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Why This Year’s Oscar Nominations Confirm Film Is Now a Culturally Dead Medium

With 10 more fascinating stories from around the web.

Dave Swindle


January 17, 2014 - 8:00 am


This is Week 2, day 4 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at

The Oscar nominations were announced yesterday. Here’s the full list at the Hollywood Reporter. Best picture nominees:

American Hustle - Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
Captain Phillips - Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
Dallas Buyers Club - Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman, Producers
Her - Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
Nebraska - Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
Philomena - Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
12 Years a Slave - Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
The Wolf of Wall Street - Nominees to be determined

A few years back the Academy decided to expand the number of films they’d nominate for best picture, thus diluting the significance of the award. It used to be that only five films would be nominated and it could be a genuinely close race. In 2008 it was Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (The best of the them won, IMHO.) Then in 2009 it ballooned to ten, offering an assortment ranging from Avatar to Up to Precious and Inglourious Basterds.

It seems weird to compare a blue aliens action flick to a Pixar family comedy to a ghetto sentimentality to a high-brow grindhouse bloodbath. But I guess that’s just the nature of our postmodern film age. (Of the films nominated, fanatical Disney partisan I am, Up would’ve earned my vote.)

This year’s list is similarly all over the map and I haven’t seen any of them, though I imagine The Wife and I will catch some of when they start making their way to Netflix streaming. With her finishing up graduate school we tend to only make it to the theaters to see something that’s really big and mind-blowing. The Hobbit films in IMAX 3-D are well worth whichever arm or leg you’ll need to barter for a ticket.

But for a comedy or a drama, why bother going out to the theaters? The effect of seeing it on a decent-sized screen at home isn’t much different. And why bother trying to see all the best picture nominees before the show so you can talk about it when they’ve inflated the category to ten? That’s a lot of work!

Film is now a culturally dead medium. It’s akin to painting, ballet, classical music, drama, and the literary novel. Other, newer technologies have spawned mediums with greater power and influence amongst the masses while high-thinking elitists talk mostly to themselves about how their art is saving the world.

But kudos to Oscar for the delicious snub of Oprah Winfrey’s hateful The Butler, a disinformation project designed to make people believe America and conservatives are racist. The one good thing about having 10 best picture spots to fill? Intentionally only pick to fill nine of them and the message to the one snubbed is loud and clear. Are we done with the Oscar-bait genre yet?

Maybe now that “film” is dead individual movies can start to live more. Here’s the best picture nominee I’m going to make a point to see:

Here are 10 Interesting Stories From Around the Web on Thursday

1. Michael Ledeen here at PJM: Exclusive: The Voice of Iranian Dissent

I’ve received what follows from Iran, via Banafsheh Zand, who has written at PJ Media on several occasions.  As you will see, it’s an open letter from one of the bravest men of our time, Heshmat Tabarzadi, a fighter for the freedom of the Iranian people who has repeatedly put his life on the line in that worthy cause.  Heshmat was one of the central figures in the Iranian student movement, and then joined the Green Movement that was cheated out of its electoral victory in 2009.  Along with other Green leaders, Heshmat was subsequently arrested, convicted by a “Revolutionary Tribunal,” and locked away.

As he writes, he was recently paroled halfway through his 8-year sentence.  I rather suspect that the regime hoped he would take the opportunity to flee the country, but he won’t do that.  Like the Green leaders Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi, Heshmat is one of the most respected figures in contemporary Iran, and, so far at least, the regime prefers to keep them locked away rather than killing them, probably hoping they will die in prison.

Today, January 15th, they arrested him again and he is incarcerated.  It behooves any one who really cares about human rights to keep his name in front of the civilized world, to condemn his imprisonment, and to call for his release so that he can publicly and freely promote his cause, in which the civilized world purports to believe.

Read The Whole Thing. While Americans are having fun debating their popular culture other people are fighting for their freedom:

My name is Heshmat Tabarzadi. I am an Iranian secular democrat human rights activist. I have been arrested several times on charges related to my activities, most recently after the green movement and the disputed election results of 2009. In October 2010, I was sentenced to eight years in prison, convicted of five charges of “insulting the Leader,” “insulting the President,” “propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding with intent to harm the state security,” and “disturbing public order.” I had already spent seven years of my life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for my activities as a student leader. Additionally I have spent another 4 years of my latest verdict and still have four more years remaining. I have spent part of every year of my life in prison since 1999 and while imprisoned I have been tortured on several different occasions. Meanwhile my different publications have been shut down, I have been denied the right to peaceful participation in two secular democratic and human rights organizations, and I have been prohibited from any social activities for 10 years.

2. Mediaite: Fox’s Adam Housley Slams ‘Bigoted’ and ‘Pathetic’ Racial Remarks About His Interracial Marriage

Earlier today we reported on OWN’s special interview with TV star Mowry, in which she tearfully recounted being called a “white man’s whore,” among other slurs. Speaking with TVNewser, Housley excoriated those who wish to cut down their relationship.

