March 23, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Booing for Columbine

It was a strange night at the Oscars—not that the ceremony is ever a shining example of normalcy. Misogynist rapper Eminem won an award for "Best" Song. A relative unknown—Adrien Brody—beat out heavyweights Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine to win Best Actor. Venerable director Martin Scorcese was shut out yet again when convicted statutory rapist Roman Polanski won the Best Director award (in absentia). But strangest of all was the anti-war, anti-Bush rant that filmmaker Michael Moore spewed out after winning Best Documentary Feature for his anti-gun piece "Bowling for Columbine":

"I've invited my fellow documentary nominees on stage with us here in
solidarity with me because we like non-fiction, and we live in fictitious
times. We live in a time when we have fictitious election results that elect
fictitious presidents. We live in a time where we have a man sending us
to war for fictitious reasons, whether it's the fiction of duct tape, or the
fiction of orange alert—we are against this war Mr. Bush, shame on you
Mr. Bush, shame on you. Anytime you have the pope and the Dixie
Chicks against you, your time is up."

But it wasn't the content of Moore's tirade that surprised me. Anti-Bush/anti-war sentiment can be found in liberal Hollywood by the truckload. What I found strange—and refreshing—was the resounding chorus of boos that greeted Moore. Certainly, a few cheers went up from the star-studded audience, but for the most part, he was literally booed off the stage just as he was getting warmed up.

I'm cynical enough to believe that the boos arose more from an offended sense of dignity at Moore's disruption of what was otherwise a dignified and somber ceremony, rather than from an objection to the filmmaker's political views. The celebrities seemed to favor toned-down, almost meek political expressions, such as Chris Cooper's "In light of all the troubles in this world, I wish us all peace," and Susan Sarandon's simple flashing of a two-finger "Peace" sign. Moore, by contrast, rumbled across the stage like a bull in a china shop.

Nevertheless, it was heartening to see Hollywood stars display some propriety for a change by expressing their disapproval. Moore is entitled to his opinion, and while I don't agree with it, I respect his right to voice it. But the exercise of one's right to free speech should be tempered with a deference to the appropriateness of the venue.

Perhaps the American people will exercise their freedom of choice on Moore the way they did on the Dixie Chicks—though I would venture to guess that few have ever heard of the documentarian before tonight.


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Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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3/22: Not Recommending Diving
3/21: Works in Progress
3/20: Three Rings of Shock & Awe
3/19: Paris—A Beautiful Blur
3/18: Ignorant Idiot Man
3/17: The Pirate Queen
3/16: To War or Not to War
3/15: So Long, Seau
3/14: Telemarketing Pays
3/13: Free, For Now
3/12: Chicken Little Gets Respect
3/11: Axis of Evil
3/10: Writing Kept Me From Writing
3/9: King Arthur
3/8: The Women are Smarter
3/7: Salt on Old Wounds
3/6: 3/3/03, 3:33 p.m.
3/5: Beer Day
3/4: Pulling the Trigger
3/3: Make 'Em Laugh
3/2: Whither Iraq?
3/1: Strickland Cellars
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