The Hurt Locker and the Oscars
The Hurt Locker is facing some difficulties in the race up to the Oscars, difficulties I didn't really think worth mentioning, until the latest round of news today and the announcement that a producer of the film has been banned from the show.
Adding to their troubles, the film is currently being sued by a U.S. Army Sergeant who is claiming that the Jeremy Renner character is based on him and that he made up the phrase that became the title of the film, all without credit, and I assume without money.
Yet is it right that amongst all that goes on behind the scenes of the Academy Awards to secure nominations and awards that a producer has been banned for just asking voters to vote for his film?
You know I don't want to leap on a bandwagon and hurl rubbish at The Hurt Locker (Filmstalker review), mainly because I really liked the film, but also because I think the Oscars have a bit of a cheek banning the producer from the ceremony for what he did.
Let's first look back at what he actually did do.
Nicolas Chartier, one of the producers and financiers of the film, sent a mass email out to Academy voters encouraging them to vote for The Hurt Locker and not Avatar (Filmstalker review). Okay, fair enough, he produced The Hurt Locker and not Avatar, what's wrong with that? Plus there's tons of campaigning that goes on through the awards season, and as much bad publicity from one camp to the next as a political election campaign.
So why is the producer banned from the ceremony? Well according to the story in Entertainment Weekly it's all about that email and how it violated the...
”...Academy’s strict campaigning rules.”
Well the first thing that bothers me is that they have campaigning rules in the first place. Forgive me for being so ignorant and perhaps simplistic, but I thought it was about watching the films in the categories, weighing them up against each other for the specific category that they are in, and then deciding on the best one. After that you just have to mark an 'X' in the box and hand in your ballot paper. Am I being overly simplistic? What else is there to it?
When you go to the cinema there aren't touts from every studio who grab you on the way out and try to convince you that their film was the best you'd seen this year, you're perfectly capable of making up your own mind on that score, after all, you've just seen the film for yourself, how can someone just talking to you convince you that their film actually was the best one you've seen?
Perhaps if they started taking you out for lunch? Sending you gifts, expensive presents, merchandise from the film, personal meetings with the stars and the creatives behind it, promising you deals for your own films, and so on. Maybe that would help you realise that actually their film did have the best costumes out of any of the year, and all because of that lovely meal.
The very fact that there are rules about what these people can and can't campaign about is worrying. What is there to campaign about? The voters watch the films, think about it, and then vote. Maybe they even need to watch the film again, but they don't need marketing and PR people hounding them about the right thing to do.
I find the entire idea of the campaigning abhorrent to the whole process of weighing up films against each other in the eye of the viewer or voter, anything else seems like persuasion and corruption.
With all that in mind why is the producer Nicolas Chartier being singled out?
I've read other stories about actors and films having PR people who court those in the know in order to get nominations and votes, and that kind of story just leads me to think that it's all far too like a corrupt political campaign.
At least in politics there's a reason to argue back and forth between parties and politicians and to try and market the party on their ever changing political beliefs and stances on all manner of issues, but not with films.
Watch, decide, vote, the rest is surely far more corrupt and against the idea of “the best film” than an email asking people to “vote for me”. If they're going to ban Chartier, ban all the PR and marketing around the event. Isolate the voting panel from it all and make any form of “campaigning” or plain bribery against the rules, and throw out everyone who does it.
Let the films and performances speak for themselves.