1st March 1999

WHAM! BAM! NO THANK YOU KAZAN! Elia Kazan Sucks! It’s an Oscar Outrage!

posted in `Roids |

A Call To Social Action From The Troma Team

WARNING TO FAITHFUL READERS!

Do not read further if you do not plan to act on what you read! This is not Kaufman’s usual brand of street corner rabble rousing. On this occasion, he has refrained from inserting crass plugs for his own movies or resorting to excessively ribald humor. This essay deals with a topic about which Kaufman feels so strongly that he is actually going to do something. Kaufman plans to use his excessive hot air to power a balloon to take him to Los Angeles on the night of the Oscars to protest an egregious offense. The following is a plea for the sympathetic to join him in his protest (both in the written word and on street level) against “the evil among us”.


On Sunday March 21st, the Hollywood elite will gather at that toilet bowl otherwise known as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the 71st Academy Awards. On this, the one day out of the year that film industry insiders pretend not to hate each other, they waste it breaking their arms to pat their own backs. This year the clever folks behind the Oscar ceremony have something especially obscene planned. It is not enough that they intend to bore all who attend (and the countless innocent millions left watching at home) to tears, but they plan to insult these many viewers’ intelligence by honoring one of Hollywood’s great turncoats, Elia Kazan. It seems only fitting that Hollywood has finally given this greatest of traitors its highest honor, recognizing him as the prototype for the multitude of scumbags that now clutter and clog the industry. The Troma Team, led by yours truly, is finally doing something about it. This essay is to be followed by a fearsome demonstration outside this year’s Oscars – and we need your help.

It is nearly inexpressible how inappropriate this award is. Nevertheless, I will try. Kazan was one of the only major talents in the film industry who, when called before the House Un-American Activities Committee [1], named names. When asked if they knew of anyone in Hollywood who was or had ever been a Communist, many others refused to do what Kazan did. Either by using some form of evasion – lying being the most popular – or by standing up and expressing their outrage at the evil nature of such a question, many others managed to avoid Kazan’s moral foundering. John Ford, Kirk Douglas and many others bravely defied the elitist forces of oppression while maintaining very successful careers

Kazan, however, buckled like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in a hurricane force wind, spilling secrets and confidences like a tumbler filled with secrets and confidences. Kazan the Collaborator saved his own ass while burning the asses of others. Forgetting for a moment that being a communist has never been a crime (even in post-WWII America) and that he offered no proof other than rumor, it is clear that Kazan had one cause in mind – himself. His lifetime achievement was that in one fell swoop he helped ruin the careers and the lives of many hard working Americans, while setting an example for the perverted code of loyalty and conduct that dominates not only this industry but much of this culture today.

What is even more puzzling than the bestowal of this award is the complete absence of righteous rage emanating from the “esteemed members” of the Academy. A community that prides itself on a long tradition of supporting liberal and progressive agendas and abhorrence of any and all forms of censorship has been disturbingly silent. The Alan Aldas and the Ed Asners seem to have been quiet; I don’t believe Barbra Streisand, who couldn’t be shut up about every imagined or implied injustice before she got herself a real man [2], has made a sound. I guess being a professional Clinton asskiss is as far as she’ll stick her prominent proboscis into politics these days.

Hollywood has always been strongly opposed to McCarthyism (Invasion of the Body Snatchers; that Woody Allen movie with Zero Mostel, The Front; Guilty by Suspicion) and yet cannot find a reason to raise an objection or a voice with which to do it. The cynical reason that they do not speak is simple. No one will dare speak up against the almighty god that is “the Academy”. Despite the fact that most of these stars are so rich that they would never have to work a day in their life no matter what, they don’t dare bite the hand that feeds the fame to which they are so addicted. This is almost too depressing to believe…

One even more frightening prospect is that they do not even appreciate the contradiction. Their hubris, their eventual undoing lies in their inability to view themselves as they are, and not how their adoring public sees them. Kazan himself has never seen fit to apologize for his misguided acts of “patriotism”. Being wrong means never saying you’re sorry.

The Academy Awards began as the result of a need to battle censorship. Hollywood’s reputation had received a severe ass kicking in the wake of the Fatty Arbuckle [3] scandal and needed the good press and legitimacy to publicly rehabilitate what was becoming their “tawdry profession”. What began as a good idea has now become an embarrassment of epic proportions. The culmination of this is when a suppressor of free speech (Kazan) is bestowed an award by an organization supposedly dedicated to its protection.

This glorification/sanitization of Kazan is indicative of a larger problem which has intensified as its scope has widened. Today, if a filmmaker is not in bed with Disney/ABC or a very few other megaconglomerates, he/she does not get shit. (In Kazan’s day, at least independent films had a viable chance in the marketplace.) Truly independent films don’t get squat in terms of wide theatrical release and even less in the realm of video (see: Blockbuster). This incestuous circles grows ever tighter in a situation that threatens to get worse as moral conditions worsen. Kazan knew this and continues to profit from the knowledge today. Those in the industry fear ostracizing so much that they will keep quiet even in the face of great moral wrong (Kazan in the 50s; those who silently countenance his award today).

Giving Kazan this award is the type of preposterous sham to which we have become all too accustomed recently. The Lifetime Award is often the only genuine moment in a ceremony that moves at glacial speed [4] and is overstuffed with bullshit [5]. Kazan has already won an Oscar and does not need a second. Better to give a lifetime achievement award to someone whose life he ruined or to someone who struck out against the blacklist, like the recently deceased Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was the ultimate outsider and, because of it, never won an Oscar. I believe he was so disheartened by the news of Kazan’s ill gotten gains that he checked himself out this past week.

We must make a difference in some small way and do our best to stop the award to Kazan. Let the Academy know we recognize and do not appreciate the tack they have been taking. Let them know we are on to their conspiratorial ways. Join Toxie, Kabukiman and the Troma Team in a protest outside the Oscars on March 21st, 1999. We will be outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion all that day to protest the message sent to the world by this year’s Oscars. Let them know that you know what they are up to.


1. House Un-American Activities Committee was established in the late 1940s and thrived through the 1950s with the express purpose of rooting out sop-called subversive elements in American culture. Their witch hunt spanned far and wide, using tactics like fear and reprisal to panic the nation into supporting their narrow crusade.

2. That dreamy transmission salesman James Brolin, who looks better without a beard and naturally gray.

3. Wildly popular comedian of silent era-drummed out of show business in the wake of a statutory rape scandal/morals witch hunt.

4. And sometimes hit an iceberg, as with James Cameron’s Titanic speeches last year.

5. See James Cameron’s Titanic speeches last year.


Tell us what you think! The response has been amazing . People from all over the world have been writing to us to give The Troma Team words of support. If you want to have your voice be heard we encourage you to WRITE TO US HERE. Even if you can not be with us on the front lines, knowing you are with us in spirit is just as important!

There is currently one response to “WHAM! BAM! NO THANK YOU KAZAN! Elia Kazan Sucks! It’s an Oscar Outrage!”

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  1. 1 On March 22nd, 2008, B said:

    LLoyd is one of the few who tell it like it is!

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