At least since 1973, when Marlon Brando declined his Oscar — he couldn't remember which picture it was supposed to be for — and sent up Sacheen Littlefeather to pitch the case for Indian rights instead, the giving of Oscars has been as iconic as medieval architecture, attempting with barely hidden symbolism to territorialize the political culture. Hollywood has changed and possibly invented America. Especially California. It has been said, by Fox Mulder, in an episode of “The X Files,” that this was the way of the "military, industrial, entertainment complex." Several cultural shifts can be intuited from last nights’ awards: The Clinton age is over, and President Obama will bomb Iran.
Possibly nothing has had such a direct effect on American public policy as Ang Lee's “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, which brought gay rights, gay marriage and gay consciousness to the front agenda in Washington, D.C., and every state in America. Perhaps the season has passed. Lee’s “Life of Pi” is a purely, classically Eastern vision, more to the holistic lines of “Eat Drink Man Woman” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” It is safe to say that Lee speaks here — like George Lucas and Obi-Wan Kenobi — from the East. Steven Spielberg, on the other hand, overlooked this year by the Academy — conspicuously ignored, say critics — has long been a prop for Clinton-era liberal politics.
Like Spielberg, his generation’s icons and images have been displaced (“conspicuously ignored” — how they kill you in Hollywood). The Obamas were first and are still a hedge against the generational culture of 45 million war babies; the Clinton-era generational culture. Obama blocked them in 2008; Obama’s ally, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who, unlike Hillary, knows how to bake a cake — will block them finally in 2016.
The Clinton/Jagger generation submerged for a decade and a half at a very specific moment in 1979, when the Grand Ayatollah of Iran took American hostages. Liberal America was torn on what to do; appease the Ayatollah and meet his demands, or resist. Sentiment shifted overnight, and America brought a challenge. Ben Affleck's “Argo” awakens and celebrates that singular moment of valor. That the first lady appeared to offer him his reward indicates the Obama administration's alliance with that sensibility. The administration will act — surprising the pacifists and nihilists of the Clinton State department — in strength to remove the threat from Iran, refurbishing the credentials of American liberals, perceived today as weaklings. But it will be a one-time act for internal political consumption only. Will they become a better friend to Israel? Not likely. Not California, anyway. It has “turned east.”
Americans may be seen in this to be easily swayed. Movies, Aldous Huxley suggested in 1927, were the great imperial tool of the rising American way; a game-show democracy would result; a horde whose sensibilities could be orchestrated by movies, music and pop culture, instead of canton-based or states-based republican organizations. New York has created its own visionary Athens, now dominating a Roman horde.
We are controlled by these gods, and it all happened so quickly.