China Censors Chloé Zhao’s Oscar Win

Chloé Zhao’s historic Oscar win should have been met with jubilation in China, the country of her birth. On Sunday night, she became the first Chinese and woman of color to be named best director, for “Nomadland,” which also took home the prize for best picture.

Instead, the Chinese government imposed a virtual news blackout, and censors moved to tamp down or scrub out discussion of the award on social media.

Chinese state-run news media outlets — which are typically eager to celebrate recognition of its citizens on the global stage — made nearly no mention of the Oscars, let alone Ms. Zhao. Chinese social media platforms raced to delete or limit the circulation of articles and posts about the ceremony and Ms. Zhao, forcing many internet users and fans to use homonyms and wordplay to evade the censors.

No reason has been given for the suppression, though Ms. Zhao has recently been the target of a nationalist backlash over remarks she had made about China in the past.

recent escalation in tensions between the United States and China.

“People should be celebrating — both Americans for giving her credit as a film director, and Chinese, for the fact that one of their own won a very prestigious international award,” Ms. Hung said. “But the politics of the U.S.-China relationship seem to have filtered down to the cultural and art circles, which is a shame.”

By midafternoon on Monday, The Global Times, a Communist Party-owned newspaper, broke the silence to urge Ms. Zhao to play a “mediating role” between China and the United States and “avoid being a friction point.”

“We hope she can become more and more mature,” the paper wrote in an editorial that was published only in English.

Although some posts about Ms. Zhao’s success made it through the filters, for the most part, the censors made it clear that the topic was off limits. Searches on Weibo, a popular social media platform, for the hashtag “Chloé Zhao wins the Oscar for best director” returned only the message: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found.”

sensitive portrait of the lives of itinerant Americans, had been scheduled for release in China last week, as of Monday, there were no screenings in theaters.

The Oscars also came under fire last month for the nomination of “Do Not Split,” a film about the antigovernment protests in Hong Kong in 2019, for best short documentary. The Global Times said then that the documentary “lacks artistry and is full of biased political stances.”

Not long after, reports emerged that broadcasters in mainland China and Hong Kong would not be airing the Oscars ceremony for the first time in decades. (One of them, TVB, a Hong Kong broadcaster, said the decision was commercial.)

“Do Not Split,” lost to “Colette,” a film about a French resistance member who visits a concentration camp where her brother died. But its nomination alone had already helped raise awareness about China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, Anders Hammer, the documentary’s director, said in an interview before the awards.

“The ironic thing is that this censorship and the actions taken in Beijing and also Hong Kong have brought much more attention to our documentary and also brought much more attention to the main theme of our documentary, which is how basic democratic rights are disappearing in Hong Kong” Mr. Hammer said.

Chinese reporters working at state-controlled news outlets had been ordered weeks ago to refrain from covering the awards ceremony altogether, said two employees of Beijing-based news outlets, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.

On Monday afternoon, there was no mention of the Oscars in the entertainment section of the flagship People’s Daily website. Instead, the top stories included a report on rural tourism in China and another on a “World Tai Chi Day” event in Malta.

But Ms. Zhao’s fans were undeterred by the censorship. On social media, they resorted to tactics that are by now familiar to many Chinese internet users: blurring out the names of Ms. Zhao and the film, writing backward, turning images on their side or adding slashes or exclamation marks between Chinese characters.

In their posts, many people praised Ms. Zhao’s acceptance speech, in which she said she had been “thinking a lot lately about how I keep going when things get hard.” For inspiration, she said she often looked to a line from a 13th-century classical text that she had memorized as a child growing up in China: “People at birth are inherently good.”

The line resonated with many Chinese who had also grown up memorizing those texts.

“It’s so hard to describe how I felt when I heard her say onstage those six characters in a Beijing accent,” one user wrote. “It may not be my favorite classical phrase — I would say I don’t even really agree with it — but in that moment I cried.”

For many observers, the censorship was something of a lost opportunity for the Chinese government, which has long sought to replicate the success of Hollywood in projecting American soft power around the world.

“The way she drew from her Chinese heritage in tackling difficulties is inspiring,” said Raymond Zhou, an independent film critic based in Beijing. “It’s sad she got massively misunderstood due to a string of cross-cultural events.”

He declined to say more, given the political sensitivity of the issue, adding only that “her body of work speaks for itself.”

Austin Ramzy and Joy Dong contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Claire Fu contributed research.

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The Oscars Are a Week Away, but How Many Will Watch?

Mr. Soderbergh did acknowledge that there is only so much the producers can do.

“People’s decision-making process on whether to watch or not doesn’t seem to be connected to whether or not the show is fantastic or not,” he said, pointing to the strong critical response for this year’s Grammys, which notably featured a risqué performance by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B.

The Oscars telecast, on the other hand, saw its ratings peak in 1998, when 57.2 million people tuned in to see the box office juggernaut “Titanic” sweep to best-picture victory. Since the turn of the century, the most highly rated year was 2004, when the academy honored another box office behemoth, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Analysts point to a litany of challenges propelling the decline. Old broadcast networks like ABC are not as relevant, especially to young people. The ceremonies, even if kept to a relatively brisk three hours, are too long for contemporary attention spans. Last year’s Oscars ran three hours and 36 minutes (the equivalent of 864 videos on TikTok).

Why slog through the show when you can just watch snippets on Twitter and Instagram?

