WTFN Oscar Preview
Lance Boyle “Good evening, and welcome to WTFN’s inaugural Oscar preview show. I’m your host Lance Boyle coming to you from Los Angeles. The ceremony may still be weeks away but there’s a lot to talk about. Joining us in The Cutting Room is veteran movie columnist and critic Miriam Kale.”
(Lance Boyle turns to face Miriam Kale. They are sitting in high-backed upholstered chairs across from each other. A black coffee table is between them and all around are enlarged stills and posters of the nominated movies.) Before we get into the movies themselves, Miriam, what’s your opinion on the Academy’s decision to include 10 best-picture nominees instead of the usual five?

MIRIAM KALE: “In a word—embarrassing. It amounts to handicapping the big Hollywood studios because their movies can’t compete with the best independent and foreign films. In contrast to inventive, entertaining films like last year’s winner Slumdog Millionaire (a British film shot in India), Hollywood churns out an insipid diet of zombies, vampires, cartoonish action, angels, devils, torture, comic books, teen sex farces, sequels, prequels, remakes and bastardizations of TV shows. Recycling may be good for the planet, but in a creative medium like movies, it's an admission of intellectual bankruptcy. All the Academy did was debase the award.”

BOYLE: “Surely, you don’t think all Hollywood films are recycled dross.”

KALE: “No, of course not. Last year’s The Devil Wears Prada from 20th Century Fox was a deserving nominee, especially because of Meryl Streep’s performance as tyrannical magazine editrix Miranda Priestly. My point is that so few award-worthy movies are being made that the odds of one being nominated for, much less winning, the Best Picture Oscar are slim to none. Unfortunately, rather than rely on the studios to improve the quality of their movies, the Academy changed the rules to give the illusion that such movies are worth consideration, which is kind of fitting for an industry based on presenting illusions.”

BOYLE: “What happened to Hollywood?”

KALE: “The same thing that happened to the big U.S. automakers: it fixated on short-term profits, became afraid to take risks, and lost respect for its market. Hollywood studios still think that the average 12-year-old boy is its key demographic. On the other hand, independent and foreign filmmakers are more willing to make intelligent movies that have the grace, wit and sophistication to attract an adult audience. Such thinking does not compute in Hollywood where studios have gone to great lengths to inure filmgoers to such things as grace, wit and sophistication. Let’s face it: where else but in Hollywood could Adam Sandler have a career, or great films like Carrie, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate be remade into inferior knockoffs?”

BOYLE: “The Academy said the doubling of the Best Picture nominees is just an experiment. Do you think it will continue past this year?”

KALE: “Sadly, yes. Once you handicap an industry it’s nearly impossible to get it to stand on its own two feet.”

BOYLE: “Well, we’ll have to wait until 2011 to see if your prediction comes true, but right know I’d like to move on to the Academy’s newest category, one that should be getting more attention than it has so far—The Leni Riefenstahl Award for Excellence in Propaganda. First, Miriam, tell us how this award came about.”

KALE: “Two years ago, the Academy came to the belated realization that holocaust movies and documentaries are getting a disproportionate amount of nominations just because of their subject matter. Moreover, many of these films are thematically repetitious, stereotypical and historically dubious. They don’t so much present historical entertainment as they do historical dogma. As such, they constitute propaganda. Of course, you can criticize any film genre, but since the U.S. movie industry is dominated by a hierarchy of Jews, many of whom support Israel, the Academy felt that holocaust movie genre was compromising the aesthetic and moral integrity of the awards. Therefore, it decided to create a special category for holocaust-themed propaganda—‘The Leni’ for short.”

BOYLE: “Leni Riefenstahl, for those who may not remember, was a great 20th-century German filmmaker, but because she portrayed Hitler and the Nazi Party sympathetically, her movies have become scorned as fascist propaganda.

KALE: “Sad, really, because her films were otherwise excellent, as evidenced by her numerous awards.”

BOYLE: “So Miriam, what’s your pick?”

KALE: “Inglourious Basterds—no contest!”

BOYLE: “I had a feeling you’d say that, but…”

KALE: “Uh, just one thing first, Lance…”

BOYLE: “Sure, go ahead.”

KALE: “The Academy created The Leni precisely to avoid the kind of tasteless spectacle we saw at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. By honouring Inglourious Basterds SAG enphasized the image of Hollywood as a holocaust propaganda factory. To all intents and purposes, SAG seems to be forcing us to respect Inglourious Basterds as a legitimate film, rather than the Grand Guignol schlock it really is. I have had to sit through scores of World War II/holocaust films in my career, and none can compare to this one’s reprehensible dishonesty. Shame on SAG!”

