Okay, so it’s taken a day to recover from the fact that some of my Oscar predictions for this year didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped, but as I reflect on the ups and downs of the long, long, long, Oscar ceremony, one moment still irritates me. Regardless of who hosts, who is nominated, or who performs on the show, one thing Oscar has never done well is political statements. Not when it’s Michael Moore. Not when it’s Susan Sarandon. And not when it’s Al Gore. Though I was thrilled that Al Gore won for his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” unlike fellow blogger Doug, I cringed at the way Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, and the rest of the Hollywood elite took a wonderful moment and used it to rub salt in old wounds.
It started with Ellen’s joke comparing Gore to Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, reminding people that America didn’t vote for the former “American Idol” contestant, but America did vote for Gore, and yet somehow they both ended up at the Academy Awards. Then there was Leonardo DiCaprio fawning all over the former vice-president, trying to convince him to announce that he would run for president. All of these rather lame jokes did nothing but take Americans back to a contentious election that divided the country.
Such ego-driven one-liners on a night intended to celebrate artistic excellence only showed that Hollywood completely missed the other reason Gore’s film is worthy of praise. “An Inconvenient Truth” not only documented the damage we are doing to the environment, but also portrayed one man’s courage and grace after public failure. It traced how one man learned from defeat, refrained from whining or pointing the blame at others, and is now rising from the ashes to truly lead our nation in a way we desperately need–all without holding political office.
I realize there is no perhaps no punchline in looking forward as opposed to looking back, but it might have been the ever-so-slightly more dignified response.