This is my annual Oscar’s column. Like the Super Bowl, I have never missed a broadcast of these American television traditions.
I love movies.
Drew teases that I will always find something to like, even in the worst film:
"Wasn’t the scenery beautiful?"
"Impressive performance by that maid — she should have had more lines."
"The costumes were terrific!"
But, the good ones, for those two or so hours, might take us out of our comfort zone or make us think about things we might never had thought about before. They prompt conversations in this techno world of tweets and texts. They transport us into familiar realities or to fantastical, mystical or even hideous new ones.
And, even though the telecasts are always too long, include often silly, poorly written lines that the presenters are forced to deliver; there is something magic about “the movies” which translates from the big screen to the little screen in the spectacle (I mean this in a good way) of the show. There are always pertinent “take-aways” to be gleaned by the viewer.
The Harvey Weinstein scandals have galvanized the country to stop giving the “casting couch” a wink and a nod, prompting calls for true action eliminating abuses by those in power in all industries — not just cinema. In this, the movies have and are still leading a noble quest for equality. This dominated much of the pre-Oscar buzz.
Casey Affleck, Best Actor recipient last year, was unceremoniously uninvited to perform the time-honored tradition of presenting the award for Best Actress this year because of abuse allegations. Much was made of Kobe Bryant’s and Gary Oldman’s nominations, even though their abuse allegations were proven false.
All of this prompted discussions of alleged abusive actions by many greats — past and present — of the film industry.
As with movies themselves, all of this made me think about history and how we respond to it. Are we not to admire and still watch the movies of the directorial genius, Alfred Hitchcock? Are we not to laugh and cry at Woody Allen’s films? Do we boycott all films associated with Harvey Weinstein and his company?
Then, I began to think about the controversial removal of the monuments to Confederate soldiers that rocked our country recently.
Are we to forgive or forget history? Are they mutually exclusive?
Can we not accept that people do and believe bad things but still acknowledge their place in our country’s cultural history? While I admit that the removal of the Civil War statues seems a more serious issue than refusing to see a movie; the concept, to me, is very similar.
The Oscars had the glitz and glamour. Oh, those gowns! The predictable critiques about the host being great by some and terrible by others were written. Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint gave those women among us, of a certain age, inspiration. Getting older doesn’t have to mean not living and producing to the fullest.
But, my “come away” from the Oscars was of a serious nature. How are we to treat history?