Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s Academy Awards dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. The Dictator and The Nun. Talk about a study in contrasts. Delores Hart (aka Mother Delores), the former Elvis Presley  co-star who gave up Hollywood for the convent (and the subject of the nominated documentary short God is the Bigger Elvis) shared the proverbial Red Carpet with Sacha Baron Cohen who showed up in full Dictator regalia to promote his upcoming flick which is said to be a comedy. Supposedly, crass promotion of upcoming projects is forbidden at The Oscars but it appears another standard of taste has fallen by the wayside.  Speaking of poor taste, if Ryan Seacrest wasn’t in on the joke, it seems to me that Cohen’s stunt bordered on assault.

BTW, God is the Bigger Elvis lost in its category to Saving Face which I didn’t see but looks like a worthy choice.

2. Off-color humor. Hollywood types still seem to have trouble differentiating between “edgy” and over the edge. Some felt that host Billy Crystal’s blackface bit edged over that line. Others questioned whether Crystal’s joke comparing the current GOP presidential candidates to “a Dark Knight, an American Psycho and a Charismatic Crack Addict” would have been good-naturedly (of course) leveled at Democrats. Later (or maybe it was sooner, I don’t know as I kept drifting in and out of consciousness), the host introduced Michael Douglas by noting something to the effect that he occupied Wall Street before it was cool. To many viewers, OWS stopped being cool several crimes and anti-Semitic tirades ago.

3. Out-of-Touch Oscar. It was probably unintentional but, in my view, the Academy really telegraphed its disdain for the actual movie-going audience with a taped bit about how a focus group made of American rubes would have ruined the artistry of The Wizard of Oz. Actually, it seems to me that most people love that movie the way it is and wish current Hollywood would make more like it.  Hollywood is the only business I know that seems to get off on insulting its customers.

6. Iron Man Tebows! Check it out. Was it a tribute or a shot at the pro-faith NFL star. You decide. Meanwhile, Tim Tebow has reportedly signed with WME to represent him in Hollywood.

7.  Jean Dujardin speaks! He won for Best Actor in The Artist. It would have been kind of funny if he just moved his lips without saying anything.

8. Up-and-comer Meryl Streep named Best Actress. It was for The Iron Lady which I was stunned to learn wasn’t sequel to Iron Man. Actually, I saw the movie and Meryl Streep was, in fact, great in it. My problem is with the movie itself. The story of Margaret Thatcher has all the elements of a rousing tale of triumph about how a supposedly dowdy British woman overcame sexism to become prime minister and turn around a nation’s economy and self image — while also kicking an aggressive Argentine military’s butt.  But, instead, we got a film that dwelt way too much on the years after her time in office which, according to the filmmakers, have been depressing to say the least. And to think the woman’s actually still alive. Bad taste and tin-eared filmmaking.

Streep, BTW, beat out Glenn Close who looked awfully good in Albert Nobbs. Though I guess if she was that convincing, she would have been nominated in the Best Actor category.

9. Hollywood’s Top 9 vs. the public’s. Personally, I think Oscar should stick with the traditional five films but I thought expanding the number of nominees was supposed result in the inclusion of films that are actually, you know, popular.  But compare the list of nine nominees to the top nine box office hits and there is actually no crossover at all.  The Help is the highest-ranked nominated film coming in at #13 at the box office.  Of course to be fair, The Artist (which won the Oscar) didn’t open wide until January 20th of this year.

10. Movie I would have liked to have seen nominated: The Way.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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