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Oscars Defend Unions, Attack Funders

From a gleeful Associated Press:

Charles Ferguson (L) and Audrey Marrs (R) pose backstage with their Oscars for for Best Documentary Feature for the ‘Inside Job’ backstage at the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 27, 2011.

Oscar winners hit union-busting, bank bigwigs

By Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer Mon Feb 28, 2011

LOS ANGELES – From driving up to the red carpet in hybrid cars to Michael Moore’s infamous anti-war outburst in 2003 ("Shame on you, Mr. Bush!"), the Oscars have always been center stage for political statements.

This year, two awards recipients thanked their union crew — in thinly-veiled shots at the Republican governor of Wisconsin, who has made headlines for trying to strip unionized civil servants of their collective bargaining rights.

"I think what’s going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now," said Wally Pfister, who won a cinematography Oscar for "Inception," during a press briefing backstage. Earlier, he thanked his "fantastic union crew."

Gary Rizzo, who won for sound-mixing on "Inception," thanked "all the hard working boom operators and utility sound people that worked on the production crew. Union, of course."

Thankfully, such boring ‘technical awards’ never made it into the Oscars broadcasts or the media accounts the next day. That’s how much Hollywood champions its ‘workers.’

Even so, the difference between the kind of people who work as union members on film crews versus public sector unions is the difference between night and day. Apart from Teamsters, that is.

In fact, unions are the main reason why so many films and commercials are now shot in ‘right to work’ states and places like Mexico. And even in Los Angeles, more and more productions are being filmed with largely non-union crews.

Mostly because using union members means paying an extra 16 to 22% premium on top of the already wildly generous wages.

Another winner said that it was wrong that executives whose banks were bailed out by the U.S. government had not gone to jail.

Charles Ferguson, whose winning documentary "Inside Job" analyzed the causes of the global financial crisis of 2008, told the audience that those behind the crisis were criminals.

"Not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that’s wrong," he said to applause.

Backstage, he offered reasons why they hadn’t been prosecuted.

"The financial industry has become so politically powerful that it is able to inhibit the normal processes of justice and law enforcement," he said.

Apart from his ignorance about the causes of the financial crisis, we suspect Mr. Ferguson is also blissfully unaware that not one significant feature length film has ever been made in Hollywood or anywhere else in the United States without financing from those evil Wall Street bankers. Not in the entire history of the movies. — Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

By the way, most documentaries are shot with non-union crews. Including Michael Moore’s epics.

But just as some say ‘politics is Hollywood for ugly people,’ it’s also clear that ‘Hollywood is politics for stupid people.’

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, February 28th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

17 Responses to “Oscars Defend Unions, Attack Funders”

  1. Right of the People says:

    Of course the actors support the unions, they are forced to belong to the Screen Actor’s Guild if they want to work. I bet if they had to pay as much percentage wise of their salary in union dues that your normal truck driver, auto worker, etc did they would be so hot on supporting the unions.

    I honestly couldn’t care less what anybody from Hollywood thinks. Most actors are insecure and don’t like their real selves, that is why they like to play other usually more desirable characters because it’s something they’ll never be.

    We put way too much emphasis on “stars” in our society, most of them are dysfunctional human beings who can’t fit into normal society. Them and pro athletes. I watch movies for entertainment but if they were to go away it wouldn’t sadden me a bit, there are always great books to read.

    • TerryAnne says:

      Yessir!! I watched the red carpet arrivals last night and it solidified my hatred of Hollywood. Here’s a bunch of people wearing stuff that costs more than some people will make in a lifetime, stuff they got for free, all walking and standing around going, “You’re so pretty!”, “No, you’re so pretty!”, “You’re so talented!”, “No, you’re so talented!” Completely nauseating! And to then realize that many people view that as the epitome of culture and life.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Indeed, RotP, you hit paydirt there. As Steve indicated, “Hollywood is politics for stupid people.” That gave me a wry grin. I used to say that “Talent is interesting and much is made of it when a really good movie or music is showcased. But real talent is when an adult is able to grasp the imagination of a child and the child, as a result is inspired and learns something. Real talent comes in the form of a teacher.” But then, I used to say that a very long time ago when teachers were adults.

    • untrainable says:

      Rusty. I always heard “DC politics is Hollywood for the ugly”, but I think it works either way. Nancy Pelosi / Bawney Fwank… I rest my case. I’ve never understood why anyone listens to anything actors have to say about anything other than acting. And some can’t even speak intelligently about that.

      They spend their lives outside of our reality. They make outrageous sums of money for pretending that something that’s not true… is. So why is anyone surprised that they also, with great proficiency and no discrimination, pretend that things that are true… aren’t. If they see reality at all, it is to them as Star Wars was to us in 1977. “I see it, it looks real, but I know it’s not where I live.”

