Are Hurt Locker Foes Using Troops to Take Down the Oscar Front-Runner?
Another day brings another stumbling block for The Hurt Locker in its express route to Oscar glory. But unlike the idiotic, Avatar-bashing e-mail campaign that got one of its nominated producers in deep serious with the Academy (and may cost him his ceremony tickets, eventual Academy membership and/or worse), this matter has the distinct smell of awards-season dirty tricks.
In a curiously timed dispatch in the L.A. Times, a number of military veterans and bomb-defusing specialists alleged that Locker's treatment of life in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit was not only inaccurate but disrespectful:
Sgt. Eric Gordon of San Pedro, an Air Force EOD technician on his second tour in Iraq, has watched the movie a few times with his friends. "I would watch it with other EOD people, and we would laugh," Gordon said.
He scoffed at a scene in which a bomb is defused with wire cutters. "It's similar to having a firefighter go into a building with a squirt bottle," Gordon said.
An EOD team leader in Maysan province, Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Phillips, said, "My interest is bringing myself and my team members home alive, with all of our appendages in the right place."
Although he was glad the film highlighted their trade, he disliked the celluloid treatment of EOD units. "There is too much John Wayne and cowboy stuff. It is very loosely based on actual events," he said. "I'm honestly glad they are trying to convey to the public what we've been doing, and I wish maybe they had just done it with a little bit of a different spin on it," he said.
I'm not about to second-guess anyone in Iraq. But I'll totally second-guess the editors who seem to have left the "Additional reporting by Harvey Weinstein in Baghdad" credit off this story. Seriously: Why is this just coming out now? Moreover, look at the intensity of the LAT's coverage of Inglourious Basterds in recent weeks, then dig through the stack of not one, not two, not three, not four, but now five Hurt Locker takedowns at the same paper -- a pair of which say virtually the same thing: Their headlines hilariously ratchet the drama from "Will The Hurt Locker team be punished for breaking Oscar rules?" to "Could The Hurt Locker be disqualified from the Oscars because of an intemperate e-mail?" -- which even that story's author acknowledges could happen but won't.
Making matters weirder, the LAT actually was late to the troop story, piling its latest report on top of Tom O'Neil's alarmist item from Wednesday headlined, "The Hurt Locker accuracy questioned." There, O'Neil linked to Newsweek and the Associated Press, both of which offered two other conveniently timed Hurt Locker broadsides of their own from essentially unassailable sources on the front lines.
Again: Why is this all happening at once? Even if you wanted to argue that it's too little too late with ballots due Tuesday at 5 p.m., it's not as though Hurt Locker is some far-and-away favorite that can't be damaged and/or even surpassed with days to go, particularly with 10 nominees and the preferential ballot now in place. Hurt Locker's errant producer has shown us himself never to put anything past an Oscar campaigner -- and he's just a rookie. Just imagine what the veterans are capable of.