The AMPAS was already embarrassed enough by the music branch’s lingering cronyism manifesting itself vis-à-vis the out-of-nowhere nomination for the theme song from Alone Yet Not Alone, a movie that somehow achieved eligibility despite playing almost exclusively in heartland venues appointed with pews. The Academy had every right to be mortified by whatever shenanigans allowed into the conversation what is, by all rational reports, an artless, self-righteous, racist remake of The Searchers told from the point of view of John Wayne’s trigger finger. But now that the Board of Governors has rescinded the nomination in an act of reverse-revisionism that forms an apt symmetry with the film itself, the egg on Oscar’s collective face is now also clearly visible in the sights of all those who have set their browsers’ homepages to the Drudge Report. Well, them and composer Bruce Broughton’s wife, who has taken to her almighty Facebook status bar to protest the mistreatment her husband was being forced to endure for allegedly abusing his position among his branch’s executive committee to engage in a little email blast electioneering. So sniped Belinda Broughton, in two separate posts:
“I cannot believe that the Academy just did that to Bruce. Bruce has given hours and hours of his time to the Academy over a period of 30 years, has tirelessly fought for composers, is the only top composer I know who will generously lend out his scores to composers, spends hours having lunches giving advice to up and coming film composers. These poor huge production companies who had their noses put out of joint by a little song. All I can say is, they must have been terrified by the song and it’s one damn good song too. Well, they are happy now, they can play together in the same sand box again. Shame on you Motion Picture Academy for taking the low road, saving your own butts and doing this to one of your former Governors and Head of the Music Branch. Maybe a phone call to Bruce, from one of the Academy Governors of the Music Branch would have been nice too? (Angry wife!)”
“Speaking as Bruce’s wife, the most hurtful and damaging thing about all this is the huge, public defamation of Bruce’s character by those who have brought this on. Forget the Oscar nomination, but do these people understand the emotional damage it causes, those who should know better than to bring someone down in order to cave in to the pressure of big money?”
It’s a classic case of two wrongs inciting the Right, from a branch that lately can’t seem to make up its mind whether to nominate too many songs or too few. There are only two notable benefits to be pulled from this beatific brouhaha. One is the delicious irony that the song clearly primed to walk away with the prize is a scarcely concealed coming-out anthem accompanied by flagrant on-screen witchcraft. The other is that everyone’s focus on the category’s disqualified Jesus is pulling the spotlight away from the slate’s under-qualified one: Bono, whose similarly lazy and earnest “Ordinary Love” won the Golden Globe and whose observably miffed body language undoubtedly cost him Diddy’s vote.
Over the weekend, the Academy issued a statement explaining their position and leaving little hope for those who aim to restore the nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone” (though already the snub arguably won the battle for a movie that, left to its own devices, would’ve been left behind, not the next Left Behind). Despite Broughton’s attempts to paint himself as the disenfranchised David against Goliaths like, um, Karen O, the AMPAS statement implies one cannot presume that role and simultaneously exploit their position of power. Nevertheless, there appears to be a grassroots effort underfoot from those trained to sniff out secular persecution like Margaret White warned boys would for Carrie’s menstrual blood. If indeed their efforts somehow succeed, we may well have to revise our own prediction in this category, because this evangelical furor seems to have momentarily topped off the tank for a demographic who have never been afraid to claim they’re the oppressed minority and demand special treatment…or to stuff a ballot box.
Will Win: “Let It Go,” Frozen
Could Win: “Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Should Win: “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored/He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword,” Jesus