Elia Kazan and ultra-purism

Marta Russell ap888 at lafn.org
Mon Mar 22 11:37:24 PST 1999

I just cannot understand Warren Beatty - who has had the respect of Hollywood lefties - supporting the Kazan award. He said that the Academy was only honoring the films of Kazan, not his life, so Beatty did not agree with the protesters, but that certainly rings hollow. Beatty knew that he never would have gotten Bulworth made if it had not been for some paybacks he was owed by Fox for making other films(??think it was Fox). Why doesn't he connect the INSTITUTION of the Academy with the elements in Hollywood which undid controversail content in Hollywood films? HUAC is in part responsible for the awful mess that passes as entertainment today. McCarthyism watered down the content of films in the 50s to the level of Doris Day chit chat movies, etc and had a negative effect to this DAY. Not many will tackle controversial subject matter. Most movies are lousy rollercoaster ride adrenaline rush slop that avoids content like the plague.

Marta Russell

Gar Lipow wrote:

> One recent post seemed to me to show absolute contempt for those who
> oppose giving the award for lifetime achievment to Elia Kazan. The
> grounds on which this was considered laughable was the history of the
> Academy -- the fact the Academy was orginally was formed to provide a
> purpose for company union.
> Many institutions in our society are formed with some oppressive
> purpose in mind. Those that are not usually get used for such purpose.
> None of this makes oppression the *only* purpose such institutions
> serve, nor changes the fact that it is worthwhile to support fights
> against the loss of fundamental democratic liberties which takes place
> within them.
> Now if Kazan was being given an award for purely technical
> achievements, people would pretty much shudder and ignore it. There is
> not much question he is a talented director, a talented writer, a
> skilled film-maker. But as a film maker who already won two academy
> awards he is being given a lifetime achievment award -- one which
> honors the man as well as the work. Even if all that was happening was
> personally honoring a slimeball who played a key part in creating the
> blacklist, this would be worth protesting.
> But that is not all that is going on. Read George Will's column today.
> I am not going to follow the usual LBO practice of quoting large
> essays in full. I need only quote one paragraph to make my point:
> >"At the core of this controversy is the matter of intellectual responsibility. Is it invariably unjust when people pay a price for political advocacy? Should there be a penalty for protracted sympathy for obvious tyranny"
> I don't want to focus on the fact the virturally every word in the
> above paragraph is a lie, or deception of some kind including "the"
> and "is". Will fails to mention that "price" he was talking about
> usually included poverty at the minimum, jail quite often, and usually
> basic rights such as the right to free travel -- and that (if the
> tyranny he mentions was Stalinism) quite a number of people in the
> blacklist opposed Stalin -- not that supporting Stalin was any excuse
> for being driven into poverty, jailed, or denied the right to travel.
> This sort of thing is pretty standard Will. The key thing to read in
> that paragraph is that the right wing is dropping a trial balloon.
> They think that the time may have come for the blacklist to begin
> again.
> Pure paranoia? Well in one sense it is. There is no way the blacklist
> could be started if any reasonable number of people stand up against
> -- which is why getting some sort of showing is need. You don't need
> the whole academy to stand silent. (It would be wonderful, but not
> damn likely.)
> But if enough people sit in their chairs during the standing ovation
> so that the camera cannot miss them -- that will help to nip this
> thing in the bud.
> On the other hand if enough cowardice on the part of Hollywood really
> might start the damn thing again. One small piece of evidence is that
> the "Committee against Silence" which is leading the protest against
> Kazan and has taken an ad against him in Daily Variety has run into an
> interesting phenomena. Apparently a lot of Hollywood big shots have
> donated money to help pay for the Ad -- but don't want their names
> included. The usual phrase is that the donor is "in the middle of
> trying to negotiate a deal" ...
> The blacklist did not start in McCarthy era (which I always insist
> should be called the Truman/McCarthy era). And, there is a part of
> the blacklist that never really ended. Union activists know damn well
> that they can be fired any time the union is too weak or too corrupt
> to protect them. But a major escalation to point where a blacklist can
> be admitted and practiced openly would be a real setback. I don't know
> that odds of this happening are great. I know damn well that they are
> not zero. The effort to stomp on this weed while it is still a
> delicate young bud is worth supporting.

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