Revolutionary Worker #1194, April 13, 2003, posted at rwor.org
In a year when a huge section of the planet's populace is actively arrayed against the war-making of the U.S. government, you had to hope something wild would happen at the Academy Awards. We were not disappointed. Half a dozen or more actors took their time at the podium to speak against the war or at least to acknowledge that people are suffering because of this war. (One heartfelt remark came from Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal from Y Tu Mama Tambien , who introduced the best song nomination for "Frida": "The necessity for peace in the world is not a dream. It is a reality, and we are not alone. If Frida [Kahlo] were alive, she'd be on our side, against war.") At least 30 people appeared on stage or in the audience wearing dove or peace symbols.
But you'd have to say that the "keynote address" was given by filmmaker Michael Moore, whose breathtaking 55 seconds at the mic gave backbone and context to all the other notes of protest. Moore won best documentary feature for Bowling for Columbine , a radical film whose great popularity has itself given lie to the idea that America is simply the land of fat sheep.
As Moore walked up to the stage to accept the award, the world witnessed the whole hall jump to their feet in appreciative applause.
Moore"s acceptance speech: "Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you." At that point, the orchestra started up, nearly drowning out Moore's final remarks which were: "Any time you've got both the pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, you're not long for the White House."
Watching this on TV was electrifying. Moore described some of the controversy in a March 27 piece in the L.A. Times : "Before I had finished my first sentence about the fictitious president, a couple of men (some reported it was `stagehands' just to the left of me) near a microphone started some loud yelling. Then a group in the upper balcony joined in. What was so confusing to me, as I continued my remarks, was that I could hear this noise but looking out on the main floor, I didn't see a single person booing. But then the majority in the balcony--who were in support of my remarks--started booing the booers. It all turned into one humungous cacophony of yells and cheers and jeers. And all I'm thinking is, `Hey, I put on a tux for this?'
Moore took a lot of heat for declaring the emperor has no clothes and is vicious to boot. But this filmmaker has some very wide shoulders, based--from what I can tell--on a big love for the people and one helluva sense of humor.
Discussing his inspiration for his acceptance speech, Moore wrote: "I found myself [on Oscar day], at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Santa Monica Boulevard, at Mass with my sister and my dad. My problem with the Catholic Mass is that sometimes I find my mind wandering after I hear something the priest says, and I start thinking all these crazy thoughts like how it is wrong to kill people and that you are not allowed to use violence upon another human being unless it is in true self-defense.
"The pope even came right out and said it: This war in Iraq is not a just war and, thus, it is a sin...
"As I walked up to the stage, I was still thinking about the lessons that morning at Mass. About how silence, when you observe wrongs being committed, is the same as committing those wrongs yourself. And so I followed my conscience and my heart."
"On the way back home to Flint, Mich., the day after the Oscars, two flight attendants told me how they had gotten stuck overnight in Flint with no flight--and wound up earning only $30 for the day because they are paid by the hour. They said they were telling me this in the hope that I would tell others. Because they, and the millions like them, have no voice. They don't get to be commentators on cable news like the bevy of retired generals we've been watching all week. (Can we please demand that the U.S. military remove its troops from ABC/CBS/NBC/ CNN/MSNBC/Fox?) They don't get to make movies or talk to a billion people on Oscar night. They are the American majority who are being asked to send their sons and daughters over to Iraq to possibly die so Bush's buddies can have the oil.
"Who will speak for them if I don't? That's what I do, or try to do, every day of my life, and March 23, 2003-- though it was one of the greatest days of my life and an honor I will long cherish--was no different."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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