It was the slap heard ‘round the world.
Literally. Though I quit watching the Oscars years ago, the headlines and photo topping Drudge caught my attention. Social media posts from Australia, Japan and Italy showed viewers saw it live and uncensored. One clip racked up over 70 million views on YouTube in just two days.
Will Smith’s surreal smackdown of presenter Chris Rock for a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head, reportedly due to a medical condition called alopecia, cut across party lines. Some on both the political left and right supported him for defending his wife’s honor and women in general. Others slammed him for physical violence, “toxic masculinity” and another unjust attack on comedy — already on life support in these woke times.
I think he set a new low for Oscars, already a sinking ship.
Just the latest example of why they’re in free fall — 94 years after the Academy Awards began. Like Hollywood in general, it’s a morally bankrupt shell of what it was. Once proud of America, it now mostly pushes virtue-signaling, far-left agitprop seemingly more geared towards the box office in China and its 1.4 billion potential customers rather than its own country of 330 million. Or at least half of it.
Over the past 10 years, more than half the Best Picture winners portrayed the U.S. as racist, corrupt and homophobic. It’s a lecture we don’t need from elitist multi-millionaires living behind gated mansions, crisscrossing the country on private jets with armed security while scolding us over climate change, border walls, gun control, defunding police and other left-wing causes.
The Oscar ratings bear this out.
While ABC’s 16.6 million viewers this year surpassed 2021’s record low of 10.4 million since Nielsen began keeping track in the 1970s, traffic only spiked at the end after Smith lit up Rock and then the internet. The show in 2020 just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic drew over 23 million, the previous low. U.S. viewers have declined sharply since 1998 when 55.3 million watched Titanic win 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.
I first noticed serious trouble with the Oscars while serving as a Pentagon spokesman during the Bush administration.
In the 2008 show, several celebrities like Julie Christie of “Dr. Zhivago” fame in the 1960s, wore an orange ribbon to support Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay – international terrorists responsible for killing thousands of civilians. “Taxi to the Dark Side,” a film about Dilawar, one detainee who tragically died from abuse in Afghanistan, won Best Documentary. Meanwhile, “United 93,” a film about 40 heroes of 9/11 who tragically died in Shanksville, Pennsylvania while saving the U.S. Capitol from certain destruction, wasn’t even nominated for a major award.
In 2016, it was also bizarre to see Hollywood insiders boycott with a hashtag #OscarsTooWhite. Per my column back then, I also tuned out — yet with my own hashtag: #OscarsTooDumb. Small world though, that one also mentioned Jada Pinkett-Smith because she co-organized the boycott.
Beyond Will Smith, ironically named Best Actor for “King Richard” after assaulting Rock, the Oscars were offensive in other ways. The “Gay! Gay! Gay!” semi-skit by co-hosts Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer obtusely mocked Florida over the “Parental Rights in Education Bill,” provoking a witty response from Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary. Critics dishonestly labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill even though it doesn’t do that. Rather it bans teaching children in kindergarten through third grade, a.k.a. 4-7 year olds, about sexual orientation and gender identity – legally protecting a notion considered normal through history.
So why is Hollywood’s dysfunction important? Why should we care?
A corrosive entertainment industry with global reach that despises America hurts us at home and abroad. It’s worth tens of billions and increasingly uses that money to kill U.S. patriotism; fuel conflict along racial, gender and religious lines; and undermine how the world perceives us.
Hollywood used to be a soft power benefitting America. During my four years based in Japan and Italy as a Navy spokesman in the 1990s, we worked hard on community relations to foster positive relations throughout Asia, Australia and Europe. A great way to build instant rapport was sharing a laugh or line about Hollywood films, which were popular worldwide and usually cast Americans favorably.
Yet that power has been turned against us, mostly by fellow Americans. Our allies are more likely to despise us after watching Hollywood films. Our enemies see vindication. China is laughing all the way to the box office as they pressure Hollywood studios and celebrities to kowtow before communist leaders, joining corporations and professional sports leagues which have already sold out.
Just cancel the Oscars already. Before they cancel America.
J.D. Gordon is a former National Security & Foreign Policy Advisor to Republican leaders Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain. Previously, he served as a Pentagon spokesman during the George W. Bush Administration and is a retired Navy Commander.