The Great Disney Monopoly:
Does Walt have Oscar wrapped around his little finger?
Written by: Alex Sandell
"Spielberg was right," I thought to myself, "the Academy members are bought-off." It didn't really hit me until The Cider House Rules, a movie which failed at the box-office and was panned by about half of America's critics, was nominated Tuesday morning for seven Academy Awards, including best picture. After last year's upset, when Shakespeare in Love took home the award for best picture, beating out Saving Private Ryan, which had, moments earlier, won best director, Steven Spielberg ranted and raved to anyone willing to listen about how studios, in particular Miramax (owned by Walt Disney), bought off voters with gratuitous gifts, promising promises and various other bribes. At the time, I thought Spielberg was just being a poor sport. He lost the award, fair and square, I figured. After this year's Cider House incident, I am not so sure anything the Academy does is "fair and square," and I think Walt Disney is a big part of it. Here's why:
Best Picture Nominations (and Lack Thereof):
The Insider was produced by Touchstone Pictures, a production company owned by none other than Walt Disney. The Sixth Sense was produced by Hollywood Pictures, a division of Walt Disney. As I have already stated, The Cider House Rules was produced by Miramax Films, another extension of the Disney empire. That makes 3 out of 5 of the films up for best picture Disney movies. Sure, you could argue that Walt Disney basically owns the entire world (so that's what they meant by "Walt Disney World"), and that they will inevitably get more nominations, being that they released more films to be nominated, but your argument wouldn't hold water when you think about the movies that aren't up for best picture.
How could The Cider House Rules, a Disney movie disliked by the critics and ignored by the public, be nominated, when NON-Disney films, which were all critically acclaimed, such as Being John Malkovich, The Iron Giant, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, Go, The Fight Club, Boys Don't Cry, Election, The Limey, October Sky, Tumbleweeds, The Blair Witch Project and Three Kings were all but disregarded? A few of these films were thrown consolation nominations (best actress in a supporting role, etc.), most likely meant to throw us off the scent of a Walt Disney scandal, but the Academy's bad attempt at hiding what seems to be a bias toward Disney doesn't help any of us understand why great films (okay, maybe The Blair Witch Project isn't so great) like the ones listed above were shunned by Academy members while mediocre crap like The Cider House Rules was fawned over.
Reese Witherspoon . . . Have You Seen This Child?:
In nearly every article I've read, or commentary that I've heard since the awards were announced, Reese Witherspoon's odd omission from the best actress category is mentioned. Her performance as an ass-kissing, over-achieving teenager was brilliant, and more than worthy of the best actress award (at least a damn nomination). Yet, her movie, Election, was produced by Paramount, and not by the gift-giving Disney.
Jim Carrey Isn't the Only One Talking out of His Ass:
By ignoring Jim Carrey's performance in Man on the Moon, the Academy ignored what is hands down the most critically acclaimed performance of the year. How could the best performance of 1999 be overlooked? Six words: Man on the Moon wasn't Disney.
Where Oscar Airs His Dirty Laundry:
It should be no surprise that the Academy Awards will be airing on ABC TV; a network owned by Walt Disney. The official Academy Awards' website is a member of the "GO" network, a group of websites which are the property of Walt Disney. When you go to the abc.com site, the first thing you read, in reference to the Academy Awards, is, "you'll have to click here to see what movies you need to see quickly!" Being that most of those movies you "need to see" are Disney, this is self-promotion at its worst (or best, if you're a stockholder). Not only is Walt Disney's ABC website advertising the Academy Awards, which they are airing, they are advertising the Academy Awards' website, which in turn advertises Disney's "GO" network and a bunch of Disney movies, all of which will undoubtedly be re-released and advertised incessantly on Disney's ABC TV. Disney is probably kicking themselves over missing out on the film Go. Imagine the advertising potential; "get Go at 'Go'." Doh!
In the End:
Some folks will call all of this "Capitalism," and leave it at that. I think of it as a virtual monopoly; one which shows all that's wrong with big-business in America. It's sick how these gigantic corporations keep buying up all the small companies, while merging with other gigantic corporations, until we get all of our news, television and entertainment from the same fucking place: a fantasy world with talking mice and a mutated dog people call "Goofy."
Maybe next year Warner Bros. will have a chance at edging out Disney, now that it's merged with AOL, and, hanging its head in defeat, Disney will be forced to merge with Warner Bros. to form the Time-Disney-Warner-AOL-Touchstone-New Line Cinema-Miramax-GO-Hollywood-CNN-ABC conglomerate. Only in America . . . regrettably.
Other Academy Awards related junk:
Why the 69th Annual Academy Awards Sucked
Why the 70th Annual Academy Awards Were a Great Sedative
Why the 71st Annual Academy Awards Were Longer than World War II Itself
*Note to readers* I have been sick as a dog (103 degree fever, sore-throat, ear-infection, sinus-infection, etc.) for the past 10 days, and haven't been able to do many updates, and haven't responded to any emails. If you haven't gotten an email from me, that is most likely the reason why. The OTHER reason could be because a lot of you are still emailing me at addresses the MAPS group deprived me of. If you actually want me to GET the email you send, you have to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. No other address will work. Now that you know I don't hate you, could you please take the gun out of your mouth and go on with your life? Thanks.
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©2000 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll breathe on you and give you the almighty Super-Flu.
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