Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Got Milk?

This year, as in every other year, the Oscars provided a chance for the film industry to slap itself and its subsidiaries on the back and proclaim a job well done. This job is taken up with the greatest gusto most years by the winner of Best Actor, and in 2009 Sean Penn didn't let us down. He thanked everyone - the Academy, the cast and crew of the film Milk, campaigners for equal rights and social justice, and even the American people for electing Barack Obama - a matter of rather tangential relevance. Glaringly obvious, however, was the omission of his gratitude towards Harvey Milk, the man whose courageous life and death were the basis of the film.

It might be easy to argue that there isn't much sense in thanking a dead person, if it weren't for the fact that other acceptance speeches are rife with nods towards deceased relatives, friends, mentors and "late-greats". Penelope Cruz, accepting the award this year for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, thanked her dear friend "who is no longer with us". And it appears that being alive does not guarantee you thanks from the highly-paid actor or actress that portrayed you in a successful film. Just ask Erin Brockovich, who Julia Roberts failed to acknowledge after winning Best Actress for portraying her in Erin Brockovich. That must have really hurt.

Surely, amidst all the tears and laughter and congratulations thrown around the auditorium, there was something forgotten, when the inspirational figures whose lives were the fodder for Hollywood films are ignored.

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