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It's conservative vs liberal America

Across the United States, conservatives seethed that their point of view was not represented in the films honoured.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 16:47 IST
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The divide between conservative and liberal America was on full display at this weekend's Oscars awards, in which many of the winners and losers championed social and political topics heralded by the left.

But across the United States, in blogs and on call-in radio talk shows, conservatives seethed that their point of view was not represented in the choice films honored with nominations -- let alone among those given awards.

"This year's Oscar nominees include stories of homosexual sheep herders, a transvestite, and Japanese prostitutes," the conservative Concerned Women for America group (CWA) lamented on its website.

American conservatives, associated with the 'red' Republican Party, are accustomed to frowning at liberal Hollywood, but they were more disaffected than ever by the left-of-center themes of this year's Oscar nominees.

This year's nominees, CWA wrote, promoted "a liberal bias on the issues of terrorism, police brutality, and communism during the Cold War."

The group complained that the few Hollywood films it approved of had loads of popular appeal and impressive box office, but "got the cold shoulder from Hollywood elitists."

Conservative America long has been at odds with liberal Tinseltown, championing films with religious overtones like the blockbuster Passion of the Christ, which was snubbed at the 2004 Oscars.

This year another hit with Christian overtones -- The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- has raked in more than 637 million dollars in ticket receipts around the world, but barely merited any interest from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which makes the Oscar nominations.

The conservative Family Research Council noted that Narnia's ticket sales nearly equaled those of the five best picture Oscar nominees combined.

"This year's anticipated Oscar-winning movies, reviewed in light of their box office appeal, reveal Hollywood's true motives. They are far less concerned about entertaining people than they are with trying to shape the culture and advance a political agenda."

Hollywood's liberal establishment said little at Sunday night's Oscars ceremony to deny that with the most recent crop of nominees it had worn its left-leaning views on its sleeve.

"We are a little bit out-of-touch in Hollywood every once in a while," actor and political activist George Clooney said in a speech accepting his Oscar for best supporting actor.

"We're the ones who talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular," he said.

"I'm proud to be a part of this Academy. Im proud to be part of this community. I'm proud to be out-of-touch."

While no film receiving a major nomination had a perceptibly Christian bent, some social conservatives said they approved of the wholesome "March of the Penguins" -- a documentary celebrating the monogamous mating rituals and domestic lives of the Antarctic birds. The film won the Oscar Sunday for best documentary.

The movie for which Clooney received his Oscar -- the anti-big business, anti-oil industry film Syriana -- was hardly the edgiest, nor the one that raised the most eyebrows in the American heartland. That honour went to Brokeback Mountain which addressed a secret homosexual affair between two cowboys.

Conservative pundits said it is a story which heartland America likely will never turn out to see.

"I really don't think America is ready for a homosexual love story like this," Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the conservative Family Research Council, told the Los Angeles Times recently.

"I'm sure it has a great deal of appeal within the Hollywood community itself, which is already committed to a pro-homosexual ideology, but I can't see it as a big box-office success."

Meanwhile racial intolerance was the theme of Crash, while political intolerance a major subject of Good Night, and Good Luck, produced by Clooney -- neither themes that heartland America typically has warmed to.

Fairly typical was the blog item posted by one aggrieved conservative writer Monday after the Oscars were over.

"The crazy thing is that a lot of the movies that won were movies that villainize conservatives or are generally anti-conservative/Republican," he wrote on the right-of-center website.

"If you want to be truly courageous and take actual risks then make a movie that gives conservatives a fair shake or, God forbid, make a movie where a liberal is the bad guy."