Sunday, November 23, 2008

Harvey Milk, Politics, Prop 8 & The Oscars

Obviously, 2008 has been a big year for politics. America has embraced a candidate who campaigned on the concepts of change, but at the same time when they voted on individual issues they tended to vote "no" to change, and yes to more traditional values, especially when it came to states that had same-sex marriage ban...and no state has created, or continue to create more press than California with it's state initiative, proposition 8 which passed with overwhelming support to ban gay marriage and support a traditional interpretation of marriage between one man and one woman.

I've wondered what effect Prop 8 will have on the award and press attention associated with the film Milk. Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, one of the first (if not the first) openly gay elected officials, who was elected to the board of Supervisors in San Fransisco in 1977. (Milk along with Mayor Moscone where both assassinated shortly after by another elected official to the board, Dan White).

From the earliest Oscar predictions for this upcoming award season, it has been largely expected that Milk would be one of the top 5 films come Oscar time, and that along with a nod for best Picture Sean Penn would receive an Oscar nod for his role as Harvey Milk.

Yet, being that Hollywood stars are right at the center of much of Prop 8 debate, I have to wonder what effect the larger political debate will have over the small group of Hollywood elite who get to vote for the Academy Award nominees and winners.
I think it is very likely if the Academy decides to reward Milk with multiple nominations, I think it will also open up the opportunity for many celebrities to "get political" about their belief about gay/lesbian rights.

Harvey Milk was not just a gay-politician, he was a politician who was fighting for the rights of his gay constituents in the Castro district of San Fransisco. Harvey Milk has a time in the spotlight over an issue, Proposition 6, the Briggs Initiative which was championed by Senator Jason Briggs, and this proposition was to ban homosexuals from teaching in Public Schools. Milk also sponsored initiatives to stop anti-gay discrimination in the work place.
I'm not sure what role the political debates of the time play in the film, but sure Hollywood celebs who are strong champions of gay rights will make a film connection with Milk and embrace the film.

In fact, it takes pretty minimal searching to come up with a list of names of celebrities who have spoken out against Proposition 8 this past year and have championed the rights for gay marriage. (It's much harder to find celebrities who favored the ban).

Some celebrities who spoke out against prop 8: Pink, Drew Barrymore, Rose McGowan, James Franco (who plays Harvey's long-term partner in Milk), Heather Matarazzo, Chad Allen, Wanda Sykes, Alec Mapa, Lucy Lawless, Ricki Lake, Christina Aguilera, America Farrera, Samual L. Jackson, Molly Ringwald, Ellen Degeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Portia De Rossi, James Cromwell, Patricia Clarkson, and Anjelica Huston...and surely many more.

It's hard to tell, and even once all is said and done, really measure how this political hot button issue will play a role in Milk's nominations and recognition in this upcoming award season...but it's certainly something I've been wondering, and I certainly expect as the film is released to wide audiences and award accolades begin coming out, this bio-pic will be part of context for bringing to topic of even more.

30 comments:

Adam S. said...

I'm sure Milk would have received a share of nominations alone because it sounds like a quality production, Sean Penn stars in the film, and the movie glorifies a anti-establishment politician who is gay. The only thing missing from this movie to make it an Oscar lock is a beautiful actress making herself ugly or the actor going partial "retard."

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