Monday, February 16, 2009

The (USM) Academy Awards

West Point Cadets pick gay Hero, Harvey Milk

With all the awards being thrown about in the month of January, West Point’s 2nd Annual Cadet Choice Award could easily have gone unnoticed, except for several of their nominations. The Award was set up last year to “celebrate the character’s display of leadership and the West Point values of Duty, Honor and Country.” Last year Will Smith won for his performance as the last man on earth in I Am Legend. But this year, the list seems both obvious and odd. Among the standard men of action are Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in The Dark Knight, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) in Valkyrie, and Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But the other two picks seem strange for different reasons. John Hancock (Will Smith) in Hancock is a superhero, but a messy alcoholic one at that. And Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) in Milk was certainly an American leader and a cultural hero, but he was also an openly gay leader pushing others to come out. As such the choice of Harvey Milk seems to collide head on with the Army’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and certainly runs counter to the opinion of such military leaders as Marine Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Staffs, who proclaimed that, “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts.” But the Cadets obviously feel differently, and that is change we can all believe in.

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