MY LETTER TO THE ACADEMY:
March 26, 2002
Frank Pierson, President
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Enclosed, please find copy of an article I wrote on the movie Hedwig And The Angry Inch. As you may be aware, this wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, let alone Best Actor or any of the other awards it deserved. Such is Life.
Still, the Academy should give up its snobby attitude and get back to the basics. Film is the most powerful form of Art in existence, one that combines all others and transforms Expression into Experience. Considering you head this Academy, I’m sure you realize this, for there’s no way someone would take on your responsibility simply because of prestige.
By praising only those movies produced by the Mainstream, you’re implying that such is the best of the crop. How many times have you heard “movies aren’t as good as they used to be” come from someone who remembers when the Great films were honored at your annual show?
You need to keep in mind that MOST people don’t look around for creative films, they just go by what they read in Rolling Stone or who gets an Oscar.
I honestly hope this finds you well, and ready to turn things around for the 75th Academy Awards. I look forward to seeing new faces at the Ceremony, not just pretty ones. I look forward to being introduced to something truly remarkable, some amazing movie that the Academy genuinely feels deserves recognition.
MR. PIERSON'S RESPONSE:
April 2, 2002
Mr. Jake McGee
Dear Mr. McGee:
I was pleased that you took the time to write us and set down your objections to our most recent show, although I have to confess that when I then read your review, and found out that you regarded me as both an ignorant swine and a complacent elitist, I was a shade less grateful for your efforts.
Before you bury me in a mass grave with all my fellow Academy members I would remind you that we have never thought of ourselves as perfect or the final judge of what is lasting art. Look at the year of 1939 for a demonstration of how human we are.
I happened to like HEDWIG, but then my judgment is clouded by having been one of Mitchell’s mentors at the Sundance Institute where (as I hope you know) he went to work through how to translate his staged musical into a movie. I personally would have liked to see John go up against Baz Luhrmann because I think John is better, deeper and funnier. And both explored fresh ways to approach musical film. Sadly, my fellow members didn’t see it that way. But I won’t sit by to see them insulted.
If you can bring yourself to watch our “foul ceremony” again next year, when you may not have quite so intense a rooting interest in one of the contenders, maybe you’ll have a more enjoyable experience.
I sure hope so.
Your concerned correspondent,