Saturday, January 17, 2009
By Nicholas Stix
On February 22, expect Sean Penn to win the Oscar for his biopic vehicle, Milk, about San Francisco homosexual activist-politician, Harvey Milk, who was slain while in office. (The nominees will be announced on Thursday.)
In 1977 Milk, who initially financed his activism through the photography shop he owned, was elected, on his third try, to the Board of Supervisors in the city by the bay. On November 27, 1978, he was assassinated by Dan White, a 32-year-old former policeman and fireman who had been elected to the Board together with Milk, and who opposed Milk’s radical politics.
As one reporter recounted in 1985, the policemen’s union, which backed White, saw the city becoming increasingly tolerant of crime, prostitution, and public, homosexual sex (the reporter used the euphemism, “open homosexuality”). In what I suppose made him a pervert and reactionary by today’s enlightened standards, Dan White opposed such depravity. At the time, however, most people did not consider his positions particularly “conservative.” Conversely, Milk was voted into office by the city’s aggressive, homosexual minority.
White (Josh Brolin): Society can’t exist without the family.
Milk (Sean Penn): We’re not against that.
White: Can two men reproduce?
Milk: No, but God knows we keep trying.
White quickly confessed to his crimes. The prosecution charged him with first-degree (premeditated) murder with special circumstances, and sought the death penalty.
In one of the unintentionally comical moments of American legal history, White’s defense attorney, Douglas R. Schmidt, crafted what has come to be known as the “Twinky Defense.” Schmidt argued that, due to elevated blood sugar levels, caused by having ingested too much of the eponymous, sugary junk food, White had suffered from “diminished capacity,” and thus was not capable of premeditation. Combined with White’s own tearful testimony at trial, the Twinky Defense got him a conviction for mere voluntary manslaughter. The trial judge sentenced White to seven years and eight months in prison, the maximum for that crime; White served slightly more than five years, and then was on parole for one year.
San Francisco’s homosexual activists and their allies responded to the verdict by rioting, 5,000 strong, during which over 100 people, including 80 policemen, were wounded.
Sean Penn will be given the Oscar for Best Actor, not because of his performance, although I’ll bet he’s wonderful (I have yet to see the picture), but because of his politics.
That’s the way Hollywood works these days, and Penn understands that. He has spent years developing a resume of leftwing mala fides to prove his hatred for America—whether real or feigned, only he knows—because he understands that that weighs more heavily with Academy voters than artistic merit. He will also benefit from the politics surrounding Milk, which was released just after California voters had passed Prop. 8, which bans gay marriage. Prop. 8 was the people's response to the California Supreme Court’s attempt to force the practice on voters, in violation of the California State Constitution. It passed, in spite of massive homosexual resistance, largely thanks to black voters. The film was released in the midst of a gay hate offensive directed against donors to the Prop. 8 campaign.
In 1996, Susan Sarandon won the Best Actress Oscar, ostensibly for her performance as Sister Helen Prejean, in Dead Man Walking, which was based on Prejean’s anti-death penalty book, and scripted and directed by Sarandon’s longtime, live-in comrade, Tim Robbins.
Penn was nominated for Best Actor as Dead Man’s protagonist, rapist-murderer “Matthew Poncelet,” a composite character drawn from two guilty-as-hell killers, whom Prejean had counseled on Death Row. The movie was apparently supposed to change people’s minds about the death penalty, but since even the picture depicted the Poncelet character as being guilty as hell, if anything, it served as an advertisement for capital punishment.
While Penn gave a bravura performance, not only did Sarandon not deserve the statuette, she hadn’t even deserved the nomination. The highlight of her performance as Sister Helen was to sit and listen to death row convict Poncelet, while wearing a concerned look.
Sarandon, a likeable if often shallow actress, got her fifth Best Actress nomination, and finally her Oscar, because she was America’s sexiest, comeliest communist.
To fully appreciate the obscenity of Sarandon’s Oscar, one must see who was cheated on her behalf. That same year, in The Bridges of Madison County, Meryl Streep had given what endures, for my money, as the greatest movie performance ever by a lead actress.
(Prior to Bridges, I had considered two female lead performances to be tied for the greatest: Vivien Leigh, in Gone with the Wind (1939) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).)
To give you a notion of just how weak Sarandon’s performance was, let’s compare it to a similar sort of scene from a different work.
During “Mr. Roberts,” a 1999 episode of the then great TV series, NYPD Blue (the last year that writer-producer David Milch, who worked on the episode, was on board), doomed former detective squad member, Mike Roberts (Michael Harney), visits with Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) in the squad room bathroom. Roberts, who had been bounced off the force for having an affair with a junky-prostitute-informant who ended up dead, now works as the seediest of private detectives. The scene consists of the desperate Roberts, in mortal peril from his present employer, pouring his heart out to Sipowicz.
Michael Harney’s Roberts will break your heart. And yet, in contrast to Dead Man Walking, where Sean Penn dominates the scene in question, the largely silent Dennis Franz dominates the scene in NYPD Blue. Now, that’s acting!
As the old actor’s saw goes, “Don’t just do something, stand around!”
In the matter of November 27, 1978, there is a largely forgotten man whom I must recall. Dan White assassinated two men that day, of whom Harvey Milk was the second. White’s primary target was leftist San Francisco mayor, George Moscone.
The buildup started with White’s resignation from the Board, stating that the $9,600 salary was inadequate for him to support his wife and baby boy, and that he didn’t like the seamy realities of politics that he’d experienced. White’s police union backers then pressured him into rescinding his resignation, but Moscone refused to re-seat him, and had already decided, with Milk’s support, to replace White with another leftist. That’s when White formulated his plan to kill both men. Indeed, the day White murdered them, Moscone was set to name his replacement.
Dan White was released from California’s notorious Soledad State Prison on January 6, 1984. On October 22, 1985, he took his own life, via carbon monoxide asphyxiation. He was 39 years old, and left behind his wife and three young children. He left a note, apologizing for the grief his suicide would cause, but never expressed remorse for the murders he had committed.
Douglas R. Schmidt responded to his client’s suicide, “We've said all along there were three victims in this. Today Dan White became the third victim.”
But there were only two victims: George Moscone and Harvey Milk. Dan White was no victim; he was the perpetrator.
When White committed suicide, the New York Times headline didn’t even mention Milk: “DAN WHITE, KILLER OF SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR, A SUICIDE.”
How, in the intervening 23 years, did the murder of a city supervisor become of world-historical significance, while the murder of the mayor became a mere footnote, considered so insignificant by some of the politically correct, that they don’t even bother spelling his name right? For the answer, go ask Hollywood, or your local gay activist.