erik lundegaard

Wednesday March 05, 2014

In Talking Oscars, Breitbart's Big Hollywood Makes Fox News Seem Fair and Balanced

Michelle Obama at 2013 Oscars

Big Hollywood attributes the Oscar ratings boost to the lack of politics at the event during the Obama years. (Above: First Lady Michelle Obama announces the best picture winner, for “Argo,” in 2013.)

How bad is Breitbart's Big Hollywood site? It makes Fox News look fair and balanced in comparison.

Big Hollywood recently posted an article on the bounce-back ratings for the Academy Awards Sunday night (43 million vs. 32 million in 2008) and attributes it solely to the lack of “boorish, smug, divisive political behavior” from the Hollywood elites during the Obama years. No Michael Moore speeches, no anti-Iraq war speeches, etc. So viewers are tuning in again. “Who would have ever guessed?” John Nolte asks smugly, if not to say divisively, at the end.

The problem? 2008 was also the last year there were five best picture nominees—nominees, by the way, that had long stopped being among the top box-office hits of the year. (See this chart.) That was the whole point of expanding the nominee pool: to get bigger box-office hits among the mix, and thus, hopefully, goose the TV ratings. Do politics, or apolitics, have something to do with the recent ratings boost? Who knows? But for Nolte not to mention the expansion of best picture nominees verges on duplicitous.

The Fox News site, on the other hand, while it gives us a boorish, divisive headline about another Oscar matter (Academy, Hollywood's failure to recognize 'Lone Survivor' a travesty”), attempts some fair and balanced reporting from James Jay Carafano.

His piece is about how “Lone Survivor,” the Mark Wahlberg/Afghanistan/anti-My Lai picture, garnered no nominations despite some critical and box-office acclaim. Certain right-wing pundits (Sean Hannity) have used this as an example, according to Carafano, of “how liberal Hollywood really hates the military.” Carafano isn't convinced. He brings up “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker,” and echoes the shrug of The National Review's Jonah Goldberg over the controversy.

True, Carafano writes, in over-the-top fashion:

In the annals of American war films, the technical accuracy and realism of this film is unprecedented. In this regard, it is truly a historic cinematic achievement. For Hollywood, not to salute that is a travesty.

But he adds:

That said, it’s simply unfair to label Tinsel Town as a bunch of pathetic pacifists.

(Of course, that's almost like push-journalisim, isn't it? The way that push-polling is about disseminating false facts rather than extracting true information, this could be the same from the journalism side: pretending to be vaguely objective while pushing propaganda points.)

Carafano also gets his numbers wrong.

In the first graf, he compares “Survivor” to “Waterworld,” the 1995 Kevin Costner flick that actually garnered an Oscar nomination (sound editing) even though “Lone Survivor” has none, and even though the Wahlberg flick “also crushed it in ticket sales.”

First, you can create the world's greatest film festival from the movies that never received an Oscar nomination—from 1957 alone: “A Face in the Crowd,” “Paths of Glory” and “Sweet Smell of Success”—so I'd leave that one alone. Second, the numbers are fudged. Yes, “Survivor”'s domestic box office is bigger than “Waterworld” ($123.5 million to $88 million), but when you adjust for inflation “Survivor” is the same while “Waterworld” is on top with $169 million. And that doesn't even take into account international box office, where “Waterworld” grossed $175 million in 1995 (unadjusted) and “Survivor” grossed exactly zero dollars this past year, because it hasn't been released overseas. Will it ever? Who knows? Maybe Universal feels it won't play in Europe. Or Asia. Or anywhere but here. There's a story there.

In the end, the handwringing over “Lone Survivor”'s zero noms is overdone. It's an OK movie but hardly great. For all of these reasons.

Lone Survivor

“Wait, we didn't make as much as 'Waterworld'?”

Posted at 08:19 AM on Wednesday March 05, 2014 in category What Liberal Hollywood?  
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