The Hollywood activism is not reserved for only the night of the Academy Awards.
The expectation for the 2017 Oscars is it may be a night filled with political speeches and societal commentary. One Hollywood talent studio is seeing fit that messaging extends beyond the awards podium. The United Talent Agency (UTA) announced it will not be staging its annual Oscars party in order to instead hold a pro-immigration rally this past Friday.
The reason was specifically a response that one UTA client is Asghar Farhadi, director of “The Salesman”, nominated for Best Foreign Film. It is also the misinterpreted general reaction to Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Farhadi was once tabbed to endure the toughened vetting process for incoming foreign nationals, and as a result he has chosen to not come to the Oscar ceremony, as a form of protest.
The rally was called “United Voices”, held outside the UTA headquarters, in Beverly Hills. The participants were said to be “Members of the creative community and other leading voices.” (Self-aggrandizement their own). A handful of UTA-repped celebrities spoke at the 2 hour rally, one in which numerous platitudes were delivered, filled with hyperbolic inaccuracies.
Actor Keegan-Michael Key spoke, addressing the crowd to the drama exemplified by Farhadi’s protest. Key, using the exact words issued in a UTA press release weeks earlier, mentioned the “Chilling effect on the global exchange of ideas, not to mention freedom of expression.”
I’m not too clear on the negative impact of expression. How can anyone declare rights of expression are curtailed when referencing a movie that was released in US theaters, and is being hailed before a global audience of hundreds of millions.
Of course, the reactions — and Farhadi’s protest — are completely overblown to begin with. For one, they are not referencing a travel ban. Trump’s executive order only toughened the vetting and background checks of foreign travelers. Farhadi was never banned; he had to endure delays as a result of background checks.
But this too is overblown, as the White House stated they granted a clearance for the director to travel directly to the U.S. for the ceremony. He still chose to stay behind.
Additionally the declaration of this being a “ban on Muslims” is hysterical, given the executive order is based on seven countries, not a religion. Are those nation largely comprised of a Muslim citizenry? Sure. But if this is a grievous issue, you would have expected there to be an uproar when the legislation was originally instituted — during President Obama’s administration.
One result: Knowing the political leanings of Academy members this gives them ample chance to make a statement with their votes. The odds of “The Salesman” getting the win have increased greatly since Farhadi announced his protest back in January.