BOYLE: “On the surface, it seems that Inglourious Basterds is a strange choice for The Leni, since one of the award’s defining criteria is to serve Israel by promoting sympathetic or even pathetic images of Jews. It shows Jews committing torture and dehumanizing their enemy with unapologetic, sadistic glee. Does this film not debunk the Jew-as- victim stereotype and therefore undermine its propaganda value?”

KALE: “Excellent observation, Lance, and I share your ambivalence, but the needs of Israeli propaganda have changed. The Jew-as-victim shtick is still important, but Israel can no longer rely on it alone. The Internet has exploded the illusions of Israel as a poor, victimized state and bastion of democratic virtue. Israel has been forced to recognize that it can no longer pretend to be something it’s not and expect to be believed. Inglourious Basterds depicts the changing face of Israeli propaganda.”

BOYLE: “Which is?"

KALE: “A country that commits torture and dehumanizes other human beings with unapologetic, sadistic glee. This is why Inglourious Basterds is so deserving of The Leni. Even though it is yet another unnecessary remake, it normalizes Jewish cruelty to make it easier for the world to accept it in real life. I’d like to show a brief clip from early in the film that makes this point. The leader, Aldo “the Apache,” played by Brad Pitt gives orders to the basterds: (They turn to look at the film screen behind them.)

Aldo: “We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. Every man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps.” (The screen retracts.)

BOYLE: “How does depicting and celebrating Jewish cruelty aid Israeli propaganda?”

KALE: “If we can feel nothing for Germans who are tortured, because we have been brought up to view them as ‘evil,’ then it is easier for us not to feel anything for Arabs who are tortured, because Israel spreads the propaganda that they are ‘evil.’ For propaganda to succeed, it must control and politicize language to make independent thought impossible. Israel cannot expect to get away with an atrocity like Cast Lead if the world persists in viewing Palestinian Arabs as human beings with inalienable human rights. Inglourious Basterds helps Israel do this by making a cruel mockery of human compassion. As it is the Western world has done virtually nothing to punish Israel for its unprovoked slaughter, or demanded that Egypt stop building a wall to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.”

BOYLE: “Let me read to you the following statement from Quentin Tarantino: ‘When you watch all the different Nazi movies, all the TV movies, it’s sad, but isn’t it also frustrating? Did everybody walk into the boxcar? Didn’t somebody do something?’ Isn’t Tarantino trying to show compassion for the Jews who are about to be murdered?”

KALE: “That’s what we’re supposed to think, but in fact Tarantino cares far less about the Yiddish victims of Nazi Germany than he does about slaking the atavistic bloodlust of his zionist producers. Here’s what Lawrence Bender said to Tarantino: ‘As your producing partner, I thank you, and as a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you, motherfucker, because this movie is a fucking Jewish wet dream.’”

BOYLE: “What a horrid, perverse thing to say! How could anyone take pleasure in torture! What did Bob and Harvey Weinstein have to say? After all, it was their production company that made the movie?”

KALE: “They also got off on the Jewish revenge theme. Significantly, though, many Jews were deeply offended by it, and some even walked out of screenings! But this fact should not be seen as a failure on Tarantino’s part; rather it shows how he has evolved—or devolved, if you like—from being a self-indulgent filmmaker into a willing propagandist for Jewish fascism. Then we have to look at a possible motive for the Weinsteins. Their company is such dire financial straits that they need a major hit in the worst way. What better gold mine than a farcical Holocaust story where Jews are shown to be sadistic ‘heroes’ who go medieval on Nazis. This illustrates what I said earlier about holocaust movies getting unfair, automatic recognition. Let’s also not forget that the Weinstein company won the Leni last year for The Reader.”

BOYLE: “Clearly, the example of the Weinstein company shows why The Leni is necessary, but I’d like to pick up on a point you just made: How do you make the leap from Jews fighting Nazis to Jewish fascism?”

KALE: “Remember Aldo’s speech? Tarantino wants us to believe that the holocaust might not have occurred if Jews has been as cruel as the Nazis. First of all, this idea monstrously stupid. You might as well say that unarmed Palestinians deserve their own fate because they aren’t as murderous and cruel as the Israeli military. Second, it is blatantly anti-Semitic, to use a pet phrase of zionist propaganda!”

