They held the Oscars on Sunday.
I didn’t watch.
I played Van Morrison’s greatest hits while I made lesson plans for school.
The Academy nominated Morrison for “Best Original Song.” He didn’t win; that was as close as I came to the Oscars.
I used to watch the Oscars as a boy. I grew up in Winterset in the days before the rehab of the Iowa Theater. My parents and I seldom went to movies in Des Moines.
The kinds of movies I wanted to see weren’t the kinds of movies that won Oscars.
But I liked movies a lot.
I watched the Oscars to see clips of the movies.
I watched “At the Movies” with Chicago movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert when it was on PBS for the same reason.
These clips proved cultural crib notes. My friends seemed to see more movies than me, so I would memorize the scenes I saw on Siskel and Ebert or the Oscars and pretend I’d seen the films.
I wanted to fit in more in my younger days.
The watched the Oscars in 1998. I rooted for “As Good as It Gets,” one of my favorite films with Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear.
The three actors took the top awards, but the movie lost to “Titanic,” which I hadn’t seen and still have not seen.
The media, as it often does, beat me senseless with stories about how much people loved “Titanic,” how girls swooned as Leonardo DiCaprio slid off the door and died. The radio lambasted me with that tortuous Celine Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On.”
I hated “Titanic” having not watched a frame. That’s terribly unfair, but when it comes to entertainment, I reserve the right to be irrational.
This leads me to the 2022 edition of the Oscars.
I saw two of the Best Picture nominees, “Nightmare Alley” and “Licorice Pizza,” especially the latter. I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age movie.
The movie that won, “CODA,” I knew nothing about and had heard nothing about before the Oscars.
I probably won’t watch it. It streams on Apple+; I have more pressing financial needs.
I saw Andrew Garfield and Benedict Cumberbatch were up for Best Actor, but it turns out not for the film I saw them in: “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
The biggest problem with the Oscars is that it’s boring. I don’t care about what the actors wear on the red carpet nor do I care about their thoughts on Russia’s war against Ukraine or even the evening’s event.
Therein lies the Oscar’s’ other biggest problem: Somebody is always selling their worldview and labeling anyone who disagrees as some kind of hate monger.
Actors are artists and, as such, often passionate. I am a writer, a kind of artist, and I am often passionate.
Actors have aired their political beliefs at the Oscars for decades.
Marlon Brando famously sent a Sacheen Littlefeather to the 1973 awards ceremony to refuse his Oscar for playing crime boss Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.”
Littlefeather spoke against the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans in film and chastised the United States government for its violation of treaties.
This sort of thing started before I was born and continues.
I don’t know what political drumbeats were struck Sunday.
I do know Will Smith punched Chris Rock over Rock’s joke about his wife, which is either a new low or a new high for the Oscars. I really don’t know how to tell the difference.
Before the show, I know Sean Penn threatened to smelt both of his Oscars if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy were not allowed to speak.
I would think Zelenskyy would have better things to do than talk to the swells of Hollywood. My understanding is the Russians are murdering civilians, blowing up hospitals, and waging war against Ukraine.
I fail to see what an appearance on the Oscars does for Ukrainians, other than make a collection of America’s richest and most detached from reality people feel slightly more important.
Russia’s actions in the Ukraine are abhorrent. They make me sad for people displaced and killed for seemingly no reason.
The atrocities scare me. If the U.S. gets directly involved, that raises the threat of nuclear war to its highest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
That’s the endgame.
These kind of world events reminds us how small we are. I can empathize, cry, protest, and shake my fist at the sky about what Russia is doing all I want.
But it will do nothing other than shake up my already jangled nerves and blood pressure.
This must be hard for celebrities. People look up to them. They see them as leaders and heroes, even though they really are not.
It must be especially hard for celebrities to face a crisis like the war in Ukraine.
Their outsized fame misleads them into thinking their speechifying can change the world the way their characters do on screen.
They, like the rest of us, can do other things: Donate to the Red Cross, the world’s greatest humanitarian organization or support other groups that help refugees.
Nothing said on the Oscars by celebrities will matter either.
There was a political dust-up at the 1978 Oscars. You can look up the details online, but presenter Paddy Chayefsky, the writer of the excellent movie “Network,” said, in part, “winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed.’”
Former journalist and future teacher Daniel P. Finney writes columns for the Marion County Express.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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