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Was racism behind the Oscar snubbing of ''The Sixth Sense''?

Though the Indian media sees the R-word, director M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t think so

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M. Night Shyamalan
Ron Phillips

India — already at odds with Pakistan — has found a new enemy: the Academy Awards. After ”The Sixth Sense,” directed by Indian-born M. Night Shyamalan, came away with nary a statuette, the subcontinent’s media went into attack mode. The Times of India cried ”cultural racism,” while the Pioneer headlined an article ”And the Oscar goes to… apartheid!,” dismissing Oscar fave ”American Beauty” as ”a fluffy film about Yankee suburbia.” ”All our leading directors have been shabbily treated by the West,” says Pioneer editor in chief Chandan Mitra, citing last year’s virtual Oscar shutout of ”Elizabeth,” directed by Shekhar Kapur.

Unfortunately for the Indian press, the chief snubbee isn’t buying the argument. ”It’s not racism, it’s capitalism,” says Shyamalan, referring to studios’ aggressive Oscar campaigns. ”They spend like crazy, and it has an influence.” Adds an Academy spokesman: ”A couple of years ago, the Brits were complaining they didn’t have enough nominations. [Then] Americans were complaining the Brits had too many.” Sounds like another late night at the United Nations.