A bitter irony for America Sunday night at, of all places, the Academy Awards, where the movie industry recognized the diversity that struggles to exist elsewhere in the land of the free.
On the public stage in Hollywood, the entertainment industry confronted its own mistreatment of women and stood pretty much alone against the isolationist and nationalist tone of the serial abuser of women, people and nations who occupies the White House.
For the fourth time in five years, a Mexican filmmaker won best director honors.
“I think that the greatest thing our art does, and our industry does, is erase the line in the sand,” declared Guillermo del Toro, winning director of The Shape of Water, a Cold War fantasy about a mute woman who falls in love with a humanoid sea creative and teaches us a lot about acceptance, tolerance and love.
“We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore,” said host Jimmy Kimmel. “The word is watching us. We need to set an example.” It says a lot of today’s America when a late-night comedian has to explain what needs to be done to restore what this nation once was.
Yet it was the entertainment industry that said “enough is enough” to the harassment of women by producer Harvey Weinstein, booting him from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The movement that started from that ended the careers of Kevin Spacey and others who felt that preying on others signaled success in life and art.
The Academy still recognized quality, tapping Gary Oldman as best actor for his riveting performance of Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour” and Frances McDormand as best actress as a revenge-seeking mother in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
“Okay, look around everybody, look around ladies and gentlemen,” McDormand told a cheering audience. “We all have stories to tell.”
Ashley Judd, one of the three women whose stories of abuse helped bring down Weinstein, took the stage with two other victims: Salma Hayek Pinault and Annabella Sciorra, and said:
The changes we are witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices, joining together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying, “Time’s up.”
The politicians in Washington may sit on their hands and do nothing about the America they are trying to destroy but the message from Hollywood is clear:
“We don’t make movies like ‘Call Me by Your Name’ for money,” said Kimmel, referring to the same-sex coming-of-age romance between a teen and a young man in 1980s Italy. “We make them to upset Mike Pence.”
Hooray for Hollywood.