    • River0 says:

      I’m a retired actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild, and have seen things I dare not repeat. SAG has come very close to ruining the domestic film industry, and have driven production overseas and to Canada by literally warring with the studios and demanding absurd compensation for even menial tasks. The leadership runs the gamut from ‘progressive’ to Marxist, and there’s no balanced view or appreciation of the industry’s risks.

      The Academy bears a lot of responsibility as well for the mess they’ve created. Does anyone remember how classy Johnny Carson was when he hosted? Or Billy Crystal? (a close second). There’s been a dramatic decline in the whole spectrum of Hollywood. It reflects the country as a whole, I’m afraid.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      RiverO, you really made me think. Yup, one of the reasons actors and actresses of the past evoked some respect was the class with which they presented themselves. We are now at a time where instead of making an inspirational film, or one that makes you “go all inside yourself and think”, we have films about cloaked socialism and how it’s good or how the villain is really a nice guy, if you just provide the right stimulus. In other words, not cause and effect but irresponsibility is the result of outside forces. Carson had class, Cosby, Bob Hope, Paul Newman. But past about 1985, I never had an inkling or desire to go to any personal appearance by any “big name” anymore. When Henry Fonda Died, I was very disappointed. Even moreso when Jimmy Stewart followed. Or, was it the other way around? I don’t remember but in either case, you could see how they plied their craft with a strong work ethic, spoke well of their peers and it wasn’t just lip service. Most were outwardly politically neutral and many said that they had no business using their notoriety to influence public opinion. Wow…don’t see that nowadays.

      Good Post, RiverO….a thinker.

    • proreason says:

      I read an article a few weeks back (or was it something on Rush) that said that union stage hands in NYC make up to $400,000 per year.

      Now, that really leads you to wonder about what value is and how people should be compensated for the work they do.

      Stage hands don’t write the plays or perform them. Nobody is paying $200 per ticket because the stage hands are really really good on a broadway play. So them making that much money is just plain stupid.

      My view is that almost all lifestyle improvement are made by a tiny group of people. Only one guy invented the hammer, not a committee of stone age people sitting around debating how to pound stuff. At some point, some other guy got the brainstorm of tieing a rock to a stick, and then later another guy invented steel and than another one got the idea of shaping some tempered steel so he could jam it on the end of a round stick to hold it better.

      Probably a million people have invented all of the stuff that all the billions of other people use to make their lives better. Without the million, the rest of us would still be squatting in the dirt.

      So I don’t have any issue at all if Steve Jobs makes a gazillion gazillion dollars. He’s worth it.

      And I have a hard time seeing how a stagehand is worth more than a doctor.

      (and oh yes, despite their brainless politics, I’m fine with actors making millions of dollars. Movies and TV is a form of lifestyle improvement, and if someone is good at pretending to be somebody else and lots of people want to watch, so be it. They earn their milliions even though a lot of them are scumbags.)

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Sorta puts “best boy” in a whole new perspective, dunnit?

  2. bill says:

    Darn, I missed the whole thing.

  3. heykev says:

    Like most people I know, I love movies, just not Hollywood. Hollywood is where the uberliberal have a place to inbreed. Because of this liberalism – and utilizing the talents of Socialists, Marxists, commies – there is not a liberal cause they have not loved. Abortion, Gay Rights, Unions are the backbone of US workers, Communism are all portrayed positively. Conversely. religious people are bigoted homo-phobes murders who kick their dogs and beat their wives and sexually abuse their children.

    Some of Hollywood is finally waking up to the fact the we don’t want movies like Brokeback Mountain, Reds, Erin Brockovich, Milk, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Platoon, JFK and so many more that espouse liberal doctrine. Instead movies like Toy Story and The Blind Side who besides being good stories made money…which is the one thing Hollywood really cares about.

    “Hollywood” may claim to be union friendly, but the reality is something different. Movies, TV shows, video games, special effects are all migrating OUT of Hollywood at breakneck speeds because of the inherent high costs associated with making movies in LA. If you watch ’til the end of movies and see exactly where they were filmed, you will know that most movies are not made in CA anymore – unless that CA is short for Canada.

