Dept. of Meaningless Gestures

A couple of years ago, the Dixie Chicks took home a boat-load of Grammy Awards for their album "Taking the Long Way." Now, I love the Dixie Chicks, and lots of their songs are on my iPod exercise playlist (which I load with tunes I enjoy enough to distract me from the fact that at some point in my life I turned into the sort of person who runs for pleasure, an idea I had long considered anathema). I also think their treatment at the hands of the conservative shrieking class is instructive, given the relative innocuousness of their comment about George W. as compared to a lot of the invective being hurled at President Obama. (Someone let me know if there have been massive protests against John Voigt, complete with burning DVDs and death threats.) However, nobody but the very most credulous viewer could interpret their sweep of the Grammys as anything other than a political act by liberal music industry types. As a testament to the quality of their album qua musical production, it was pretty meaningless.

It was in a similar vein that Al Gore (and, similarly, Melissa Etheridge) took home Oscars for "An Inconvenient Truth" the same year. Appearing on stage with Leonardo DiCaprio, his win was so foregone I'm amazed any of the other nominees bothered to stay in their seats when it was announced (assuming there was an open bar somewhere they could have been hitting instead). Now, I'll admit I haven't actually seen "An Inconvenient Truth," but if I'm right it's essentially nothing but Al Gore and his PowerPoint presentation about global warming. If you don't endorse his worldview, it's very hard to justify that being the best documentary on offer that year. (Speaking as a recovering fundamentalist Christian, I thought "Jesus Camp" was a much more illuminating film. For those of you who were rooting for it to win, perhaps I can interest you in a bridge for sale in Brooklyn?)

Now, I was neither surprised nor bothered by this win. Hollywood is not exactly bashful about its politics, nor does it shy away from rewarding mediocrity when it feels inclined to congratulate itself for said politics. (See also, the worst Best Picture winner ever.) Despite my skepticism regarding the subject matter, what's the point in being annoyed? Again, only the most naive viewer could miss the political nature of the win, reflecting the well-known biases of the people who did the voting.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I see (via the Atlantic's politics page) that a couple of conservative Academy members are grousing about Gore's win over at Pajamas Media. They think it should be rescinded. And I think they are being ridiculous.

This is an Oscar, for crying out loud. (Admittedly, as Academy members they presumably take it more seriously than a mere awards show fan like me.) It doesn't mean that "An Inconvenient Truth" is right, merely that a bunch of people in Hollywood think it is. This conclusion should have been obvious at the time, and nobody honestly thinks Tinseltown has suddenly gotten either more skeptical or less liberal with the advent of "Climategate."

After all, it's not like we're talking about an award with any real meaning, right?

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