The Envelope Please…

The list of nominated documentaries for this year’s Academy Awards is out and, like most news events these days, it is certain to produce reactions from all quarters. Hollywood is a frequent victim of attacks from right wing cultural imperialists, and lefties get their knocks in as well. But Academy voters are rarely mistaken for bleeding edge trend-setters, so anyone attempting to color them as clandestine Bolsheviks need to get their prescriptions refilled.

Ultimately, artists must be free to express themselves and, when they do, they naturally mirror the world around them. That is the most likely explanation for the make-up of this year’s nominees. Let’s take a look…

An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim
Al Gore’s supercharged Powerpoint presentation examining the foreboding effects of climate change on the planet and the need for a more urgent public response to it.

Deliver Us From Evil, Amy Berg and Frank Donner
A story of child-molestation and pedophilia among Catholic priests and the Church’s high-level attempts to suppress it.

Jesus Camp, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
At a summer camp for Evangelical Christians, children undergo a different sort of abuse as they are taught to speak in tongues and pray for the appointment of pro-life Supreme Court justices.

Iraq In Fragments, James Longley and John Sinno
Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds in Iraq are profiled in this examination of the divisive forces that are tearing the country apart.

My Country, My Country, Laura Poitras and Jocelyn Glatzer
A Sunni doctor in Iraq runs for office as the U.S. government works behind the scenes to bring off the election.

In my estimation, we have here a surprisingly strong slate of socially relevant work by responsible and creative filmmakers. In this respect the Academy’s choices reflect the mood and concerns of the community of filmgoers and the public in general. But the Culture Warriors and Dittoheads will surely see this as proof that the Academy is stacked with secular-progressive terrorist sympathizers who fear that the sky is falling.

When the attacks start flying about the unseemly influence of Hollywood lefties, I hope everyone will remember that the only creatures of Hollywood that have ever actually held the levers of political power have been conservative Republicans like Reagan, Murphy, Thompson, Grandy, Bono, and Schwarzenegger. And I don’t hear any of the righteous wingers complaining about that.