You may not have watched the Academy Awards last night – we know many conservatives and Donald Trump supporters had said they would not.
Of course, there were many references to the president, including a lengthy joke by host Jimmy Kimmel about Meryl Streep’s “undistinguished and overrated career.” Poor Ben Carson even got a swipe when Kimmel mentioned Dr. Strange had been appointed to lead HUD. Speaking of strange, since the Academy is now so sensitive to #OscarsSoWhite, it was particularly insensitive of Kimmel to refer to Matt Damon’s film “The Wall” as a “Chinese ponytail movie.” That didn’t seem to upset anyone in the audience.
However it was a sequence of about five minutes about halfway into the show that stood out for their terrible irony.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won his second Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for The Salesman — but in an act of protest against President Trump’s executive order temporarily stopping travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, he wasn’t at the ceremony to accept the award.
Instead this statement was read on his behalf by Iranian-American businesswoman Anousheh Ansari:
It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the academy, my crew in Iran, my producer, Amazon, and my fellow nominees.
I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.
But the juxtaposition of what happened next was jaw-dropping.
Seconds later, actor Dev Patel stepped onto the stage to introduce Sting, who would be singing the Oscar-nominated song “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story.” Patel then described the film as the story of James Foley, the journalist and first Westerner beheaded by ISIS. Yes, he mentioned beheading and ISIS.
Were we the only ones who noted the irony? It’s because of monsters like ISIS beheading westerners that we have this temporary order in the first place. But that wasn’t all.
Sting introduced his song by saying “If I don’t have the moral courage to challenge authority … we don’t have journalism.”
And then of course, his performance was immediately followed by the much vaunted commercial for The New York Times with the tagline “The Truth is Hard.” Which is a particularly ironic statement, coming from the New York Times, considering their challenges with reporting the truth.
These folks, just don’t get it.
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]