The Oscars and U.S. State Propaganda

In the light of the revelations by legendary journalist Seymour Hersh on the killing of Osama Bin Laden which since then has been attacked by several others. Gawker has a shortened version of Hersh’s lengthy essay here. Vox has a comprehensive critique right here. I decided to watch Katheryn Bigelow’s second Oscar winning effort, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (2012) after Hersh’s ‘theory’ contained a few references to which  was embroiled in controversy when it came out. It was described as the “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man”.
Mark Boal’s traumatic experiences as a freelance journalist reporting in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan.
Edgar Ramirez who plays a CIA operative in Pakistan also played a role as a CIA assassin in the ‘Bourne Ultimatum’. Fun fact, Ramirez supports the campaign ‘No Dispares’ (Don’t Shoot), by Amnesty International. The campaign’s purpose is to eliminate the number of injuries and deaths caused by the irresponsible use of guns. See what I did there?
 In 2012, Zero Dark Thirty’s biggest competitor was Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’, another C.I.A. story that was wonderfully described by Wide Asleep in America as “a decontextualized, ahistorical ‘true story’ of Orientalist proportion, subjecting audiences to two hours of American victimization and bearded barbarians, culminating in popped champagne corks and rippling stars-and-stripes celebrating our heroism and triumph and their frustration and defeat.”

If The Hurt Locker was about the inner struggles of the patriotic white man fighting against the barbaric Muslim Arabs, Zero Dark Thirty is about a cut-throat CIA female operative that uses torture and successfully reveals the location of ‘the most dangerous person attacking the free world of ‘Murica’. The sickening narrative is present throughout popular films in Hollywood whether they’re award winners or blockbusters.

Black Hawk Down was about the US intervention in Somalia, The Deer Hunter and The Thin Red Line are other Oscar winners/nominees that effectively contains one-sided narrations of ‘Murica’s heroic efforts to curb terror around the world. Compelling performances by Christopher Walken, Robert De Niro,

Watch Aamer Rahman nailing it here.
Her 2009 award was touted as the first female best director win at the Oscars and also as the underdog versus the cash-backed ‘Avatar’ by her ex-husband, James Cameron.
The Hindu reported PBS Frontline Channel’s documentary ‘Secrets, Politics and Torture’
Following the controversy, 2015 Academy Awards saw ‘Art’s win over propaganda’ with Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ losing out on all the categories that it was nominated in. Bear in mind that Eastwood’s directorial ventures usually involve the underdog hero, American Sniper may have been a product of that rather than statism. Apart from the fact that Innaritu’s ‘Birdman’ is an interesting watch, these kinds of media-planted narratives that precede any award distribution dilutes art and film’s roles as critiques of culture and politics. The neatly packed marketing wet dream sponsored by your favourite burger joint ends up being a celebration of celebrities by celebrities filling corporate coffers with taxpayer money abiding by state propaganda. Our very own Manikchand Filmfare Awards pale in comparison. But then again, we have IPL and ISL. Bollywood 2 Hollywood 1.
Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ is taught in several history of film classes as Soviet propaganda which is true, but somehow the CIA sponsored Oscar winners which are celebrated as the best of US cinema aren’t discussed in the same category. The Screeching Kettle has some interesting things to say about Oscar propaganda using taxpayer dollars.
John Legend’s passionate call for black civil rights and Patricia Arquette’s talk about the gender wage gap may be admirable, but this celebrity espousal of issues that they don’t work on or have no clue about is hypocritical. Though I have to say this piece by Death and Taxes Mag about Liberal Hollywood Hashtag Activism irking conservatives is interesting.



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