The Right Opinion

Regarding False Idols

By Burt Prelutsky · Jan. 7, 2013

When the Bible refers to false idols, it has a plethora of pagan gods in mind. The ones I'm referring to rest on mantels all over Hollywood, while the others reside in the White House.

Since 1928, when the World War I sky drama, “Wings,” won the first Oscar for Best Picture of the Year, 83 other movies have followed suit. I have seen all but seven of them, which even I find more than a little frightening. In my own defense, I will state that I reviewed movies for about a dozen years, so a lot of the viewing was work-related.

In my opinion, most of those movies were mediocre at best, coma-inducing at worst. But I have always contended that when it comes to judging movies, all that anyone is entitled to is an honest, but subjective, opinion. If you sit through, say, “Titanic,” and find it exciting, there's no way on earth that I'm going to convince you that it was duller than watching grass grow.

What I did sense about the movies that the Motion Picture Academy has chosen to honor year after year is that they tend to be very, very long, as if the voting members, for reasons I can't fathom, insist on confusing length with quality.

With that in mind, I decided to look into it. And sure enough, my instincts were right. Because the decade was nearly over before they started handing out Oscars, there were only two winning movies in the 1920s. Besides “Wings,” which ran 144 minutes, there was “The Broadway Melody,” which came in at just 100 minutes. That means, they averaged out to 122 minutes, or just slightly over two hours.

In the 30s, the average soared to 138.3 minutes. In fact, it wouldn't be until 1955 that a movie shorter than “The Broadway Melody” would win. That would be “Marty,” which ran a sprightly hour and a half.

In the 1940s, the average length would dip to 125.8 minutes; in the 1950s, in spite of “Marty,” the average would shoot back up to 138.2, thanks to the 212-minute slogathon known as “Ben-Hur.” The 1960s averaged 146 minutes, mainly due to “Lawrence of Arabia” eating up 216 minutes on the clock, with four musicals, “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Sound of Music” and “Oliver!” all lasting more than two-and-a-half hours.

In the 1970s and 1980s, running times dipped a bit to 141.2 and 140.7, respectively. But the 1990s set a new record, averaging 154.5 minutes, with “Schindler's List,” “Titanic,” “Dances with Wolves” and “Braveheart,” averaging out at a brain-numbing three hours and seven minutes.

With the start of a new century, the average dropped to 137.2 minutes in spite of “The Lord of the Rings” (201 Minutes), “Gladiator” (155) and “The Departed” (151).

In nearly perfect symmetry, there have been only two winners thus far in the present decade, “The King's Speech” and “The Artist,” two fine movies that came in at a reasonable 118 minutes and 100 minutes, respectively. Only time will tell if we have entered an enlightened age, but Hollywood, being what it is, I wouldn't bet on it.

This brings us to those other false idols, the ones who presently call the White House home.

Even people who have never set foot in Great Britain are aware of the endless complaints about the cost of maintaining the Royal Family. Converted from the English pound, the annual expense of keeping these blokes in crumpets is approximately $57 million.

No matter how anti-royalist an Englishman may be, it would be hard for him to argue that the pageantry that goes with having the la-di-dahs around doesn't bring in several multiples of that paltry figure in tourist dollars.

Here in the States, on the other hand, maintaining the Obamas is estimated to run roughly $1.4 billion dollars a year, and understand I'm not referring to his loony economic policies.

It's true that the cost of picking up the tab for any president and his family is mind-blowing when you factor in White House operating expenses; maintaining the grounds; health care that includes a traveling medical staff and equipment; the Secret Service; and the White House Communications Agency. But in the case of the Obamas, you also have to add in their numerous and extremely expensive vacations for family and friends; and, lest we forget, $311 million in unreimbursed campaign expenses, which included scores of cross-country jaunts on Air Force One for fund-raising events and those nifty black buses he used in Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

A few years ago, Newsweek compared Obama to FDR, even going so far as to picture Obama on its cover sporting a homburg and with a cigarette holder jutting out at a jaunty angle from between his teeth.

Now, after four years of a stagnant economy; an unemployment rate that's in single digits only because so many people, out of sheer frustration, have removed themselves from the work force; and with the nation perched on the edge of a recession and record inflation; it's clear that the president he most closely resembles is Herbert Hoover, with just a dash of Jimmy Carter.

