A Tale of Two Ceremonies

“Milk,” the biopic starring Sean Penn about Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay elected official, perfectly illustrated the divide between “the people” and “the critics.”

Critics loved the movie, as evidenced by a 92 percent favorable rating on the aggregate film review site Rottentomatoes.com and the eight nominations “Milk” received from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Sean Penn received the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Milk, and the entire cast garnered the Best Acting Ensemble at last night's Critics Choice Awards ceremony.  

Given the controversy over the passage of California's Proposition 8 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, one would think a movie commemorating an early homosexual activist would garner more interest among moviegoers. 

But apparently that wasn't the case. Boxofficemojo.com reports that the film has earned only $17.7 million in the six weeks since its release. Not only that, the film failed to receive any nominations for the People's Choice Awards. Instead, “the people” awarded the summer blockbuster “The Dark Knight” seven nominations, five of which it won including Favorite Movie and Favorite Cast. 

And while celebrities kept the liberal posturing that appears at so many Hollywood events to a minimum, some just couldn't help themselves.  People's Choice host Queen Latifah led the audience in a chant of “Yes, we can!” during Wednesday's ceremony. Kerry Picket pointed out on Newsbusters that actor Richard Gere used his acceptance speech for the Joel Siegel award to bash President George W. Bush one more time last night:

We changed the world, and then something happened.  It all became selfish…and rancid…and silly…and stupid, and we ended up with the last eight years that we've had in this country, which is almost over.  We have a few days left, but with this new administration, I think we can recapture the innate instinctive feeling that we really can genuinely care for and love each other…everywhere on the planet.    

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.  Erin Brown is an intern at CMI.