Just yesterday, a Texas jury returned a guilty verdict in Eddie Ray Routh’s murder trial. Routh was accused, and has now been convicted, of murdering former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefied. To the extent that I can be made happy by a just ending to an awful event that saw the end of two innocent lives, I am pleased by the verdict. Yesterday’s courtroom news stirred my brain and brought to mind a few important points. Firstly, don’t commit a crime in Texas and hope that you will be found innocent because someone picked on you in middle school. It won’t play out that way. Secondly, we, as in none of us, have spent enough time talking about Chad Littlefield. I know nothing about him except that he was close with Chris Kyle. The impact of a man’s death has nothing to do with his fame or fortune. Children’s tears are no less salty; the emptiness in the hearts of family members are no less cavernous. Thirdly, I’m not done with the Oscars. I thought I was. I’m not. I have some lingering bitterness.
You must know that I don’t care about the Academy Awards, nor do I care about any awards focused on the entertainment industry. They are nothing more than self-administered adulation that serves only to prop up the very industry that puts them on your television. Talk about a self-licking ice cream cone. This is an ice cream cone that builds its own ingredients from scratch, pieces them together, promotes the product, sells it at a premium, and then reviews the results. You don’t even get a vote. No one cares what you thought about the ice cream cone. The ice cream cone will tell you how good the ice cream cone was, thank you. External inputs are neither required nor desired.
I do not hesitate to admit that movies can be a very powerful social force. Some people lack the ability to immerse themselves in reading. That comment is not intended as slander. These aren’t lazy or intellectually bankrupt people; they simply don’t get enveloped by stories that appear in written form. Movies, on the other hand, provide a visual representation of the story that is unavoidable. You can put a book on the night-stand. You can’t hide from the visceral reaction stirred by moving pictures. Although I’ve read books that were haunting, they never scared me. I’ve seen movies that prevented a good night’s rest for weeks. They require us to see the world through a different lens, and I think we are the better for it. I relish the perspective they provide. “Philadelphia” helped us understand the plight of those afflicted with AIDS. “Roots” helped us understand the long-term effects of oppressing an entire demographic.
Movies are a part of our social fabric, and they should be celebrated. Most Hollywood moguls, while reminding the viewing public that what they create is art, would wholeheartedly agree. They will also remind you that you can’t judge or grade art. Scoring and ranking systems represent no more than an affront, yet, those same moguls are obviously more than happy to mug on the red carpet and accept statues that symbolize their superiority. Doc Holliday said it best: “My hypocrisy knows no bounds”.
I did not want to watch the Academy Awards. They were just on. You’re going to have to accept that. I did not watch them in their entirety. I saw just enough to remember why I don’t watch them. The unsolicited commentary from the buffoons who win these awards is simply too much to bear. What leads them to believe that we want their advice is a complete mystery to me. You make the movies. You act in the movies. We pay for and watch the movies. End of story. The fact that you suddenly have a microphone in your face and an impromptu world-wide audience should not compel you to explain to me how things should be. Just collect your award, thank your family and your agent, and be on your way. Your opinions on current events and social injustice mean less to me than an atheist’s thought’s on when you should open Christmas presents.
From Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu:
“I want to dedicate this award to my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”
Thanks, Alejandro. Clearly this country has been a difficult adjustment for you. As it pertains to the Mexican government, I completely agree. Just make sure you check with all of the policemen whose families were murdered by drug kingpins to get their take.
From Laura Poitras, who directed the documentary “Citizenfour” about our national hero Edward Snowden:
“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control.”
Thanks, Laura. When I want advice about what type of film to use in low-light environments, I’ll give you a call. Your feelings about treasonous acts don’t interest me in the least.
From Patricia Arquette:
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation. We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Thanks, Patricia. Take out an ad in the paper so I don’t have to listen to you. Your net worth is $24M. I think you can cover the tab, even if your male counterparts are making more.
American Sniper, by far the most successful movie of the year, came away mostly empty. Bradley Cooper? Nothing. Clint Eastwood? Nothing. The movie? Best sound editing. Best effing sound editing. Top honors instead went to “Birdman”, directed by Inarritu.
There were eight movies nominated for Best Picture. Confession: I have not seen most of them. It is therefore quite possible that the best movie won and all the awards went to their rightful place. I’m still left with the impression that “American Sniper” was a purposeful snub. Am I just a whiny victim of chafing? Perhaps. I can’t be alone. Sniper grossed more money than six of the other seven nominees combined. While these awards have nothing to do with box office receipts, they are a good indication of what the viewing public thought of the movie. It’s not as if Sniper was a mind-less war-flick with nifty action scenes. It was much more, as anyone who saw it will readily attest.
Then again, maybe I’m the stereotype – the guy who just doesn’t appreciate true art. I don’t think that’s the case, but if it is, I can live with it. I know for certain that I won’t watch the Oscars next year, even if it requires full retreat with a book and a glass of wine to avoid the television. My hypocrisy only goes so far.