BOYLE: “You've lost me.”

KALE: “If we take Tarantino’s mission statement at face value, then he declares that Jews, not Nazis, were ultimately responsible for the holocaust. He stands the Jew-as-victim image on its head to give us the Jew as moral coward.”

BOYLE: “But this does undermine Israeli propaganda. The idea that Nazis are uniquely responsible for the holocaust is a fundamental dogma, as is the idea that all Jews were victims of the Nazis. Has Tarantino not given ammunition to those who challenge the official holocaust narrative?”

KALE: “In a general sense, yes, but as Bender said, the film is ‘a Jewish wet dream.’ The orgy of cruelty overrides any such thoughtful consideration of what is actually being depicted. This was a major risk both for the Weinsteins and Tarantino, because if people do stop to analyze Inglourious Basterds, they will see that, in effect, it justifies the holocaust! And by justifying the holocaust, the film reinforces the propaganda that Israel is necessary.”

BOYLE: “Let me see if I get this straight: In the old propaganda, Jews are depicted as victims of the holocaust, and Israeli exploits this image to blackmail the world into silence about its treatment of Palestinians; in the new propaganda, the holocaust is downplayed as a historical event and Jews are reinvented as kosher Nazis?!”

KALE: “Well, not kosher, exactly. The Jews that supported Hitler were anything but!”

BOYLE: “Jews that supported Hitler?”

KALE: “Lance, the great failure of holocaust movies is that they present an absolute moral dichotomy between Nazis and Jews that didn’t exist. A tiny minority of Jews, zionist Jews, actively collaborated with the Nazis because they also wanted to rid Europe of its Jewish population. The only difference was that zionists wanted ‘their people’ to go to Palestine. In exchange for Nazi support, they abetted the suffering of other Jews: they betrayed the Jewish resistance, helped the Nazis sabotage negative press reports, and prevented the vast majority of Jews from fleeing to other lands. The more these non-zionist Jews suffered, the easier it would be for zionists to force the world to agree to a Jewish state after the war. In effect, zionist Jews needed the holocaust, which is why they helped Hitler fill and administer the concentration camps. So, yes, Jews supported Hitler—fascist Jews, that is.

BOYLE: “Still, though, the Basterds are killing Nazis, right? They’re not helping them.”

KALE: “True, but the Nazis are mere props. They don’t matter because we’re supposed to identify with the killers and their motives, not with their victims and their suffering. By making torture look slick and morally defensible, Inglourious Basterds perverts our sense of justice, and that’s how it serves Israeli propaganda. Just replace Nazi soldiers with Arab civilians and the film imitates life. Whether he intended to or not, Tarantino has equated the murderers of Jews with the victims of Jewish murder in such a way that the torture and gleeful sadism in each case are contextually identical.

BOYLE: “It didn’t entirely work, though. As you said, many Jews walked out of the screenings. Even if the producers loved the movie, its propaganda value seems weak.”

KALE: “Ironically, Jewish alienation enhances the film’s propaganda value because it reinforces the new propaganda. Israel knows that its most effective critics are Jews: Richard Goldstone, Richard Falk, Ilan Pappé, Philip Weiss, Akiva Eldar, Norman Finkelstein, just to name just a few. The film is a declaration that the fascist Jew is superior to the moral Jew, and that the moral Jew is an enemy of Israel. If Tarantino and the Weinsteins wanted to make a legitimate film about preventing the nazi persecution of Jews, here is the film they should have made. (As he says this, the movie screen behind them comes down and a movie poster is shown.)

BOYLE: (He looks at the poster and is a little startled.) “I don’t think Hollywood is ready for that.”

KALE: “Of course is isn’t. It would be an indictment of Hollywood’s role as a zionist collaborator as well as a devastating refutation of Israel’s right to exist. Nevertheless, I suspect that Israel’s defenders would find a way to gush over it.”

Basterd reviews

BOYLE: “We’re almost out of time, Miriam. Any last words?”

KALE: “Yes. Appearances to the contrary, Inglourious Basterds is the face of the new propaganda and deserves The Leni. Also, since Avatar will clean up at the Oscars, the Academy could not have picked a more preposterous year to expand the list of nominees.”

BOYLE: “Let’s pick it up there next time. Thanks for coming.”

KALE: “Always a pleasure.”

BOYLE: (To camera) Thanks for joining us. For Miriam Kale and our crew, I’m Lance Boyle. Good night!”