As one essayist wrote not long ago, it’s become an article of faith in Conservative America that Hollywood is a “collection of hopeless la-la-land liberals — or worse, an elitist gaggle of heartland-bashing snobs.” Conservatives have routinely ridiculed Oscar movies for attacking the military (“Avatar”), promoting homosexuality (“Milk” and “Brokeback Mountain”) and depicting corporate executives as evil villains (“The Constant Gardener” and “Syriana”).
So it must’ve been quite a shock to watch all the la-la-liberals at the Oscars Sunday night honoring their elders and celebrating tradition on a show where the first clip of the night was from “Gone With the Wind” and the two guys who may have had the most screen time were Kirk Douglas and Bob Hope. Outside of a couple of lesbian jokes and one tiny barb directed at Wall Street from documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson, the awards were drearily free of controversy, outrage or anything remotely resembling lefty sanctimony.
On the other hand, the Academy Awards were true to the spirit of this past year’s movies. As this year’s show demonstrated, Hollywood isn’t so easily stereotyped. It may be a town full of liberals, but when it comes to its most prestigious awards show, the most exalted statuettes went to films that espouse conservative values. “The King’s Speech,” which won four Oscars, including the climactic one for best picture, is a profoundly conservative film, paying tribute to King George VI, an aristocratic English monarch who, humbled by a humiliating stutter, develops a deep friendship with a commoner, his speech therapist.
The film portrays the king as a man of noblesse oblige — he sacrifices for the common good by willingly assuming the heavy mantle of leadership, even if it will expose his most embarrassing flaw. He is, in other words, resolutely Old School. Could a movie be any more richly conservative in its values than that? And yet “The King’s Speech,” from David Seidler, its writer, to Colin Firth, its leading man, to Harvey Weinstein, the studio chief who masterminded its Oscar campaign, was brought into the world by a host of ardent liberals.
The same can be said for “The Social Network,” which won three Oscars last night and was the season’s other prime best picture contender. Even though it is set in the rarefied air of Harvard, “Social Network” is far from a liberal critique of capitalistic excess. It’s a thoroughly pro-business film that celebrates the rise of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who for all his new media hip veneer is just as much of a cunning, ambitious, thoroughly cold-blooded entrepreneur as — gasp — Rupert Murdoch.
Read More at the Los Angeles Times by Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey on Entertainment and Media, The Envelope, The Los Angeles Times