It's that time of year again, the silly season in Hollywood, with its parade of awards shows.
We had the Golden Globes on Sunday, and the Critics Choice Awards will be held January 12, to be followed by the Screen Actors Guild, then the BAFTAs, and finally the Academy Awards.
All of this glitz and glamour is presumably based on the fact that if, say, Willem Dafoe nabs a Best Supporting Actor award, a whole slew of people who have yet to see "The Lighthouse" will now run out and see this black-and-white art flick.
How the awards hype actually helps Netflix, which already has over 150 million global subscribers, is a bit beyond me. Which doesn’t change the fact that the movie streaming giant is loving all the attention Martin Scorsese’s "The Irishman" is getting. The gangster flick is favored to win a slew of awards and is among the top favorites for the biggest prize of all, the Oscar for Best Picture.
Sandwiched in between the BAFTA awards on February 2 (which also happens to be Super Bowl Sunday) and the Oscars on February 9 is another important popularity contest—the Iowa Democratic caucuses on February 3.
So there is a good chance all this showbiz hype is going to get tangled up in the 2020 presidential race.
Speaking of, The Wall Street Journal recently had an exchange that I think Trump supporters in swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan should take a real close look at.
Irish American columnist Peggy Noonan swooned over "The Irishman," comparing its director to one of the great Irish American artists of all time.
Read more: Why Scorcese’s The Irishman disappoints
“As I watched 'The Irishman,'” wrote Noonan, “I felt an ache, a kind of grief sneaking up on me, and toward the end, I thought I knew why. I realized: I am watching John Ford’s 'Cheyenne Autumn.' I am watching a great artist say goodbye to a world he knew, the world in which he’d risen, a particular kind of America.
“This is an artist’s farewell to his great subject. For Ford, America’s greatest movie director, it was the settlers who pushed West and the American Indians who lived there. It was his coming to terms with their suffering and his treatment of it.”
For, Scorsese, of course, it is the Irish and Italian hoods who populate his best work, from 'Mean Streets' and 'Goodfellas' right up to 'The Irishman.'
Noonan’s column prompted a fascinating series of responses, among them, this from one James Phelan of Cedar Knolls, New Jersey.
“Peggy Noonan’s comparison of Martin Scorsese films with those of John Ford is almost like comparing Al Capone and Lucky Luciano to Daniel Boone and Kit Carson. John Ford’s films epitomize the noble cause of all of the common hardworking folks who contributed to building this nation, their difficulties, trials and the somewhat circuitous route required to bring justice to the frontier,” Phelan wrote.
Not so for Scorsese, who, Phelan declares, “overly romanticizes the parasites of our society.” While Ford “glorifies those who built this great country,” Scorsese “showcases those who tear it down.”
I can’t quite say if Phelan is a MAGA kind of guy. And I suspect some Native Americans might have a slightly different take on John Ford’s “heroes.“
Still, this letter should be read by Trump voters, especially the “build the wall” chanters. These folks are not uniformly rural, redneck Ku Klux Klanners.
They are often the suburban offspring of Ellis Island immigrants, who cling to the tired old claim that their beloved grandma and grandpa came to the U.S. to work hard and behave, while today’s immigrants are all naughty freeloaders. If the cinematic career of Scorsese does nothing else, it reminds us that yesterday’s immigrants weren’t always so well behaved.
And that if we’d built a wall to keep out the Irish and Italian “parasites,” (as many WASP bigots wanted to do) your beloved grandma and grandpa may never have had a chance to come to America to work so hard and behave so well.
(Contact “Sidewalks” at tdeignan.blogspot.com)