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In 1989, when Poland held its most significant voting since World War II, the striving Solidarity party used a picture of Gary Cooper as Marshal Will Kane in "High Noon" with a ballot in his hand and the Solidarity logo on his vest as its central campaign image.The result was a strong showing for the party and the beginning of the end for Poland's dominant Communists.And while it remains to be seen how politically charged this year’s Oscars ceremony will become, there are few platforms bigger than the Academy Awards stage from which to send a message.One thing seems safe to predict: Come Oscar night, if “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda — a best song nominee for the film “Moana” — has the chance to share his political point of view with an audience of millions, he’s not throwing away his shot.Last Sunday, after millions marched in protests around the world — including stars such as Scarlett Johansson, America Ferrera, Janelle Monae and Madonna — Trump amplified this notion, tweeting “Celebs hurt cause badly.”The fact that Trump is himself, in many ways, a creature of the entertainment industry, able to leverage his own celebrity and skills as a showman, makes him that much more formidable an adversary.There are those, such as filmmaker Ava Du Vernay, who believe that the best way to resist the new president is to simply concentrate on creating work that reflects their own values.“I refuse to spend the next four years living in that man’s head,” Du Vernay told The Times recently at an event in Los Angeles celebrating her Oscar-nominated documentary about race and the criminal justice system, “13th.”“One day it’s Meryl Streep, the next it’s [Rep.] John Lewis,” said the filmmaker, who also directed the 2014 civil rights drama “Selma.” “If I spend my time focusing on that spectacle of distraction, it will diminish me.I don't think it's too much to say that the movies were key in creating the cultural forces that made voting for Donald Trump seem like a fine idea.
That’s actually the worst thing that can happen to you.”The fact is, as the Women’s March last weekend made clear, resistance to Trump has become something of a crusade for many on the left.’”Some in Hollywood have embraced the chance to stake out full-throated opposition to Trump, establishing a new beachhead in the latest flare-up of the culture wars that had largely quieted during the Obama years.That Trump drew fire for his comments on women and minorities throughout the campaign has, for many, changed the calculus of celebrity activism, making speaking out a moral imperative.That movie-inspired poster, Solidarity leader Lech Walesa said, "has become the emblem of the battle we fought together." So it's not much of a stretch to imagine the FBI's Comey choosing to see himself in the Gary Cooper mold as he contemplated his course of action, a believer in duty and honor insistent on doing the right thing though everyone else in the small town that is Washington, D. Because whether we are aware of it or not, we often look to the movies to tell us who we are, to reinforce our actions and provide shortcuts that help us categorize and make sense of an increasingly complex world.As far as understanding the mood of the voters headed to election day, look no further than Peter Finch's fed-up newscaster Howard Beale in Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet's prescient 1976 "Network," encouraging everyone to open their windows and scream, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."So who were voters in this unhappy mood going to select?
What I need to do is to live fully, move forward and make the art that I want to make.”Not that that will stop awards show hosts from going after Trump — for them, the president is simply too big and juicy a target to resist.