“The fact that in this day and age, we get attacked for our interracial relationship is beyond sad…it is pathetic,” he said. “Yes I am white. Yes she is half black. Marrying a white man does not erase her color and marrying a woman who is half black does not mean I am blinded. The problem isn’t pigmentation…the problem is backwards, bigoted thought from people who should know better.”

3. Twitchy: Louis Farrakhan’s extraterrestrial ‘Wheel’ has nothing to do with Pat Sajak … Or does it?

If you’re like the vast majority of human beings on this planet, you haven’t closely followed the preaching of minister Louis Farrakhan, former calypso music artist, extremist Islamist, black supremacist, and all around anti-Semite. Well, it’s time you caught up on all the craziness … and Twitchy is here to help!

In short, it’s all about The Wheel. No, we’re not talking about the Wheel of Fortune. That’s Pat Sajak — different minister. It’s some kind of mothership from outer space that follows Farrakhan around. At some point, when he’s good and ready, he will climb on board to fly away from planet Earth and, for good measure, maybe kill off all of our planet’s blue-eyed devils.

4. Newsbusters: Ann Coulter Challenges Ed Schultz: ‘Invite Me on Your Show, You Lying P–sy’

Moreover, I don’t care that they’re all a bunch of pussies at MSNBC, but cut the B.S. posturing when you won’t allow any non-retarded conservative on your airwaves.

5. Dana Stevens at Slate: Entry 9: Forrest Gump and the Sundance Kid snubbed by the Academy!

So I promise to return to 12 Years in our next round (and please get started without me if you like). But first, a few observations about this morning’s predawn rites: The biggest puzzle for me is why the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, a near-universal presence on top-10 lists throughout the land and certainly a far more accessible movie than their Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, has been entirely shut out of the major awards (though it did get some recognition in the technical categories, including a nod for its magic-making DP, Bruno Delbonnel, for his cinematography).

6. Noah Rothman at Mediaite: A Fringe Coalition: When the Left and Right Join Forces to Discredit the Center

The network’s prime time hosts have, in fact, gone all in (so to speak) in the effort to expose Christie as a vindictive and manipulative “bully,” going so far as to repeatedly broadcast arcane and unsubstantiated theories about Christie’s motives. National Review editor Rich Lowry correctly noted that the various theories posited by MSNBC personalities designed to make Christie a toxic property“failed to meet the most basic evidentiary standard of, you know, marshaling some evidence.”

But those theories satisfy a purpose, one with bipartisan appeal, apparently: The desperate need shared by both the far-right and the far-left to smother the Christie juggernaut in its crib.

Pundits on the cable news networks often lament the lack of bipartisanship that supposedly characterized an idealized version of American history, often while failing to recognize their own roles in an era of hyper-partisan politics. But these pundits could just as easily recognize it in the emerging fringe alliance. Both of America’s political extremes apparently view centrism as an existential threat and are willing, if reluctantly, to ally in order to guarantee that theirs remain the loudest and most influential voices in the room.

I’ll keep reading Rothman, who I regard as one of the best media writers around, but I found this one to be a misfire in the narrowness with which he chose to frame the “far-right” and “far-left.” I registered my dissent with him on Twitter:



Even in 1997 — a decade after Brawley’s story had been proved a hoax beyond a scintilla of a doubt — Sharpton arranged for her to give a speech to his United African Movement at a Brooklyn church.

I find it hard to believe that Al Sharpton did not know Brawley was lying about being raped by a Nazi cult on the Wappingers Falls police force.

Brawley’s boyfriend later told Newsday that she had admitted to him at the time that she cooked up the story with her mother. Is it believable that she didn’t also tell her trusted adviser Al Sharpton?

Is Al Sharpton a “far left” figure? Maybe he was when first starting out, but these days he’s within the bosom of the Democratic Party. He’s “left” and his views may be “far out” sometimes, but his views, as despicable as they are, count as within the mainstream of progressive/so-called liberal thought.

How about this for a definition: you’re not “far” anything if you choose to work through either the Democratic or Republican parties.

8. Andrew Klavan at Truth Revolt: Lena Dunham Exposes the Truth About OnScreen Nudity

I’ve been thinking a lot about Lena Dunham’s naked body.  It’s a difficult job, but someone’s got to do it.  Last week, TheWrap’s TV Editor Tim Molloy got yelled at because he dared to ask why Dunham was always taking her clothes off on her TV show Girls.  Girls is an HBO series in which the 20-something actress daughters of famous people — including the daughters of newsman Brian Williams and playwright David Mamet — portray obnoxious, self-obsessed 20-something females trying to make it in New York.  About 870,000 people watch the show every week.  That’s not a lot, but I suspect most of them work in the media.  Anyway, that would explain why the show gets such ecstatic reviews.

