The Oscars Revisited

2015 Adademy Awards - NPHForgive me, but I can’t leave the Oscar telecast alone. First and foremost, the Oscars continue to lose an attachment with the general public by spending time on awards significant to the industry but meaningless to everyone else.

Like it or not, no one really cares who won the Oscars for “Best Makeup and Hair Styling”, “Best Sound Mixing” or “Best Production Design”, nor does anyone want to listen to acceptance speeches where everyone proceeds to thank their wife and children.  Clearly, if these awards were simply deferred to the pre-telecast ceremony done off screen, closer attention could be paid to the major awards where viewers are not forced to stay awake till past midnight.

Furthermore, the Oscars made an incredible mistake years ago by excluding the “Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award” during the telecast itself.  For years we had the pleasure of watching aging performers like Cary Grant receive overdue Oscar recognition, and this year we were denied the benefit of listening to Harry Belafonte live and on stage.

Yet as a criminal defense lawyer, I was appalled watching the Oscar ceremony when the widow of Chris Kyle, the focus of “American Sniper”, appeared on the red carpet.  While this was happening, a veteran was on trial in Texas for killing her husband and this shameless promotion would have served to destroy any hope that veteran had of receiving a fair trial.

As I sat in front of the TV shaking my head, I was also reminded of the fact that some of the jurors in that trial admitted seeing Eastwood’s film.  Given that the movie has resonated around the country with Kyle being painted as an American hero, how you can tell me that the jury set aside this emotional attachment and reached a fair verdict?

This defendant has now been convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.  With many veterans suffering mental and emotional disorders, it is apparent that our Government’s standard on whether they are praised or imprisoned is determined by who they kill.  That remains the tragedy lurking in the shadows of American Sniper.