Moreover, the Oscars have become overly polished and predictable. “The Oscars used to be the only time when you got to see movie stars in your living room, and very frequently it was a hoot,” Ms. Basinger, the Hollywood historian, said. “Some seemed a little drunk. Some wore weird clothes. A few had hair hanging in their face.”

Increasingly, the ceremonies are less about entertainment honors and more about progressive politics, which inevitably annoys those in the audience who disagree. One recent producer of the Oscars, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential metrics, said minute-by-minute post-show ratings analysis indicated that “vast swaths” of people turned off their televisions when celebrities started to opine on politics.

And there is simply awards show fatigue. There are at least 18 televised ceremonies each year, including the MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, CMT Music Awards, Tony Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Kids’ Choice Awards and Independent Spirit Awards.

With ratings expected to tumble for the coming telecast, ABC has been asking for $2 million for 30 seconds of advertising time, down about 13 percent from last year’s starting price. Some loyal advertisers (Verizon) are returning, but others (Ferrero chocolates) are not.

“We’re really not getting much advertiser interest,” said Michelle Chong, planning director at Atlanta-based agency Fitzco, “and it’s not something we’ve been pushing.”

Tiffany Hsu contributed reporting.

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$40,000 Swindle Puts Spotlight on Literary Prize Scams

The literary prize scammers seem more obviously motivated by money. The fraudster targeting the British awards appears to use the same approach each time, emailing administrators late at night after the winners’ announcement, using addresses featuring the author’s full name followed by the word “writes.” (Emails from The New York Times to those addresses went unanswered.)

As well as the Rathbones Folio and Baillie Gifford prizes, scammers also wrote to the organizers of the Encore Award last June; the Forward Prizes for Poetry, in October; and the Society of Authors Translation Prizes, in February, the organizers of those awards said. Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, had not been contacted, its director, Gaby Wood, said in an email. “Oddly enough, no attempt has been made,” she added.

Caroline Bird, a winner in last year’s Forward Prizes, said in a telephone interview that Britain’s literary scene was trusting and cozy, and that the scammer was “clever” to exploit that. “It’s not the place you’d ever come across someone on the rob,” Bird said.

But several of the organizers who received the phishing emails said they suspected the fraudster was involved in British publishing, given the person knew who to contact and when to send the messages. Mundy, of the Baillie Gifford Prize, said he wondered whether the scammer might be a disgruntled author “who’d never won a prize and was furious about it, trying to claim what’s rightfully theirs, by fair means or foul.”

Did any authors come to mind? “There’s plenty,” Mundy said with a laugh. “But I’m not naming names.”

Few share that idea, though, for one simple reason: The emails lack a certain literary flair. “The prose was a bit dead, and there was no warmth,” said Patrick McGuinness, the winner of last year’s Encore Award, who had been passed the scammer’s email. “As a literary critic, I would say there was all the right words, but none of the fire.”

Brown, the Baillie Gifford winner, agreed. “I’m not thinking, ‘My God, it’s Salman Rushdie,’” he said. A published author would have put more effort into the grammar, for starters, he added.

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The Israel Prize Is Meant to Unify. More Often, It’s Mired in Controversy.

Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer who represents Professor Goldreich, said that even if his client did support B.D.S., such support should not disqualify him from receiving the Israel Prize.

“Now, to prove that someone called for a boycott, you need to scrutinize his writings and signatures, driving us straight toward a McCarthyist process,” Mr. Sfard said, referring to the 1940s and 1950s in the United States, when leftists were regularly accused of subversion and treason. “This is an attempt to exclude a whole political camp in Israel.”

Professor Goldreich missed this year’s ceremony, which was recorded on Sunday for broadcast on Thursday. The judges said that should he be approved, he could receive the award at next year’s ceremony, if not before.

Mr. Gallant, the education minister, appeared emboldened by the court decision.

“Prof. Goldreich may be a brilliant scientist, but his support for the boycott movement and his call to boycott Ariel University is a spit in the face of the state of Israel and of Israeli academia and is possibly even a violation of the law,” he wrote on Twitter. He added that he would use the time to investigate whether the professor’s “current renunciation” of the boycott movement was genuine.

Mr. Gallant’s staff declined requests for comment.

“I view this (unlawful) behavior of the minister as a small step in the process of pushing the left in Israel outside the limits of legitimacy, a process that has been going on for decades now and has been intensified in the last years,” Professor Goldreich said in an emailed comment. “I am happy to play a role in the struggle to block this delegitimization process and the attempt to reverse it.”

The professor’s colleagues and supporters held an alternative award ceremony for him at Weizmann Institute this week, where he referred to the award as the “Likud Prize.”

“I think that the Likud and the state of Israel are two different things,” he said.

The Weizmann Institute took out ads in the Hebrew newspapers on Wednesday congratulating Professor Goldreich and saying that, as far as they were concerned, he had won the prize.

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Turing Award Goes to Creators of Computer Programming Building Blocks

When Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman met while waiting in the registration line on their first day of graduate school at Princeton University in 1963, computer science was still a strange new world.

Using a computer required a set of esoteric skills typically reserved for trained engineers and mathematicians. But today, thanks in part to the work of Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman, practically anyone can use a computer and program it to perform new tasks.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman would receive this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.

Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand.

rely on the strange behavior exhibited by things like electrons or exotic metals cooled to several hundred degrees below zero.

Quantum computers rely on a completely different kind of physical behavior from traditional computers. But as they create programming languages for these machines, Dr. Svore and her colleagues are still drawing on the work of the latest Turing winners.

“We are building on the same techniques,” she said.

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