Hollywood: Mission Impossible?
STUDENT POP QUIZ
On June 20, 1927 the International Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka: the group that sponsors the Academy Awards) published its mission statement. The mission statement is published below. Compare the Academy's goals with recent media accounts of this year's Oscars. Has the Academy met its goals? Does Hollywood define harmony differently from the dictionary? Why do organizations publish mission statements? Do you think the Academy's mission statement has had any effect on the behavior of the group's members? Which of the following two statements is true: (a) Hollywood movie studios try to live up to the goals of the Academy; (b) Hollywood movie studios care more about profits than the Academy's mission goals.
MISSION STATEMENT (1927)The Academy will take aggressive action in meeting outside attacks that are unjust.SOURCE Anthony Holden, Behind the Oscar (1993), p. 88.
It will promote harmony and solidarity among the membership and among the different branches.
It will reconcile internal differences that may exist or arise.
It will adopt such ways and means as are proper to further the welfare and protect the honor and good repute of the profession.
It will encourage the improvement and advancement of the arts and sciences of the profession by the interchange of constructive ideas and by awards of merit for distinctive achievements.
It will take steps to develop the greater power and influence of the screen.
In a word, the Academy proposes to do for the motion picture profession in all its branches what other great national and international bodies have done for other arts and sciences and industries.
THE OSCARS (2002)
'A Beautiful Mind' Meets Ugly Oscar Tactics (New York Times, March 16, 2002)LOS ANGELES, March 15 — John Nash says he is not an anti-Semite. He says he is not a homosexual. Nor, he says, did he try to conceal any of his deficiencies as a father or any humiliating episodes in an attempt to glamorize his life.'A Beautiful Mind's' Battles (Newsweek, March 14, 2002)
To combat those rumors, Mr. Nash, a Nobel laureate whose triumph over schizophrenia is chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film"A Beautiful Mind," feels obliged to go on national television: he will appear on Sunday's edition of"60 Minutes." Some in the film industry say he is actually the victim of a whisper campaign whose aim is to scuttle the movie's Oscar hopes, a phenomenon they say has become increasingly common in the intense competition for Academy Awards.
"This may not be the worst year in Oscar history, but it's pretty low," said Pete Hammond, a film historian and consultant for American Movie Classics."To accuse the subject of a film of being anti-Semitic when you know that a lot of the people who will be voting on the Oscars are Jewish, well, that's really down and dirty."
The whisper campaigns, which reach a peak during Oscar balloting, are fueled, the film's supporters say, by the Internet, by a fascination with tabloid-type scandals and by the rise of private Oscar strategists hired by the studios.... Universal’s potent campaign [on behalf of the movie] also has been repeatedly sidetracked by mudslinging, including a public confrontation at the Golden Globe awards, several Internet broadsides and a bizarre hidden message in a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times. The brickbrats grew so common that the studio had to form an Oscar controversy control committee, which met daily. All in all, the boxing match between Tonya Harding and Paula Jones had more civility. “It’s worse than anything I’ve ever seen in an Oscar campaign,” said one Oscar voter.
On a nearly weekly basis, Universal has had to manage one public relations predicament after another. The studio’s greatest challenge has been standing up to criticism that “A Beautiful Mind” sugarcoated the life of schizophrenic mathematician John Forbes Nash, played by Crowe in the film. Sylvia Nasar’s biography revealed that Nash divorced his wife in 1963 (although they lived together after the separation and were recently remarried), fathered a child out of wedlock, and Nasar speculated about Nash’s homosexual relationships. None of that appears in the film. But Universal was ready to explain the divergences from the very start, because it had learned the hard way what happens when you don’t.
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