9. At Elle last month, hat tip to Kathy ShaidleThe Carrie Bradshaw Myth – What’s Wrong with ‘Sex and the City’ – ELLE

Well, guess what? I’m an editor at I have a formidable pile of Miu Miu. My love life is actually pretty exciting. And with every TBS re-run or SATC marathon on the Style Network, I’m starting to realize something kind of sad: What I didn’t “get” in my younger days wasn’t the secret to Carrie’s coolness… it was that Carrie Bradshaw is an idiot. And a sucker. And—this is the part that hurts me most—a really shitty modern woman.

And I think that’s what pisses me off most about Carrie Bradshaw, what makes me angry at myself for not seeing it before: Carrie pretends to be independent and free-thinking, but at her core, she’s a totally passive woman who can’t lead an adventure or survive without knowing someone (or actually, everyone) is totally in love with her. Despite her “girls just wanna be free” party line, Carrie Bradshaw still needs a guy to make her feel complete. And to me, that’s beyond dumb. It’s kind of unforgivable.

10. Life News: 29-Year-Old Woman’s Beautiful Answer to “Why are You STILL a Virgin?”

I admire Mandy’s stand. As a 32-year-old virgin who’s happily getting married this summer, I know how challenging it can be to save sex for marriage. As a woman who works at a pregnancy resource center, I also see the damaging effects of sex outside marriage. Sex is meant to be a holistic experience that touches our minds, bodies, souls, and emotions. It’s more than just a pleasure; it’s a pleasure that comes with great responsibility.

PJ Media Story Round Up

Lead PJM Stories

Bridget Johnson: $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Easily Approved by Congress

Bryan Preston: Get Ready, NRA: Harvey Weinstein Is Coming After You with a Movie Starring Meryl Streep

Bridget Johnson: Colorado Congressman Finds Obamacare Cancellation Number Higher Than Reported

Andrew C. McCarthy: KSM’s Prison Communiqués: Enemy Combatants Back To Being Criminal Defendants

Bridget Johnson: Ellison: Tea Party Has ‘Destroyed the Republican Party and Use It Only in Name’

Rodrigo Sermeno: Coburn to Congress: ‘The Problem Is Us’

Bill Straub: Agencies Sobering Up Travel Spending After Conference Parties


New at PJ Lifestyle

Bryan Preston: Justin Bieber Should Be Deported

PJ Lifestyle Cute Animal Videos: The Talking Porcupine Likes Pumpkins

Helen Smith: Why Marry if You Are a Call Girl?

Becky Graebner: #WashingtonDC: Moments of Beauty Chronicled by Instagram

Kathy Shaidle: Is Canada Becoming the Proving Ground for Eco-Terrorism?

Daily Reading

Page 19 of Frank S. Meyer’s In Defense of Freedom:

Frank S. Meyer's critique of scientism starts In Defense of #Freedom Excerpt from page 19 on the shortcomings of political science and other soft sciences that imitate the hard sciences. #politicalscience #politics #conservatism

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

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I have a 4.5 year old, so I rarely get to see anything that isn't animated (Frozen was spectacular, by the way) or an IMAX nature documentary. And I used to be an avid movie-goer. Now that I get out to grown-up movies only once or twice a year at most, I cannot bear to spend that time on anything designed to harrow my soul. Either the first or second movie I saw since the summer of '09 was Cowboys and Aliens! I did make it out to see Gravity in 3D, and I REALLY LOVED IT.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
#10...IF I had bought into that "save it for marriage crap", likely would have made me jump off a bridge...I got married for the first, last & only time at 57. I can NOT imagine what having my legs tied together for 57 years would have done to my sanity. By the time I found the "man of my dreams" I REALLY knew what I wanted, both in bed & out of bed. However, if others chose this insanity provoking route that's their biz...just stop knocking those of us who didn't take your path.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"just stop knocking those of us who didn't take your path."

It's not a knock against you to argue that factually one is more likely to be happy by getting married in one's 20s instead of living promiscuously until one's late 50s. Monogamous marriage is a better lifestyle than promiscuity. Evidence: you picked it. (At least I assume when you say marriage that that means monogamy but one can never really know these days...)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Project much? Seriously...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Still not getting my head around the necessity to expand The Hobbit to three feature length films. I'm pretty sure you could've told the story in it's entirety in one. I'll probably watch them some weekend on ENCORE or Netflix or Amazon Prime but I 'spect it'll be on background while I'm doing something else.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just pretend it's a nice long miniseries that you get to see in theatres on IMAX 3-D. But I think they've broken it down pretty well. Desolation of Smaug ended on a great cliffhanger. It's the Empire Strikes Back of the series with a good cliffhanger ending. I can see how they've got a full movie's worth of material with what they have left.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The best treatment of the Hobbit and TLOTR would be a high production value series, something like Game of Thrones...with episodes broken down nearly to the chapter level or there abouts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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