The Current Crisis

Emotional Emptiness

Never believe an actress's tears -- at least not until she grows up.

By 3.27.02

Washington -- Is it not delicious? In the aftermath of a hard fought Oscar campaign, politically correct Hollywood is fending off charges that the campaigns were too "negative" and dependent on "lavish spending." Can we expect the studios to adopt campaign finance reform for themselves?

According to the New York Times, the likes of Jeffrey Katzenberg, "founder of DreamWorks" (not the name of a pornographic movie but of some sort of Hollywood industrial park), prophesies "that at some point fairly soon the major studios [will] get together and agree to a voluntary code of ethics to forestall some of the cutthroat tactics and negative campaigning that he said characterized this year's contest." Well, I like that, a McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood. If we cannot get them for bad taste maybe we can get them for finance violations.

Yet there are so many more reforms the founder of DreamWorks might consider. How about not only producing movies that appeal to deranged adolescents but also producing movies for adults? The Motion Picture Association of America admits that only 27% of Americans are "frequent moviegoers." There was a day when the figure was much higher.

Hollywood's Molières and Shakespeares might attract an adult audience by creating movies in which dialogue lasts for more than three minutes before the obligatory car crash or catastrophic explosion or burp scene? Hollywood's sex scenes are all right by my latitudinarian standards, but Hollywood's reliance on bathroom noises and lavatory wit is tiresome.

Also I am not convinced that the actors and actresses possess the dramatic talents fit for intelligent drama. Most are no more than gifted underwear models. All the balderdash we have heard about how tremendously "emotional" the Oscar winners were the other night only fortifies my belief that Hollywood is for troubled children. Spare me the guff about the Hollywoodians' sublime emotionalism. It puts me in mind of one of my favorite personal prejudices, to wit: the chief importance of emotions is that they are so easily faked. The emotional displays of the other night's Oscar winners are nothing to brag about. They are merely more examples of Hollywood's fakery.

Nonetheless Mr. DreamWorks enthused, "It was a great evening….So many emotional moments from Sidney's speech to Halle and Denzel. Let us bask in the warm glow a little longer." Said another, "Halle's reaction was so emotional and so powerful," and this huckster of hype went on to say, "even more eloquent was the moment when Denzel was on the stage, having just won his Oscar, and Sidney was in his box on the side of the theater. They had this moment where they were standing there, just kind of shaking their Oscars at one another." Frankly, all that Oscar shaking strikes me as unseemly.

Let us return to the matter of how easily emotions are faked. "Halle's" tears and trembling were obviously faked. She clearly thought all the white Hollywoodians in the audience who had just made her the first African American actress to win an Oscar for "Best Actress" were hypocrites. In essence that is what she was saying between sobs. She thinks Hollywood is full of racial bigots. It probably is. We know it is filled with political bigots. It has no tolerance for those who do not accept the liberals' constantly changing party line. It is also filled with bigotry against fat people, ordinary people, and, as I have implied, adults.

It is also filled with bigotry against the educated and the civilized. Its enthusiasm for Oscar night's infantile displays of emotion is an example. What is so admirable about emotion? Mussolini was an expert at emotion, and the German fellow too, and Marc Antony, when, in his funeral oration, he whipped up the crowd to such frenzy that it went on a murderous rampage. How would Mr. DreamWorks feel if Miss Berry's hysterics had provoked her audience to burn down DreamWorks, whatever it actually is?

Thankfully such emotions as Miss Berry's are easily faked, but remember the observation of that pre-Hollywoodian dramatist Oscar Wilde, "The advantage of emotions is that they lead us astray." Ponder that arcanum, Hollywoodians. It is called wit.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.