Monday, February 28, 2005

Politics and Hollywood

This is not going to be another posting about the Hollywood fruitcakes making political statements that probably contributed heavily to Bush’s victory.

Though I can’t resist this one. I found out yesterday from the Sunday Telegraph Review section that Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair and, therefore, host of the most prestigious Oscar night party in Hollywood, wrote last year a 340 page diatribe against George W. Bush, entitled in a catchy sort of way, What We’ve Lost How the Bush Administration has Curtailed Freedoms, Ravaged the Environment and Damaged America and the World.

Oh my. I wonder how many votes the title alone delivered to the Republicans? Coming as it did from the editor of a ridiculous, glossy, mind-numbing publication like Vanity Fair? No wonder the more serious and consistent Democrats are in despair.

However, I was really going to talk about the Oscars. (Not the frocks as I haven’t seen them yet, though I am told Halle Berry, who got the Raspberry Award looked good and sounded quite funny. Deliberately so.)

One of the films up for various prizes was the reasonably highly rated Hotel Rwanda that deals with a real story of one hotel keeper, himself a Hutu, married to a Tutsi, who ended up using his well-honed skills saving Tutsis and some Hutus from the murderous militias.

The film received nothing, even though it was dealing with a worthy political issue, something, one assumes Hollywood rather likes.

It was then pointed out to me that the film was just a little too political and not in the accepted way either. It is, for instance, very anti-UN. Although it portrays individual UN officers on the ground in a good light, the organization is shown up to be bureaucratic, inefficient and, above all, self-serving.

There is, I believe, one scene when the anxious refugees watch the UN officer go over to talk to the delegation that has just flown in to tell him what they intend to do. The officer listens with mounting anger, then throws his blue beret to the ground. The UN has decided to do nothing about the refugees or those who are still on the run from the militias. It will spend all its resources on evacuating its personnel.

But an even more important scene (after all, one could argue that every organization should look after its people, though one could also ask what those people were doing there in the first place) is when the UN, after much deliberation, decides that what is happening in Rwanda is not genocide.

That means that the UN is not duty-bound to do anything about it. Now, where have we heard this recently?

After a great deal of deliberation and many expensive missions sent in by the UN, the EU, various NGOs, old uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, the UN has decided that the situation in Darfur does not amount to genocide. So, nothing needs to be done.

Oh I am sorry. Something has been done. Vast amounts of money has been sent to Sudan and Darfur, in particular. The EU sent a very large amount last year and has already allocated new sums this year. Have we had a single account on all those millions of euros? Do we know what happened to the money sent in by the UN? Did it help the people of Darfur (or anyone else in Sudan)?

Was it gobbled up by the Sudanese government (something of a contradiction in terms but I believe it exists technically and is, indeed, represented on the UN Human Rights Commission)? How much of it has been waylaid by the militias for arms?

In ten years’ time there will be another film, this time about Sudan. I don’t suppose that will get an Oscar either. The Hollywood politicos will go along with many things (most of them extremely stupid) but not with criticism of the UN.

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