JACK ENGELHARD:Oscar ban aimed at Zero Dark Thirty angers Sony’s Amy Pascal


WASHINGTON, DC, January 14, 2013 — Kudos to Sony Pictures’ Amy Pascal for snapping right back at Ed Asner and Martin Sheen for suggesting an Oscar ban against those involved in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”

“To punish an artist’s right of expression is abhorrent.”

Yes, abhorrent! This brings to mind John F. Kennedy’s brilliant reminder of our First Amendment:

“Democratic society, in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist, is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may.”

By virtue of Asner, Sheen and others like them, the chips have already fallen upon Kathryn Bigelow, director, and Mark Boal, screenwriter, for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

We saw this coming right here on these pages.

As noted and as reaffirmed, out First Amendment now comes with an asterisk.

Sheen acted as (West Wing left-wing) President of the United States on TV, and Asner portrayed the boss of a TV newsroom. It’s a good guess that they would be politically selective, and that they feel duty-bound to tell the Academy and the rest of us what’s in and what’s out.

Asner and Sheen want to stop any attempt to honor “Zero Dark Thirty” with an Oscar, even as the film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Bigelow was snubbed for Best Director precisely because her movie portrays torture as being successful in tracing Osama bin Laden.

In last night’s Golden Globes (which made sure to rehabilitate Mel Gibson), Jessica Chastain won for Best Actress, but that was it for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Pascal goes on to say what Bigelow herself keeps saying, “The film portrays torture but does not advocate torture.”

Asner and Sheen, soon to be followed by the rest of the Left – can Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand be far behind? – have proposed a ban for your consideration: “We hope that ‘Zero’ will not be honored by Academy members.” Osama bin Laden could not have said it better himself.

What’s more, in news that is certain to cheer Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad, Asner, Sheen and another actor named David Clennon have already got themselves a protest going against the movie so that “you too can join” a jaw-breaker called the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, an organization apparently devoted to ban free speech.

Strange tidings, this, that people blessed with their own unalienable rights should wish to deny them to others.

Kennedy, at Amherst, went on to say, “In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves the nation.”

Sorry about the politically incorrect pronouns, but on Bigelow I have already stated that Hollywood needs more men like her…and more men like Pascal.

My guess is that this is precisely what Bigelow had in mind, to offer us her vision of the truth, and it is my assumption that the Hollywood Left was bothered not so much by scenes of torture as by the fact that the bad guys were 100 percent terrorist Muslims. This is no knock on Muslims, only on the terrorists in their midst.

Asner (for real) was once president of the Screen Actors Guild, whose members proudly presented us with “Meet the Fockers.” In this flick, Hollywood had no fears naming a dog Moses. This dog, Moses, was flushed down a toilet, a scene meant to be hilarious without much concern or respect for Jewish sensibilities. (Let’s remember that Moses, the Hebrew, is revered and sainted by Christians and Muslims as well.)

Christian sensibilities were likewise ignored when Hollywood gave us Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

Is this, then, the rule? Movies that insult Christians and Jews are fair game and protected under our Constitution.

Imagine Hollywood’s righteous indignation if anyone were to suggest that such movies should be banned from theaters or for Oscar consideration.

Obviously when the wrong ox is being gored we go from freedom of expression to freedom of suppression.


Jack Engelhard is a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, bring his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe.


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