The Academia Awards

 

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Tonight the annual Academia Awards will be on the television.

I’ll be watching, as I have for over fifty years.  I always say I’m not going to, but I love great acting and I can’t help it and I want to see who wins.  So I indulge myself in the same way that I eat things I shouldn’t.

Why do I do this? I’m not sure, but it seems like a habit to me.  I don’t think actors and artists should use this platform for their political beliefs.  On the other hand, I think they’re entitled to do it if they want to, same as me.  It’s the law; the very first item in the Bill Of Rights.

You have to read between the lines in that Bill Of Rights.  The people who wrote this thing were slippery if you ask me.  They said we can, but they didn’t say we should.  They didn’t tell us we have to deal with the results.  And if you check the dictionary, that falls under something called responsibility. It’s probably under maturity too.

I’m just trying to be logical here.  Lots of people feel differently about political issues.  So if a well-known actor takes a public stand on those issues, a portion (probably a significant portion) will disagree.  In terms of what they call a “bankable star,” an actor who producers and directors love to cast in their next movie, this is like cutting off an arm or a leg.  And each time they speak, it continues to chip away at their bargaining power.  If they continue to take sides, people tend to stop listening, so that’s like taking their mouth away.  Now I’m just a community theatre actor, but I know it’s hard to act without arms and legs and mouths.

So the bottom line is that it’s just silly for a well-known actor to speak in ways that are devisive or contentious.    They are famous because of their ability to act and yet they diminish themselves by choosing to say things they didn’t have to say.

I know a guy who is a master carpenter.  He is an artist in wood.  He doesn’t talk politics and he doesn’t have political signs plastered all over his shop and he doesn’t throw his political opinions onto Facebook.  And of course he doesn’t do that because his customers don’t want to hear his political opinions.  They want beautiful bannisters and cabinets.  I’m sure he has an opinion, but his decision to put a lid on it was a no-brainer.  People think of him as mature and responsible.

I’ve loved movies all my life.  I have always marveled at great actors.  I’ll continue to watch these people do the thing they do best.  I’ve learned how to not listen to them when they win an award.  It’s called a MUTE button.  Mary and I dbsig2use this device to voice our opinions in the privacy of our home.  No one can hear us, unless you count Alexa.  She apparently doesn’t have a political bone in her body.  I can tell when the actors are done talking, because they hold the trophy up and walk away, apparently very proud that they’ve just lowered their salary.

2 thoughts on “The Academia Awards

  1. Unlike my friend, I will not watch the Academy Awards tonight. It has been my tradition not to do so for the last four years, and for good reason. It was around that time that “award shows” decided it was in their purview to be the nation’s chief guidance counselors regarding politics and what’s best for society. I hold the same sentiment toward late night variety shows and have watched nary a single one for nearly two years. I sense zero personal loss in both cases.

    What we have among entertainers in particular, and in our society today, in general, is a problem with boundaries. Rights do exist in the abstract, but do not exist in a vacuum. No right is absolute. I may urinate, but I may not urinate in public view in the street. Oliver Wendell Holmes famously penned “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”. Obviously, Hollywood types spouting an ideology is not the same as falsely shouting fire in a theater, though some might argue that their histrionics come painfully close.

    An expectation of honoring boundaries makes up a great deal of what holds society together and keeps it functioning. There is no shortage of appropriate forums for civil discourse—today more than ever. We have newspapers, talk radio, opinion programs, town hall meetings, blogs, and even social media (though the latter noticeably attracts dimwits whose greatest attribute is an ability to murder grammar and spelling, but who tend to be lightweights in all else.) When I watch a football game, I expect to see football. I have no interest in watching highly paid and overindulged athletes making political statements in the workplace, with no regard or respect for those that paid a huge price for the “right” they are mutilating. The NFL is perhaps starting to learn this by its tremendous drop in ratings, viewership, and purchase of merchandise in the last two seasons. Were I to use a medical grand rounds conference in our office to espouse some political view. I would likely lose my job. And I should. I would have crossed a boundary. And that brings us full circle to the entertainers. People have a reasonable expectation that an awards show will honor individuals for the work they have done. When other agenda are introduced in the venue, it feels like an assault. It may have some value the first time it is done, some may call it “refreshing” because of the novelty of it. It soon wears thin—because it is out of place. It is no longer “refreshing,” it is irritating (unless, of course, the individual is pontificating on some ideology with which one happens to agree—then , I suppose, it is great beyond measure.). But for the majority, it becomes irritating because a boundary of expectation has been crossed. Or, as I said, assaulted.

    My friend points out the difference between the can and the should. It is the ignoring of the “should” that has become so harmful to our anything goes society. Time and place for everything.

    Actors using an awards forum to spit political ideology is particularly grating. And that there are so many sheep that blindly follow them amazes me. Here you have a group which, by profession, spends their lives imitating the lives of others. An existence that is entirely vicarious. And these people expect to be regarded as having the TOP level of credence.

    Brittany Brittanie, in her article on Roman culture, had this to say: “Actors, in Roman society, were considered to hold a lower, dangerous status and were often avoided…Actors were often born into the profession, as was typical in Roman society where children usually took up the profession of their parents. The profession, however, was a very interesting one to take up. Actors, probably adding to their bad reputation, had license to behave very badly on stage and even mock politics.”

    That we have adopted the Roman way doesn’t say much for us.

    Tonight, I will be reading a book. If you plan to watch the awards, I hope you enjoy the assault. You aren’t a victim. You’re a volunteer.

    From: commonsense
    Reply-To: commonsense
    Date: Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 8:53 AM
    To: Timothy Murphy
    Subject: [New post] The Academia Awards

    This is an EXTERNAL EMAIL. Stop and think before clicking a link or opening attachments.

    rboehner posted: “Tonight the annual Academia Awards will be on the television. I’ll be watching, as I have for over fifty years. I always say I’m not going to, but I love great acting and I can’t help it and I want to see who wins. So I indulge myself in the same way t”

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