WTFN–Oscar Preview 2012

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(THE SCENE: WTFN’s annual Oscar show. Host Lance Boyle and critic Miriam Kale are in their usual high-backed upholstered chairs amid the predictable movie posters and Oscar bric-a-brac.
The floor director comes up to the stage: “…and we’re on in 5…4…3…2…" backs away pointing to Boyle. Theme music starts up.)

LANCE BOYLE: (to camera) “Welcome to WTFN’s Oscar Show, the annual event when Hollywood pats itself on the back, and critics kick it in the butt. Joining me in our West Coast studios for this special edition of “The Cutting Room,” is WTFN’s resident movie maven Miriam Kale.” (turns to face her and the camera pulls back into a two-shot)

MIRIAM KALE: Hi Lance! Got my boots on.”

BOYLE: “Well, let’s get at it, and let’s start with one of your predictions that came true–”the list of Best Picture nominees still stands at 10.”

KALE: “Curse my accuracy! I could understand this increase if there were a surfeit of great movies, as there was in 1939, but today, when schlock is Paramount and also a Universal blight, a film now merely has to be good or even average to get a nomination. Eventually, though, the one, two or three creditable movies will garner the most votes and then we’re back focusing on the best five. All this fatuous padding does is expose Hollywood’s pathetic need to inflate its own image because it can’t compete with foreign films.”

BOYLE: (laughs) “Well, how about starting on a less pessimistic note. Usually we end the show with your pick for The Leni, so this time let’s begin with it.”

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KALE: “Great idea! First, for those who don’t know, The Leni Riefenstahl Award is a new Oscar category for Holocaust® propaganda films. This year there a few worthy nominees, but my pick goes to The Debt, an espionage thriller about retired Mossad agents and the (supposedly) botched kidnapping/assassination of a Nazi war criminal.”

BOYLE: “Good choice, but before we get to your analysis, let’s look at two films I had on my list that you didn’t pick: first, Footnote, the serio-comic Israeli film about duelling Talmudic scholars.”

KALE: “I considered it, but decided the subject matter to be too esoteric. Admittedly, the Talmud has numerous passages that are cited to justify Jewish exceptionalism and the violent mistreatment of non-Jews, and this is clearly relevant to what we see today in Occupied Palestine and throughout the Middle East. However, The Leni is not a religious award. Moreover, since all organized religion is fundamentally irrational and can be exploited by militant lunatics to justify atrocities in the name of “god’s will,” nominating Footnote risked conflating Jews with Zionists, and that would itself have been an act of Holocaust® propaganda!”

BOYLE: “Very logical! I hadn’t thought of that. OK, what about In Darkness, the Agnieszka Holland-directed story of Catholic Poles hiding Jews in the sewers of Lviv to keep them safe from Nazis?”

KALE: “I debated a long time over this. The film clearly meets the Leni criteria of promoting the Jew-as-victim stereotype that drives the Israel-has-a-right-to-exist mantra. It also perpetuates our habit of compartmentalizing fascism to the Nazi era. As much as German fascists persecuted Jews, Jewish fascists are today persecuting Arabs. Gaza is recognized as the world’s largest ghetto, and the Israeli press is very open about the extreme brutality, even bestiality, of Israeli settlers and soldiers toward Palestinians. The more we regurgitate World War II stereotypes the more easily we give ourselves permission to gloss over this reality.”

BOYLE: “So, why didn’t you select it?”

KALE: “Essentially, because it is based on a true story, and as such has a defensible historical component. It also shows Catholics being compassionate towards Jews, and this counters the argument that Polish Catholics were anti-Jewish. It, therefore, has some value.”

BOYLE: “Now, tell us about The Debt and why you picked it to win The Leni.”

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