Wednesday 5 March 2014

THE OSCARS: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - a Christian perspective

There was a time when I started counting down to the Oscar's as soon as Christmas was over, tried to see all the movies that were nominated, and waited in anticipation to see what all the stars would be wearing.   Instead this year, I realized the Oscar's were on one week before the date, I had seen only one of the films, and ... well I was still excited to see all those pretty dresses!

After the crude behaviour from last year's host - I wasn't even sure I wanted to watch them this year.  But hoping the producers of the show recognized the problem too, I tuned in with a critical eye...

The Good

It is a great thing to celebrate excellence.  The Bible tells us: "whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).  The purpose of the Academy Awards is to recognize great achievements in various aspects of the film industry - from acting and directing, to editing, sound, costumes, etc.  In doing so, they applaud what has been done, and spur others on to do their best.  In times past, the Oscar's have recognized such great movies as Ben Hur, The Sound of Music, Chariots of Fire and Schindler's List.  This year, 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture - the pre-Civil War story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was captured and sold into slavery.  Stories like this teach us about history, help us understand the depravity of man, and inspire us to seek justice in our own time.  They demonstrate not only an excellence in the technical aspects of film making, but the moral element as well.  (After all, all movies are moral.)

The theme of the Oscar broadcast this year was "Heroes", and we saw the celebration of other real life people through the nominated films, such as Captain Philips, who showed true manliness and heroism in putting his own life before those of his crew when his ship was taken hostage by Somali pirates.  (This was the one movie we did see, and we also read part of his book which was very interesting.)

There was a time when the majority of winners thanked God in their acceptance speeches - but last night this number was limited to two.  Darlene Love, winner for Best Documentary Short, followed up her "Lord God I praise you!" with a soulful rendition of the lyrics true for any believer: "I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free.  'Cause His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me".  I don't know how many people in that theater understood the true meaning behind those words, but they at least saw the beauty in them - and she received a standing ovation.  For me, that was the highlight of the show.

A surprising aspect of the show was the class many of the women showed in their dress selections.  It has been common in years past to see low necklines and high slits, but many of the women this year demonstrated that you can dress modestly with style - whether you are 20, 60, or even pregnant:

Ladylike Style: Glenn Close, Naomi Watts, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Camila Alves

The Bad

Unfortunately, the Academy's idea of excellence sometimes differs from "whatever is true, good, noble, just, lovely and admirable" (Phillipians 4:8).  The list of nominated films included celebrations of sin (The Wolf of Wall Street, even the movie poster my husband turns his eyes from), twisted ideas of love (Her - the story of a man who has a romantic relationship with a computer operating system), and movies you "wouldn't want to watch with your mother" (how someone I know described American Hustle).

Hollywood obviously has an Agenda, and they are pushing it.   Although this year it wasn't so blatant as having Michelle Obama present the final award (last year's pro-liberal, albeit nuanced, move), it shows itself in the movies selected.  Morality became unfashionable years ago, but most recently we really see the boundaries of what should be acceptable being pushed.

The second mention of God came when Matthew McConaughney accepted the award for Best Actor.  His speech was confusing at best, and heretical at worst.  Stating that God is who he looks up to, and that it is a "scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates", he also painted a picture of heaven (or maybe hell?) where men sit around in their underwear drinking beer.  It hardly seems that he has an understanding of the glory and reverence due to God for the sacrifice Christ made when He died on the cross as atonement for the sins of all who believe in Him.  He quoted one Charlie Laughton as saying "When you've got God, you've got a friend. and that friend is you."  I'm not really sure what to make of this, but it sounds to me like he's saying we are our own God - and the true power comes from inside us.  However, the Bible teaches that we are all wicked in our own hearts (which we can easily see if we honestly consider our own thoughts and attitudes) and that it is only through the power of the Gospel that the Holy Spirit regenerates our soul.

The Ugly

And what about the parts of the Oscar ceremony which aren't really BAD, but they aren't really GOOD either?  It seemed that the position of host - someone who introduces us to the films, helps with transitions between awards, and adds a bit of humour to the ceremony, has degenerated.  This year, learning from the criticism garnered by last years crudity - instead what we got was foolishness and a demeaning of the industry.  It's ironic that though comedies are rarely nominated at the Academy Awards, the broadcast seems to be trying to make itself into one.    The focus is moved from the films itself, to the celebrities in the crowd - and how much they'll tip for pizza, or what they look like in a twitter photo. Even secular critics recognized this problem - TIME reviewing the broadcast wrote: "The whole broadcast, really, was like a party-sized order of standard cheese pizza.  You weren't going to go to your grave craving it.  It was a little bland.  But nobody actively hates it." A show about excellence should really be able to do better than that.

What did you think about this years Oscars?

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You may also be interested in: 3 Reasons Christians Should Be Concerned about the Oscars

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