Last Saturday, Connecticut congressman Joe Courtney and his wife went to a movie theater to watch Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Courtney called the film “tremendous,” “compelling,” and “consuming,” though he also found himself confused by the film’s climatic roll call scene, which features two of his state’s circa-1865 delegates voting to uphold slavery. After some quick research, he confirmed that all four of Connecticut’s representatives had, in fact, voted for the Thirteenth Amendment (which outlawed slavery.) So, on Tuesday, he defended his forebears’ honor by sending Spielberg a letter asking that the mistake be fixed before Lincoln goes to DVD. It seems like a reasonable request — that is, until is you find out that Courtney credits his razor-thin, 83-vote margin of victory in the 2006 midterm elections to the campaigning of Ben Affleck, who just so happens to be the director and lead actor in Lincoln’s main Oscar rival, Argo.
So, did Affleck order Courtney to go after his opposition? Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner responded with his own letter in which he said he was “sad to learn that Rep. Courtney feels Connecticut has been defamed.” However, he also took issue with Courtney’s “contention that accuracy in every detail is ‘paramount’ in a work of historical drama. Accuracy is paramount in every detail of a work of history.” So, if the plan was to destroy Lincoln’s cred with the Academy’s historical accuracy diehards, then it seems to have succeeded. However, an Argo representative — perhaps one worried about her own movie’s chances among the Academy’s conspiracy-wary voters — has insisted that filmmakers had “no involvement with the Courtney letter.”
When asked about the situation by the Los Angeles Times yesterday, Courtney laughed, “It’s hilarious, that conspiracy theory. I’m not smart enough to know when Oscar voting begins.” (As it happens, voting opened yesterday.) So, what does all this mean for Zero Dark Thirty?