Monday, February 23, 2015

Hollywood in all its glory--can we see change?

Like many of you, I sat in front of my TV and watched the Academy Awards last night. It was a rainy evening in So Cal and I snuggled in a blanket and watched the long show with salad and vegetarian pizza. Comfort food, comfort night. I had not seen any of the films up for Best Movie except American Sniper. But I watch for the fashion and for the speeches and I was pretty disappointed with most.

Julianne Moore was my “best dressed” in a gorgeous, classic sheath dress and simple hair and jewelry. Jennifer Aniston came in second for me with her form fitting nude colored dress. Very simply stated!

The highlights of the night for me were: One-- Lady Gaga’s tribute to Sound of Music. Cried and sang along all the way through it. Sound of Music is on my top ten list of all time favorites. And of course I bawled when Julie Andrews came on stage! She is still beautiful and classic and embodies purity.  Two--John Legend and Common’s performance of Glory—beautiful words and cause…..and then the speech for the song—definite best of the night! Of course, there was Tim McGraw’s performance of Glen Campbell’s song—the one he wrote to his family when he was diagnosed with Alzheimers.  Truly memorable!  But that was about it. Everything else fell pretty flat. The speeches were boring—seriously, can’t they put more thought into the speech of a lifetime? There were shout outs for women’s rights, gay rights, black and Hispanic rights.  All good, but not terribly memorable.  I mean, after coming off Matthew McCaughnahah’s speech from last year, nothing can hold a candle. His face, his eyes, his body, his words.  Sorry to see him all bearded out this year, but glad to see Bradley Cooper all cleaned up.  I guess it is for the “roles.”

I wonder about Hollywood’s “Prom Night”—the big night of the year.  So much money, time, energy, and vanity poured into one night.  The “gift bags” that the winners received supposedly had $167,000 worth of “goodies” in them. Really?  $167,000 can go a long way in impoverished areas that I hold dear like Tijuana and Uganda.  $167,000 can go a long way in our United States—in crime ridden and poverty ridden communities. I wonder if we could turn the tide at some point here and make a real difference in the world. Instead of goodie bags for the already wealthy winners, what about making donations to fight world hunger, impure water, and sex trafficking? There is so much we could do if we just affected change in our culture.  I wonder how much money was spent on clothes, jewelry, updos and make up artists? How much money was spent on detox and last minute diets to fit into those dresses? How much money is spent on rehab for the many actors who are addicted to drugs and alcohol? How much money is spent on frivolous shopping trips and eating escapades that these actors throw around just to look good? How much sadness and emptiness do many of these actors and directors feel because their only purpose is in their moments of glory?

I will admit that the film industry does beautiful work at times. Pieces of true cultural history come from these talented people. They teach us, and touch our lives with their work. But how much trash also comes forth from this industry?  Billions of dollars spent on things our eyes should never see.  I just saw the movie MacFarland USA with my son.  Yes, a Disney film with those “pull your heartstring” clich├ęs in it, but a true story that was inspiring. A story that left us talking about what is important and what to appreciate. Not an Oscar worthy film in any right, not a cinematic masterpiece, but a film I could take my kid to and talk about the points in it together.

Yes, I watched the Oscars, and yes, I enjoyed critiquing the fashion. And yes, I enjoyed the brilliance of the minds in the film industry--the writers who are bold and unique and charismatic; the directors and producers who want to make statements and bring light to important causes; the actors who portray humility and honor and victory and despair.  There is no doubt that Hollywood can teach us and transform us.  Many of the people in the industry do amazing things with their time, talent, and resources. Many fight for and participate in worthy causes. But that industry is filled with depression, addiction, anxiety and despair.  Hollywood needs to change. I don’t know how it will happen or with whom, but it needs to focus on more of what is good and worthwhile and positive in this world. Maybe one or two or more can begin to look at the industry and cause change. Maybe someday there won’t be goodie bags for the winners, but donations to impoverished areas in our own United States. Maybe someday actors and directors will stand for something more than thanking the academy.  Maybe they will think about how their words impact teens and adults alike and they will be more productive in how they prepare their speeches.  We need more songs like Glory and movies like Selma and speeches that focus on “staying yourself and staying weird” so that young kids can take something more than just glitz and glamor and hype from a production like the Oscars.

Maybe there is a person out there who can really make a difference. And maybe that person isn’t an actor or a director or a writer, but someone who makes a difference right where they are, in their own little community. And maybe that person will never hold a naked gold statue, but will be honored in their own way and for the work they do that makes a difference, not on screen, but in real life.

Maybe, just maybe we will see change in Hollywood and in our world.


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