Beyond Beyonce: Why I Boycotted The Oscars

Well, I didn’t exactly boycott the Oscars, that’s a bit too grand. I merely didn’t watch the show this year. It was the first time since I was 4 years old, when I dreamed of becoming an actress, that I didn’t look forward to the awards in thrilled anticipation.

A friend from DC emailed me the next morning. She wrote, “Okay you were right…the Oscars were really boring!” Then because I live and work in Hollywood, she then asked if I knew why Beyonce sang practically all of the nominated songs?” I admitted I hadn’t attended any gossipy Oscar watching parties, nor even watched this year’s presentation. So I wasn’t in the loop re: the multiple Beyonce bookings.

The Academy Awards just don’t inspire me as they did once upon a time. And long before this year, the show didn’t feel magical anymore. Then again, I am no longer a star-struck kid. Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, I’d seen the man behind the curtain. The broadcast seems merely to be a marketing tool. Yet, being in Hollywood and not watching the Oscars, was odd. But like everyone else, I heard about it.

I was listening to talk radio the next day and heard 74 year old’s Clint Eastwood’s post award comment “I’m just a kid.” That statement got an enthusiastic response from the crowd. And look, I realize that most people considered that sentiment cute or certainly even an inspiring way to look at his life and his energy.

However, I do not consider inspiring those ideas promoted by Mr. Eastwood in his recent film. So there is another way I view his self-validation as also being indicative of a deep-seated belief of so many in the entertainment industry. Somehow they must feel that time isn’t passing them by and that they are just starting out. But they insist on dismissing other’s sensibilities, because like eternally hip adolescents they will decide what is most relevant. That attitude alone will keep them vital and vibrantly alive…but will it keep them spiritually mature? To always be young and rebellious, that’s the real American dream for many in Hollywood.

I find the latter quest ironic,considering the glorification of themes that extinguish life, like Mr. Eastwood’s euthanasia/”heavy weight” drama, Million Dollar Baby. Then the actress who starred in the tale of a kindly abortionist in Vera Drake was also nominated. I feel, due to the fascination with these darker subjects, there is a boxing analogy for the Academy voters as well. Hollywood loves to take on and jab at those pesky American traditional values…and they have only begun to fight!

Their artistic and political impulses could be explained by the fact that many in the entertainment community believe life must be perfect or at least convenient, or otherwise it just isn’t acceptable. (Does too much time spent in limos foster that dubious reality?) Yet, it is also a view that sadly has been embraced by many in my baby boomer generation. We have indulged in the world’s longest adolescence with a stubborn refusal to grow up…or God forbid…grow old. Yet, ultimately, God does in fact, forbid it… and it is He who just naturally “pulls the plug” as it were. But, in His ending credits, there is good news for those who have faith.

But, like the frightened children in the dark that some of them are, Hollywood doesn’t accept that premise at all! Why else do you think there is much passion about the evils of second hand smoke, while The Passion of the Christ is treated with disdain?

When I was told of the loud cheers for the best picture win for Million Dollar Baby I was not surprised. See, it was controversial and so it was important for Hollywood to honor this film, this year! After all, in addition to euthanasia and bitterness towards religion, it also is about a girl boxer who rejects and is rejected by her family. And her relatives are horrible and hateful hicks, of course. Symbolically, this reminds me of the view that Hollywood may romantically have of itself, as there has been a rejection of it’s own influence recently at the box office…and at the ballot box!

And to win this Hollywood crowd over, host Chris Rock just HAD to make up for his pre-telecast cracks about Gays. He had to prove he is STILL one of them. So like rebellious teens at a school assembly, Academy members applauded wildly for unfunny and immature jokes about Iraq. Considering the triumph of the recent elections in Iraq, how they continue to make themselves to be even more foolish. But making fun of George Bush seems to be key to their emotional survival.

Talk about assisted suicide! Hollywood’s image dies a little more each day and Rock certainly helped the process along. In the golden days of Johnny Carson or Bob Hope, each was a Masters of Ceremonies who presided over the festivities with a raised eyebrow or wry self-deprecating witticism. Any political jokes were truly a bi-partisian affair. And certainly neither felt the need of this most recent host to carry on like a rodeo clown stirring up the crowd. But, Mr. Rock discovered that while he could bash President Bush to his heart’s content, there weren’t a lot of chuckles about the “Who is Jude Law?” joke. Now that’s hitting the academy too close to home…as the thin-skinned and always petulant Sean Penn would later take issue with.

That was another reason I didn’t watch the Oscars. WHO are ANY of them? After the pomp and circumstance and heart felt speeches, the truth is that no one, maybe not even some of them will remember who won what this year…next year…never mind anyone caring 100 years from now. Yet, the fact that recently Iraqi’s voted defiantly in the face of death threats will echo throughout history!

And finally, while the latter event does inspire me, an assertion made by the Clint Eastwood character in this year’s so-called “best picture” appalls me. He defiantly tells a priest that the girl who wants to die doesn’t need God…what she really needs is Eastwood’s character! Hollywood may believe and applaud that concept. But they also believe that who and what they glorify will matter in the history of the world.

The audiences who went in droves to see The Passion of The Christ know better. And there’s a reason why The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur will probably continue to inspire new generations, as well.

I am no longer a four year old girl who is impressed by Hollywood. I am not thrilled by those who are obsessed by self-adulation and dubious world views. But after the kids in the Academy are long gone, God will still be around. He doesn’t even need anyone to boycott them either, because he really can take all the punches these contenders can deliver. I am inspired by that knowledge, even if I don’t have the scoop behind the eternal singing of Beyonce. And that does make me feel like a kid!