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ISSUE 119 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/10/2006

Oscar upset upsets

By Amanda Swanson
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 10, 2006

“And the Oscar goes to…” “Crash!?” Excuse me? I must have been watching the wrong Oscars, because I could not possibly have heard correctly.

That was when the final Academy Award was announced Sunday night. Had “Capote” walked away with Best Picture I might not have minded, but personal preferences aside, I think it goes without saying that “Crash” was a dark horse.

So what were we expecting? The Golden Globes, frankly – that the winner would be the film with the most poignant and heartfelt message, and with the most artful approach to a very sensitive issue. We may offhandedly call it “the gay cowboy movie,” but that certainly does not lessen its value. On Sunday night, however, Hollywood seemed more than happy to degrade the film.

Jon Stewart, the host of the 78th annual Academy Awards, approached “Brokeback Mountain” by saying that it really tarnished the traditional Western film. He then showed a series of clips to represent what Westerns “used to be.” It was a very silly farce showing old cowboy movies spliced to imply cheap gay themes. I will admit, when they made it seem like Charlton Heston, half-naked and wanton in bed, was waiting for his male lover, I laughed. And it hurts me that I did.

Thinking back, I realize I have the chance to apply one of my classroom discussion to real life. In my media studies class we had a presentation on sexuality in the media. An issue we could not ignore was how often mainstream media forces us to laugh at the gay community in order to make it easier for us to “accept” them.

Wow. We cannot maturely handle a film that could very well be a cultural breakthrough and, as Kathleen Murthy wrote in an article for MSN Movies Online, something that finally gives us “frank gay love featured in a mainstream movie, starring A-list actors.” No, we could not just take it for what it is, we had to make jokes.

You might ague that this was the Oscars, something that makes fun of everything, and that it was Stewart hosting, someone who makes fun of everyone, but why did “Brokeback” have to suffer the majority of the puns?

I know I was disappointed when “Brokeback Mountain” did not take Best Picture. I nearly cried when Ang Lee, while accepting his Best Director award, thanked the characters, Jack and Ennis. Lee gave me hope, but the Academy ripped it away.

Why did not “Brokeback” win? There are rumors that certain Academy voters refused to screen the film for fear of “contamination.” I hope we are not this counter-progressive. Lee’s film should not be just a one-hit wonder, but the beginning of an overdue paradigm shift in modern media.

This is not the end. Most of the country and the world already paid homage to “Brokeback,” and a new age is on the way. I believe it is possible. And you know what I have to say about it? Thank God.

Staff writer Amanda Swanson is a junior from Detroit Lakes, Minn. She majors in CIS and in Asian studies.

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