In conclusion, I will only say that if I was upset with all those epic-length movies, and I was, especially when I added up the running times of the 77 Oscar winners I had actually sat through, and realized they ate up the equivalent of eight entire days and nights, you can imagine how I feel about sitting through eight years of what might best be called “Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.”


View all comments


Howard Last in Wyoming said:

Burt, Barry most resembles FDR. FDR was Joe Stalin's best friend. Barry wants to/and is emulating both of them. FDR and Barry have/had the same fiscal policies. All three were/are liars, some better than others. Both Barry and FDR got reelected when the Republic was/is in dire financial straits. And they both caused most of the financial problems. Both needed/need an economics course. All three wanted gun bans, and for the same reason, to control their subjects (note I did not say citizens). FDR's gun bans went in affect in 34, Barry wants his this year.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Howard: To be fair, FDR gave better speeches. But, then, he had better writers.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:12 AM

G. Daylan in Peoria, IL said:

Did "The Wizard of Oz" win any Oscars? It should have because in it I find the most accurate description of Progressive political operatives. I am also not sure of its length but it never fails to amuse me.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 3:00 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY replied:

L. Frank Baum did indeed criticize the politics of his time in all of his Oz Series books. As a side note, they are quiet enjoyable to read, when you need a break from the travails of this world.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

G. Daylan: "The Wizard of Oz" was nominated for a lot of Oscars (movie, cinematography, interior decoration, special effects), but the only ones it won were Best Song--"Over the Rainbow," Best Original Score and a special one for Judy Garland. Its director won the Oscar that year, but it was for "Gone With the Wind." As for its length, it ran a sprightly 101 minutes.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:20 AM

BlueShadowII in Texas said:

Shouldn't you have included, for the sake of comparison, the average length of Oscar-nominees that did not win and the average length of all movies in each decade?

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Blue Shadow: And leave nothing for you to do? I'm not that kind of guy.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:21 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:


Couple of quick thoughts.

1) An idol, can be anything that takes one away from seeking God, if it has become one's main passion in life. This is not to say that we cannot seek interest in other aspects of life, but, anything that is put before our Creator is by His definition an idol. Such are my dos centavos on that topic

2) The unemployment numbers. As you are most likely aware, one of the mandates of O-Care, was to give, via govmint fiat, a promotion of sorts. They have, through their infinite, (or should I say finite) economic wisdom decreed that all employees that work 30 hours or more would now be considered Full Time employees. This was done so as to force employers to cover said employees with health care. However, I suspect they also did it to contest conservative claims that the "underemployed" that is PT workers, are not counted nor factored into the total unemployment numbers. More fuzzy math to keep the numbers artificially low.

BTW, as a side note, employers and companies have responded by cutting hours of the aforementioned above, (such as myself), we are not only paying more out in Payroll taxes, but are grossing less in the paychecks overall. Nice going liberals! Just keep on helping the little man! I don't think they saw that coming. Additionally, less gross, less tax revenue for them. (true math). I look for my taxes to increase again within the next four years, when the govmint purse hits them in the face.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY replied:

Quick addendum to my comment:

My spouse and I had an interesting conversation right after the first paychecks we both received this month:

She - Did you see less in your paycheck
Me - Yes payroll taxes went up, so mine was about 2-3 bucks less, but yeah it was less
She - Mine was ten dollars. Wow, who would have figured that the government thinks we're so rich.....

I look for more of the same in the near future...

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Doktor: Their solution, as usual, will be to keep printing money.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:23 AM

enemaofthestatistquo in Monroe,GA replied:

They keep printing money, but I ask has any one seen any more money personally? Who gets it? What is it used for? Where does it go? How do I get some? 8*))

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Flayer in Cupertino, CA. replied:

Once you accept the "premise" that the Feds can mandate that a employer/company pay for health insurance (note I didn't say health "care") then is is only a matter of minor adjustments made by a nameless regulatory agency to change a minor "rule" (not law) from 30 hours to 20 to 10 to all. This is how the "discrepancy" will be deemed resolved by the Sec. Of Health Kathleen Sebelius, who now holds ALL the cards according to Obamacare.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

Hollywood slobbers all over themselves when they award the idols. I would consider it torture much worse than waterboarding to be forced to watch any award show that Hollywood has for themselves. These brain dead idiots think themselves enlightened, I find them for the most depraved and sick.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

wjm: If you think you hate them now, try watching the Oscars once in a while.You'll reach levels you never imagined.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:24 AM

Flayer in Cupertino, CA. replied:

I'm often surprised by just how inarticulate some of our movie stars are, even their ability to read an index card introducing the list of candidates. They often stumble over reading a card in their hand!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

I'm praying, every day, for the real-life drama---Requiem for Engels, and his band of Socialist renegades! Let their hubris, Lord, be their own downfall. Taxes raised on every American-first time in twenty years---Good Show smelly rat progressives!

