By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. His Twitter feed is http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller
Obama had a brief appearance on the Oscars, and received no applause from an audience that surely would have treated him differently two years ago. The politics of the night belonged to Charles Ferguson, who won the Oscar for Best Documentary for Inside Job. He said at the end of his acceptance speech:
Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that’s wrong.”
Ferguson has a very mild manner, but he is utterly fearless. He wants prosecutions, and he used one of the biggest stages in the world to ask for them. Ferguson has gone after the Obama administration and spares no one, as when he called Eric Holder and Andrew Cuomo “partners in crime.
Ouch. There were several shout-outs to unions tonight, including the one by “Inception” cinematographer Wally Pfister. Backstage, he said:
“I think that what is going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now,” Pfister says. “I have been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family. They have given me health care in a country that doesn’t provide health care and I think unions are a very important part of the middle class in America all we are trying to do is get a decent wage and have medical care.”
Hollywood was torn apart by a strike a few years ago, so this is not surprising.
Ferguson really stood up and made his case. It would be interesting if people started asking President Obama, Attorney General Holder, current New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, former Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and others in power where they think he’s gone wrong.
Update (by Yves) 3:00 AM: Curious, no mention of Inside Job in the New York Times’ story on the Oscars, when they did mention the foreign language film, makeup and best score recipients.