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Freedom of "Speech"

I've been waiting for someone to point to Hollywood as a convenient scapegoat for the Arizona shootings.. So far,  so good, however, as nobody has yet resorted to that familiar punching bag, so popular with both Democrats and Republicans whenever something awful happens that raises too many tough questions.

Besides, whether he intended to or not, Ricky Gervais took enough pot shots at Hollywood bigwigs during the Golden Globes to satisfy the most diehard Culture Warrior. In fact, Conservatives have pretty much embraced him (thanks to Stephen Brophy for bringing this to my attention) as one of their own, though apparently none of them stayed tuned to the broadcast through to the closing credits to hear Gervais's final comment, "And thank you God for making me an atheist.

So, perhaps civility may reign briefly in politics. It will never take hold, though, in Hollywood during Oscar season. Compared to Academy Award campaigns, political campaigns are as toothless as "The King's Speech." For some have suggested that the story has been considerably whitewashed. An anonymous source sent an e-mail to blogger Scott Feinberg reminding people that King George VI, though played brilliantly by Colin Firth, was perhaps a bit of an anti-Semite and Nazi appeaser. Aamong other  things, it seems he endorsed Britain's policy of barring Jewish refugees from relocating to Palestine, instead returning them to Germany. None of which is mentioned in the film.

Of course, the aggrieved parties are insisting that these reports originate with the competition in categories in which "Speech" is strongest, most notably Best Actor, where Firth is a leading candidate. Their claims are no doubt true, but then  so, it seems, are the claims about George VI.  But I find this germane only insofar as had the filmmakers actually included this troubled aspect of their story the film would have been far richer psychologically and dramatically. On the other hand had they actually delved into such ambiguous and troubling depths instead of grinding out the non-controversial pabulum that seems to delight Academy members when it comes to biopics of this kind, it probably wouldn't get any Oscar attention. Or even made in the first place.

And finally, it's ironic that the aggrieved studio releasing "The King's Speech" is the Weinstein Brothers since they were rumored to be the ones behind similar "smear campaigns" against "A Beautiful Mind" in 2002 and "The Hurt Locker" last year. I guess turnabout is fair play.

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