    Here’s an interesting read by the Milkin Institute about “Film Flight” from California. It’s cost JOBS both and revenue for the state: http://www.milkeninstitute.org/pdf/FilmFlight.pdf

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      heykev, you have noted something very clear. Unions destroy the free market and productivity. The main reason is cost. I’m a union member but what sets my union apart is that we use it as a tool to negotiate our contract, not to hold the company’s feet to the fire. There was some of that but with the latest hirings from ’98 to now, our union, uh, “leaders” have learned that we’re not about to be confrontational with our management. No, we don’t particularly care for our management but feel it is better to dispute things amicably versus being a bunch of stone-wallers. Unions have a place, ever since the days in the early 1900’s when factories and other outfits demanded long hours for very little pay, no lunch breaks, etc. To say it has become ridiculous is to say the obvious. Neither management nor the workers should have an upper-hand..but actually, the owner and chief operator of a private company should have the most say. Profit-sharing and employee-owned companies seem to do pretty well. Maturity is paramount and shutting a company down for some perceived indiscretion is foolish. No longer do companies expect workers to toil seven days a week for pitiful wages, but it’s gotten way out of hand. Getting paid $55/hour to put lug nuts on Chevrolets is just stupid. The assembly line took craftsmanship out of the equation and delegated it to rank-and-file labor. However, bright, energetic employees get punished for being that way as well.

      Someday, I hope a middle ground can be reached. Being a fan of a particular science-fiction series that I am buying on DVD, I noted how much of it was filmed in Canada. When in the days of TV productions all looking like SoCal, (MASH, The A-Team, KnightRider, etc) I am noting lots of green, connifers, mountains I’ve never seen before, etc, and all adding to the versatility of the series as well as pleasing to the eye.

      Hollywood has ruined itself and will shut down eventually. Pull up stakes like other major industries and either just go out of business, or move out of country. I suspect the latter.

    • Right of the People says:

      At one time before the uberliberals took over, (before and during WWII) Hollywood used to make movies that made people feel good, told a good story, told the truth and were entertaining. Since then with bozos like Pollack, Stone, and a host of others they’ve gone away from that.

      It’s really sad that the last few movies my wife and I spent money to go see were all animated or partially animated, WALL-E, Toy Story 3, Transformers, Up to mention a few. Like a friend of mine said, the animated character of WALL-E showed more emotions and acting ability than Brad Pitt or Sean Penn or any of the Baldwins and that is just plain sad.

      My wife and I watch TCM and Fox Classic Movies more than any others because they show movies made when realism and truth really counted then. Back in the 30s, 40s & 50s an actor not only had to be able to act but usually dance and sing too. Even Marlon Brando had to sing in Guys and Dolls. Most of these butt pirates now wouldn’t have even gotten a bit part as a non-speaking extra back then.

  4. JohnMG says:

    And then there’s Charlie Sheen.

  5. Anonymoose says:

    I remember hearing in the mid-80’s about how Hollywood was getting too expensive to film movies in, and productions were moving to Canada and Mexico to save money. The political “messages” behind everything have a long history, I’ve always felt it was because Hollywood got burned bad by McCarthyism and even today are still behaving as if it’s still around today.

    In my life I’ve thankfully only had to work at one job with Union employees. I never got any pressure to join, but it was also pretty clear that you wouldn’t get very far without belonging. They also did less work than anyone else and had special treatment because of their contracts. After less than a year of working like crazy while they did stood around and talked I had enough and quit.

    Unions have screwed this country up ten ways from Sunday, and most of the members are the last people you think would vote Democrat and/or Liberal, but none of them look further than their paycheck. So while more jobs leave the country and the the non-union people work harder and harder, they can keep on striking to get more time off and increases in their benefits. Eventually there’ll be nothing left.

  6. Mae says:

    Couldn’t care less if there are private sector unions as long as I don’t have to bail them out. Public sector? That’s another question. We, the people who pay the bills, don’t have one iota of say in what public sector unions milk out of us. Most of the time our House reps do just what they want to, not what their constituents want.

    My suggestion to the Hollywood community, since they are so all-fired certain that the public sector unionistas aren’t getting their due, is that each blithering idiot who makes unfounded statements re Wisconsin or other bankrupt states also makes a contribution to the classroom, the fire house and the police station of, for instance, free passes for life to the local bijou. If they expect the general populace to fund pensions and health care for life, it’s the least Hollywood could do.

  7. tranquil.night says:

    As Rush (bless him) luminously noted today, here’s the real Documentary of the Year, although it should come as no surprise that the Oscar-winning Director wasn’t in competition this year if the Conservatives know what his movie is: http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/

    I first heard about the film about a year ago from Big Government, and that it promised to be a pretty strong indictment of the unions.

    Then I heard Guggenheim, the Inconvenient Truth Director, was the one leading the project, and I’d all but dismissed it. My suspicions were even further heightened when I saw the Liberal’s Media heralding and hyping the film at first.

    Finally getting an opportunity to see it, I was stunned. It’s honest towards charters, damning towards public sector unions, and well polished to top off. Quite amazing poetry that the Director of one of the biggest scam Propoganda Films of recent times (that is, until this year’s Documentary winner) turned around to expose a legitimate and equally preposterous scam in his follow-up film.

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