As the televised awards ceremony nicknamed the "Oscars" ended, Jon Stewart read a letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lambasting the American people for being "out of touch" with Hollywood. Perhaps intending to use the publicity surrounding the awards ceremony to increase awareness of the general feeling of the Academy, the letter discussed at length the state of American culture and the importance of maintaining Tinseltown's "deeply-held values".
It is not yet known who penned the letter or who was responsible for having it read at the televised awards ceremony, but fingers of suspicion have been pointed at many, particularly those with well-known left-leaning political views. At this time, there has been no official word from anyone involved with the ceremony, although rumors and unofficial reports abound.
The specific content of the letter expressed concern with the direction of American values and mores. The letter asked America why it was suddenly returning to "antiquated notions" like "absolutes of right and wrong" and why so many Americans were becoming concerned with "imaginary concepts like ‘sin' and ‘morality'". The letter also reminded America "never to put anything ahead of tolerance" and to maintain those institutions "for which we in Hollywood have fought so hard and suffered so much", naming among these "no-fault divorce, free drug rehab" and "federal subsidies to struggling artists".
In addition to drawing attention to American culture and society, the letter questioned America's relationship with Hollywood and the movie business in general, warning Americans that "if you continue to buy tickets to films like ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe' and ‘Revenge of the Sith' whilst ignoring films we have seen fit to reward, such as ‘Capote' and ‘Brokeback Mountain', we may have to cease making such garbage altogether". The letter demanded that Americans watch better movies, and at one point even hinted that, if Americans did not start watching better films, the industry might boycott the viewing public completely.
The letter was foreshadowed by comments from a number of the award recipients, including George Clooney, who expressed satisfaction at the cultural divide separating Hollywood and the rest of America. The content of the films nominated also seemed to suggest that such a letter might have been coming, with many successful films going unrewarded and many controversial films nominated. In the words of film reviewer Steven D. Greydanus, it was a good year for "classy, left-leaning politically themed films", something which contrasts sharply with an America that has given the presidency and two houses of congress to the center-right GOP.
Commentary on the letter was mixed. Some saw it as a bold and courageous move by an embattled and long-suffering industry; others called it "stupid and hypocritical", suggesting that if Hollywood wants a fight, then America will oblige. It remains to be seen just how much impact this letter will have.