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Patrick in Houston said:

I think with two minors changes "Titanic" could have been really deserving of an Oscar, namely:
1. that the hero and heroine had not survived beyond the opening credits,
2. then we could have watched 30 minutes of special effects showing the ship sinking and then gone home.

My vote for worst Oscar award winner is "The English Patient". I could have read the Houston phone book for three hours and had a better time...

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

I've managed to miss that one so far, but I have suffered through both "Terms of Endearment" and "American Beauty" once each. Those are my two candidates for worst "Best" pictures.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Patrick in Houston replied:

When it comes to insipid dullness, "The English Patient" is "Terms of Endearment" on steroids...

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Patrick: I would certainly have preferred your version of "Titanic. There have been a great many really awful winners of the Best Picture Oscar, but "The English Patient" is certainly up there with the worst of them.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:27 AM

rab in jo,mo said:

During my 9-year exile to SoCal ('93-'01), it became apparent to me that there were a great many people there that worship the god of Mammon. Hollywood goes to great lengths to propogate this idolatry.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

rab: Mammon is pretty popular in most places; perhaps it's just slightly more obvious out here. But, as I have pointed out in the past, greed is always a sin limited to other people.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Honest Abe in North Carolina said:

Hollywood and DC rely on the stupidity of the masses and they are rarely disappointed. Hollywood has its selected idols make a two-hour eye-popper, win upteen pre-determined phony awards presented with plenty of fanfare and glitz, sit back and wait for their millions of dedicated sycophants trot out like automatrons and fill their coffers with $30 theater tickets. In the case of DC, the politicial intelligentsia create the same phony icon, give him a few meaningless awards, have him spout empty promises to guarantee a phoney heaven on earth, and then borrow trillions from our enemies and raise real taxes on the backs of hard-working people to pay for it. The political intelligentsia love it because they know the masses will keep them in power as long as they can make them think some other smuck will be paying for their tickets. The DC and Hollywood racketeers have it made!

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

"Hollywood and DC rely on the stupidity of the masses .." is right.

Obama supporters are shocked! that their taxes are going up...

You can't fix stupid.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

It's not honest, Abe, to claim that movie tickets cost $30. The actual price is bad enough.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:30 AM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

I apologize, Burt. I hear from others of exorbidant prices so thirty dollars is probably too much for two people nowadays. My wife and I have not been to a movie house for so long I have no idea what they charge.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 2:56 PM

enemaofthestatistquo in Monroe,GA replied:

"give him a few meaningless awards" like a Nobel Peace Prize, now shared with such as: ALGore, & Yassar Arafat.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

My wife and I haven't been in a movie theater in 25 years. The last time we went was with our daughter to see a cartoon movie. If there is one we think we might enjoy we wait until it comes out on DVD and is $5 at Walmart. I'm reading a book about FDR at the present time. He certainly was not the hero the Progressives have made him out to be. If WWII had not come along the country would have sank back into recession. Probably why he did everything possible to get us into the war.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Old Sarge: It was a war worth fighting. But it's true about FDR needing the war to get us out of the Depression, which he prolonged with his idiotic fiscal policies. Obama learned that lesson all too well.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:32 AM

tdrag in South Carolina replied:

Sarge, I would suggest "Freedom's Forge" by Arthur Herman. An excellent read about how we mobilized to fight the Axis in spite of FDr and his Red pals.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

tdrag, Thanks for the info. I'll see if its in the local library.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Including the warnings about Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Cowboy in San Antonio said:

