderthals when they found her out, were also deeply courageous. Ms. Swank instructs us: "We have come a long way. To think that this movie wouldn't have been made three-and-a-half years ago... I want to thank the Academy for their support and recognition of me and my work in a movie that is so important." So in addition to her courage, Swank reveals to us that, despite the critical brickbats and mortal dangers that surround the life of the average Hollywood filmmaker who dares to praise sexual ambiguity, she bravely took the plunge. Therefore, she and her work are "important." We also get the bonus of a history lesson to learn that there has apparently been a wonderful thaw in the film industry since the Dark Ages of 1996, when the icy fist of homophobic terror gripped Tinseltown and no one in the entertainment media dared to mention, much less praise, the love that dare not speak its name. Swank, after finishing her speech, then offered a benediction from the benevolent spirit of the poor soul she played in the film, Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena: "His legacy lives on through our movie to remind us to always be ourselves, to follow our hearts, to not conform. I pray for the day when we not only accept our differences, but we actually celebrate our diversity." After this celebration of non-conformity, every single, solitary person in the house brought down the rafters with the required applause. The long night of homophobia in Hollywood is over. Quelle courge!

Speaking of non-conformity, there was also the spectacle of gothed-out Angelina Jolie's acceptance speech for her role as Best Supporting Actress, including her unnerving proclamation: "I'm so in love with my brother right now!" Despite the distinct odor of incest (which an obliging press picked up and ran with), none of this was treated with the sort of shock and icy silence that would have rightly greeted a gushing "thank you" to the Ku Klux Klan for inspiration. Instead, Time ran a short blurb which suggested, not that Jolie's behavior was creepy, but that the American people just "aren't ready" for it. As it turned out, Jolie "meant nothing by it." But by that time the damage was done. The clear subtext of the media take on this event was that further education is necessary before we, the Indian masses, shall be sufficiently tolerant of fashionable incest should our Swedish Masters ever elect to indulge in it.

Statutory rape, on the other hand, is another matter. And so, the big winner this year was American Beauty, a film whose stunningly original theme is the Family is a Prison, Middle-Class Men Are Seething Caldrons of Lust for Pubescent Girls, People in Uniform are Violent Repressed Weirdos, the Goal of Life is to Try to Hold on to Youth as Long as Possible, and, of course, that the Only Normal Well-Adjusted People are the Gay Couple Down the Street. Oh yes, and It is Better to Die in on the Pyre of Self-Destruction Than to Live in the Demands of Love or Duty. In short, "Follow Your Heart" as Ms. Swank has already instructed us. Here, especially, the chasm between those who watch movies and those who make them and hold their audience in contempt is especially wide. For, of course, most of us Indians who go to movies do not have the Swedish luxury of vast wealth and a hothouse of intellectually incestuous and uncritical peers to encourage us in the fantasy that betraying our families, forsaking the commandments and living in a fantasy of perpetual youth and infinitely malleable sexuality are sane or healthy options. We live in the real world.

This perhaps explains why none of the movies that won this year were big box office successes. It is also why the Christian view of the family is under continual assault from the Swedish Elite. For the narcissistic bromide "Follow your heart" only works for shallow, soulless, consumerist people with too much money and not enough to keep them in touch with what is human-like the family.

Copyright 2001 - Mark P. Shea