Wednesday, March 04, 2009

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”

When I read on the Internet the day after the Oscars that Heath Ledger had won the award for Best Supporting Actor I noticed that each article I read said that Ledger was the second person in Oscar history to win an award posthumously. My librarian brain immediately thought, “Hmmm, well then who was the first?” The answer was far less easy to find than I anticipated and conflicting information was presented to me by Google. I ended up consulting the Encyclopedia Britannica database we subscribe to and found my answer in one of their Spotlight sections (comprehensive guides to several different subjects, including photos, media, and much more) that focuses on the Oscars and includes all present and past winners, Oscar history, and more. Turns out Sydney Howard was the first person to win an Oscar posthumously for the screenplay of Gone With the Wind (1939) and Peter Finch was the first performer to win an Oscar posthumously for the movie Network (1976) making Ledger the second performer to win posthumously (not the 2nd person ever as claimed by many a website).

I was personally rooting for Ledger to win the Oscar and when I found out that Finch was one of the other posthumous winners, I was floored. In fact, just the night before I had watched Network for the first time. I knew nothing about the movie other than my boyfriend once saw the first half of it and thought we might enjoy it. The movie stars Robert Duvall, Peter Finch, and Faye Duanaway and it completely blew me away. The plot and characters were well developed, Peter Finch gave a superb performance, and it included one of the most arresting and emotional scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie (the title of this blog post is a quote from that scene). Not only that, but the movie also provided a biting commentary on the state of television and television news and the power TV has over American life. The themes in this movie have led me on a whole other pursuit exploring books with similar themes: television’s influence over America, the changes in television news programs intended to garner ratings, the corporate takeover of television, etc. Of course, the Austin Public Library has the books you and I need for this educational pursuit and practically any other:

Encyclopedia Britannica Database
(requires an Austin Public Library card)
To get to the Oscar spotlight mentioned above, log in with your library card number, scroll down toward the bottom of the page where it says "Featured Spotlight" and click on "Spotlight Archive". Choose "All About Oscar" from the list.

Network (DVD)

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News

Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media

How to Watch TV News

Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War

Viewer Discretion Advised:Taking Control of Mass Media Influences

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