I don't care about the Oscars

Or to put it more directly: The Oscars? I don’t give a crap.

They’re a bore. A self-absorbed exercise. Phony.

Nonetheless, we’re getting treated to the annual ponderous and flagellating analysis about the real meaning of the Oscar nominations. as if what Hollywood voting for what it likes about Hollywood is worth our time.

The race lobby is making its usual noise this year about possible racism in the fact that “Selma” was merely nominated for best picture, but what about awards for this or that and him or her? (Where else but the New York Times?) Predictably, America’s chief race batter, Al Sharpton is calling oscarfor an “emergency diversity task force” to plow the landscape for the moldering racism that thrives below. “The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets,” he observed.

Then there’s the hoo-ha over why  ‘Life Itself” didn’t score a Oscar nomination? Well, maybe the documentary about the late Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert just wasn’t good enough. Or maybe the nominators didn’t like what he had to say about their work and were getting even. (The Chicago Tribune did a lengthy analysis speculating about why the doc was snubbed, here.)

To borrow a quote from Hillary Clinton, “what difference at this point does it make?”

When it comes to honoring themselves, journalists run a close second behind Hollywood in this obsessive practice. From the Pulitzers on down, the media are keenly alert to prizes of all sorts. (Here I’ll admit to the same flaw, having gathered a few myself, but ignored by many more.)

This will make me an “outier” (how did this annoying word get to be so fashionable?), but  the perception that Ebert  was a “towering figure among journalists,” does not automatically qualify a documentary about Ebert as Oscar-worthy. Even by the most objective standards.

But objectivity is not really a part of the process–either with the Oscars or the Pulitzers. Politics matters more. Who knifed whom and who’s calling in chits matters more. The advertising and marketing to round up Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to promote the Oscar candidates as they come down to the wire has become a parody.

If you don’t believe politics matters, consider how the Chicago Sun-Times was screwed out of Pulitzer for its breath-taking Mirage investigation. The paper bought a bar, stocked it with reporters Pam Zekman and Zay Smith, opened for business and waited for the corrupt inspectors and other gonifs to show up to get their share. Perhaps one of the most entertaining and revealing investigations investigations in Chicago journalism, it got snubbed by the Pulizers because, it was reported, that it was too much like entrapment.

Then there was the rumor that the Sun-Times was snubbed because of personal animosity between  Ben Bradley, the Washington Post’s editor, and Jim Hoge, the Sun-Times editor. Bradley used the entrapment argument as a cover to deep-six the series. I don’t know if it’s true and it’s all so much inside baseball.

Here I’ll be flogged by some readers with the fact that the Oscars have tremendous public interest and the ceremonies themselves have huge television ratings. Terrific. And maybe MIT professor Jonathan Gruber was right about the intelligence of the American people.

For information on my award-winning historical novel, “Madness: The War of 1812,” visit: http://www.madness1812.com

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