February. A cold, short little month with the Super Bowl, Valentine’s, and finally, the all-important Oscars. We coccoon around the TV and huddle up. I’ve scaled back on the Tube, since I want a clear line of demarcation between politics, news, and entertainment. Now it’s all just infotainment. How irksome when the talking heads become the news rather than report or spin it. Do I really need to know about Megyn Kelly and her 15 million dollars per annum for changing channels?
So I’ve switched off TV and gone to the movies. A lot “with buzz” come out right before the Oscars, although Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water still gets my vote. I do enjoy the Academy Awards’ spectacle and joining in the national sport of betting on who’s going to win what while critiquing all those designer clothes and cutting-edge hairdos. It’s just fun and fantasy right? Scifi, romances, shoot-em-ups, even musicals are back. And billions tune in. Billions. So very much more than any other spectacle, except maybe the Olympics and the Super Bowl.
We project all kinds of feelings about those folks who resonate with us on the big screen. And it’s big, big bucks. I’m getting old, I guess, since there is a sameness about so many films with prequels and sequels, and I abjure the heavy-handedness of the gospel according to whatever agenda for political correctness Hollyweird is cramming down our unpolitically correct brains until we “get it.”
The Academy Awards are pointed reminders of who Hollywood celebrities are. Performers. Actors. Entertainers. They are not statesmen, philosophers, social critics, or role models. They bring to life characters created by writers. They give performances which are then enhanced by others in the industry. It only takes one bleary-eyed actor who can’t read a cue card or open an envelope onstage to underscore that.
Film stars have average educations and insights and are lucky people who photograph and take direction well. Some are truly gifted with timing and nuance of acting. Yet this talent gives them no keener insight or authority on the problems in healthcare, the environment, foreign policy, or social mores than your next-door neighbor. It is absurd to adopt a position on anything because of a movie star. George Clooney is not your friend because you have spent intimate hours in a dark room watching him act. Barbra Streisand is not your spokesperson because she can belt out a tune. Charlton Heston is not Moses because he played the part in a movie.
Actors and actresses often have screwed up marriages and kids, struggles with addictions, battles with depression; in other words they are just people who muddle through life without a whole lot of clarity, certainly not more than me or you. Why then would their viewpoints on politics and society have any relevance unless it just happens to coincide with your own?
Some years they must have had laughing gas as well as the drug of choice in the Green Room before the stars were escorted out to make presentations or accept awards. Once Elizabeth Taylor was in such an altered state that Dick Clark had to lead her through the difficult task of holding on to an envelope and opening it. But my biggest disappointment was the year Al Pacino was being honored for a lifetime achievement award. His endless, unintelligible, pointless ramblings were so ill-crafted that the presenters lurched forward several times to try to get him offstage.
Occasionally, one of our idols does emerge with grace and transport us to that fantasyland of glamour and happiness: think Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and it’s magic time. Ah, such a Valentine is then. Finally, after February comes March, when we can all cut the cord and go outdoors again.
Len Bourland can be reached through her website www.lenbourland.com and is the author of a new book, Normal’s Just a Cycle on a Washing Machine.