My bladder won't take sitting still for more than maybe 1.5 hours,max., and I hate it that our only local theater has seat rows that you can access from only one end. The other end is a wall, so if you sit next to the wall (like coming in just before the movie starts) you get to climb over 12 people to go to the bathroom or buy a rip-off priced snack. I very rarely see a movie that is well written and well acted. In fact, my groans usually start about the time the dialog starts. Plots are non-existent or infantile (all action movies), the acting is extremely amateur (all romantic films), and the rest seem to think that the longer the movie, the better. Many should have stopped at about 60 minutes, regardless. What kills me is my wife asklng me why certain things that should have occurred in the film did not, and why certain things occurred that should not have. She, (like most) seems to believe that movies are non-fiction.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

wjm, Old Sarge & BO, my thoughts exactly. I have not been to a movie in over 20 years. I have more important things to do, like rearrange my sock draw. Why does a movie take 2 hours and more to say something that could be said in a few seconds. Most movie actors if they fell would get lost before they hit the ground. There is another good reason not to go to movies, in many you can't protect yourself (think Aurora).

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Ragweed in West Virginia replied:

Howard - Whether I can or not doesn't matter, because I will..... if I ever decide to go into another theatre. I just purchased a new pocket filler, and it will go with me regardless of what the theatre management has to say about it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Bo: As a public service, I will devote a column one of these days to my all-time favorite movies. It will probably surprise some people that the list will include a number of them that have been produced over the past 20-25 years.
But I think you would do well to grab seats on the aisle and let other people have to walk in front of you to get to the bathroom. Perhaps you could even charge them a toll if you're big enough to get away with it.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:35 AM

Old Desert Rat in Las Vegas, NV said:

The current residents of the White House are disgusting by their ideologies, behavior, and insensitivity to the country's pain. You are spot on, as usual. To think that this man has a Nobel prize is even more disgusting. So, evidently, the Nobel committee joins Hollywood in LaLaLand decision-making. Their wanton spending is consistent with every despot of history. These stories do not usually end well.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

ODR: Keep in mind that the Prize he has is the Peace Prize. There's more honor connected to winning a Cupie Doll at the State Fair, especially when you realize that other recipients have included Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Yasser Arafat.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:37 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Hm-m, I believe the reason many people go to the movies is to be mind-numbed. It's escape from reality, and they probably like it that they are three hours long. With what's happening to our country, maybe I can understand why they seek numbness. The reality is frightening.

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Tex: There are some terrific movies every single year. Not many. But, then, there aren't a lot of very good TV shows, stage productions or political columnists, either.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:40 AM

Flayer in Cupertino, CA. replied:

The only decent show are on TV now. I watch on Netflix even if I'm a season behind. Some great TV shows include "The Wire," "Life on Mars (UK)," "Breaking Bad," "All About Ted," "Firefly," "Homeland" (so far), "Touching Evil," "Dexter," "Mad Men,""Masterpiece Classics," and "The Guardian" just off the top of my head.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 4:54 PM

BJ in St. Cloud, MN said:

What the movie "starts" have to say should carry more weight than the Joe Average American because after all, they pretend to be someone else for a living, and if they're good at it the become "stars". Even those that aren't very good at it have something to say. And why wouldn't we listen to the court jester and the court fool?


Monday, January 7, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

BJ: You're right. But can you really tell the difference between the nonsense spouted by Samuel Jackson, Sean Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker, Roseanne Barr and Jamie Fox, and the crapola that comes out of the mouths of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Sheila Jackson Lee?


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:45 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Burt, don't forget the total idiot that thought Guam was going to tip over because of the Marines stationed on it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Howard: I will never forget Rep. Johnson. Even after all this time, he still makes me laugh.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Burt, another one you can't forget is Mayor BlomminIdiot. When it comes to Johnson, I don't know how the admiral, he asked the question of, did not say, "Sir you are a ___________ (you fill in the words) idiot.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 8:37 PM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

An actor or a politician' is usually no better than his hired speech writer. Afterall, that's how history remembers them, by quoting something they said written by someone else who takes the time to conceive something approaching an inspired thought. As a friend once opined on such people, "they have no taste themselves, but they can always afford to hire somebody who does!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Honest Abe: Truer words were never spoken. I mean, written.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Jim in Clinton, UT said:

Burt, I always enjoy your articles! On a side note, I'm sure you probably have the numbers, how does the spending of this pretnder-in-chief compare with other real presidents before him?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Burt Prelutsky in North Hills, CA replied:

Jim: Far in excess. G.W. Bush was a spendthrift for eight years, but in four years, Obama has already left him in the dust.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 3:33 PM