I will admit that I am a sucker for awards season: The Oscars, Golden Globes, and all of the various nonsense that is self-congratulatory at worst and recognizing great art at best. I love movies and I own approximately 500 movies. My mom and I call it “The Collection,” so naturally I like to see what movie or television series is the award-winning plum.
That being said, it has become an increasingly common occurrence that we are being held hostage to celebrities using the forum of internationally viewed programming to spout views about politics, sexual harassment, and personal causes, whether it be about Tibet or global warming.
This usage of a platform for spreading a message is not a new trend among celebs. In fact, Marlon Brando sent a Native American Apache named Sachem Little Feather to decline his Academy Award, supposedly in protest of the treatment of Native American Indians in the movie industry. As it turned out, this Apache woman was an actress hired for the role.
We have seen and heard Meryl Streep, Michael Moore, and Oprah, among many others, all take the stage and declare some kind of message to the world. However, all that you and I signed up for when we tuned in was a night of entertainment, silliness, awards, and finding out if our favorite movie, album, or series won big.
When I was in high school, I had an assignment to write about what celebrity influenced me greatly and one who had an influence on the culture. I wrote about Audrey Hepburn, and not because I thought she was unique and quite beautiful. She was one of the first celebrities to very publicly use her fame and forum to work with UNICEF. She traveled, made speeches, and educated the world about the horrific conditions many did not know about in the pre-technological age. She used her fame for something well above the usual self-involvement that celebrity careers adhere to.
As for tuning in to programming that recognizes great music, movies, and television, I am decidedly undecided about whether it is a good thing to grab that international audience and use it for universal messages. I also understand that much of it can be about self-posturing, pontificating, and definitely not about saying anything material to those watching.
As an opinions editor and writer, I can only say that I think using your platform for good, as Audrey did, is not a bad thing, but must meet some criterion: Your message must not be about a personal cause. It must not be about the trend of the day. It must be unique, not strident, and allow for some real exchange of ideology.
I also wish—no, demand—that Hollywood actors and/or musical artists recognize that it is very hard for the rest of us to hear the lessons of life from the most entitled, spoiled, and out of touch individuals in this society. Just saying. But if you go there, you had better bring it and take us to church.
Photo Credits: The New York Times