Now here’s a special segment featuring two of our contributors who have ideas about the Academy Awards. First Jeff Greenfield on what the Oscars might look like as a political campaign. After that, David Poland talks about Banksy, the famous graffiti artist who’s movie Exit Through the Gift Shop has been nominated for an Academy Award. Banksy wants to appear in disguise, but the Academy doesn’t want him to. Here’s Jeff.
The Oscar campaign season is in full swing right now, with ads in the trade papers, radio and TV appearances by the stars, lunches, dinners. But to someone whose beat is politics, I find that something is missing. There are no negative "attack" ads designed to instill fear and loathing in the hearts of Oscar voters. What would happen I wondered if movie studios went out and hired brought in political "hired guns" to create "attack" ads aimed at their competitors? What would they look like? I think they’d look something like...this.
CLIP FROM KING’S SPEECH
"It’s called 'the King's Speech'. But when it comes to the shocking truth, there’s something they don’t want to talk about…”
"They don't mention that Edward and Wallis were big fans of....that's right....Adolph Hitler."
"And they don't mention that this King George has the same name as...this King George....”
"The one our Founding Fathers fought the American revolution against. On February 27th, say 'no!' to foreign tyranny...say no to The King’s Speech.”
Of course, the producers of "the King's Speech" would have an attack ad of their own, aimed at one of their chief rival:
"It's the worst economic crisis since the depression...shuttered factories...millions out of work...millions more who have lost their homes.
"in these troubled times, what film should win America's highest honor?
CLIP FROM SOCIAL NETWORK
"Should it be a film that celebrates privileged young punks, at our most elite university, spending their time in binge drinking and promiscuous sex. Earning billions by luring our young people into mindless hours in front of a screen? Is this the message we want to send to a world we desperately need to finance our debt? On February 27th, tell these millionaires and billionaires there's something money can't buy--and his name is…Oscar."
I'm not Harvey Weinstein--and I approve this message.
CUT TO DAVID POLAND PIECE
Hi, I’m David Poland and this is Banksy, and this is the monkey mask they’re hoping we won’t see him wear on the Academy Awards on Sunday night. You may wonder why they care so much about this considering that Ben Stiller played Joaquin Phoenix on the show, we’ve had streakers on the show, we’ve had Sacheen Littlefeather picking up an award for Marlon Brando. All crazy events that people remember fondly and yet, somehow this guy picking up an Oscar for Exit Through the Gift Shop, too much to bear.
This is Banksy reporting live from Los Angeles for Ebert Presents. I have come to Los Angeles to win an Academy Award. I’ve been nominated for my film Exit Through the Gift Shop. When I got here, I did some work and low and behold, nobody appreciated it, they just wanted to see something else, they didn’t think it was that exciting so they just tore it all down. It didn’t take long for the illusion of Los Angeles to wear off on me or any of the illusions about the Academy Awards. It’s a wonderful evening, it’s an exciting night, it’s so thrilling yet we forget within a year, within 6 months, within 20 minutes just what happened.
The thing about Oscar night is that everybody dresses up in their best clothes, go out and put their best face forward. Anything can happen. They meet some of their friends in show-business like Charlie here, they just hang out and have a good time and what’s the worst that can happen? You end up eating Wolfgang Puck’s food at the end, you go to the Vanity Fair party and you know, you didn’t win the Oscar, but there is a chance, there’s always that chance that you can go home with that award and that’s what makes it an exciting evening for this town. Need a light there Charlie? Come on, there you go.
I guess the question in the end is do I really love the Oscars? Well, of course I love the Oscars, it’s like springtime every year. If you love the movies, you have to love the Oscars. Kids love the Oscars, adults love the Oscars, everybody loves the Oscars.