The Uphill Slide

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Politics At The Movies

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I watched The Oscars tonight, though not from the start. The good stuff always comes at the end anyway. Viewers were boycotting the ceremony because of the anti-Trump statements and sentiments expressed in Hollywood and by celebrities. So what? I love the movies. I can appreciate the work and talent of people I disagree with and might not even like. Of course, celebrities can use that celebrity to express their views and have millions listen. So can other types of celebrities. The rich can influence us. The powerful can influence us. Our boss can influence us. We give them that opportunity by putting them on pedestals, not necessarily because they are smarter than us or even have some expertise. We just let them influence us with what they have that we don’t. They talk; we listen. But often it’s just their personal view, so what do I care? I can decide to agree or disagree. They’re as entitled to an opinion as I am.

We’ll see if the producers of the Oscars are damaged by a boycott if it was widespread enough to have an impact. Anyway, those movies nominated could be that individual actor’s money or their story or their direction, but usually, it is someone else’s. That one actor might give a great performance, but there are hundreds and maybe thousands of other people benefitting from that movie production. It’s not just that famous face. Even I made some money from those Hollywood types. A couple of years ago I sold some clay pots as props for the show, Banshee. People in Pittsburgh made money from the production of FencesThey were even celebrating the connection to this movie at the August Wilson Center in town tonight. Lots of films featuring some of those anti-Trump actors have been shot in Pennsylvania. We even had films shot in my hometown of Worthington and in the limestones mines where I once worked.

So when I watch films or the awards shows, it’s the work and the talent that I am celebrating. And the awards, it’s just like those awards dinners we have in our hometowns to hand out trophies to athletes and community leaders. Just another line to add to the resume. A big deal one night, and then it’s back to work to prove you really earned that award.

Tonight I hadn’t seen all the nominated movies to cast my vote on the ones I thought earned that golden statue. But even without seeing all the movies, I was glad to hear Casey Affleck’s name called for best actor. I thought he gave a great performance in Manchester by the Sea. I thought the vote might be affected by accusations of harassment against him. Now there’s a thorny issue to decide. Celebrity gives actors the opportunity to get their opinions on Primetime, but it also can make them a target for accusations. What if he did harass someone? Then I have to decide what I believe about his character, and if I will still appreciate his work. It’s hard to know, though, because I am depending on the celebrity media to give information that may not be very reliable. Years ago there were accusations against Roman Polanski for rape that he evaded by fleeing the country and then accusations about Woody Allen who was never charged and Mel Gibson making anti-Semitic comments in a rant. So now I have to decide if I will follow the work of possible criminals and racists. Can I overlook those serious accusations to appreciate their work? So certain political views of actors don’t seem very important to me in watching their movies or celebrating good work, although there might be exceptions for some political views. I’m even hoping to see Trump to do good work (in my view), even though I don’t agree with his views or think I would personally like him.

Finally, I watched “live” the terrible mistake that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway made in announcing the Best Picture winner. Hopefully, that will never happen again. Sorry, La La Land; hand over those statues to Moonlight.  For professionals, there is very little to excuse that mistake. Not good work to be celebrated there!

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