Monday, March 3, 2014

The Year of "We're In This Together" At The 85th Academy Awards

The 85th Annual Academy Awards are in the books. Like most other pop culture freaks and movie lovers, I was glued to my television taking it all in into the wee hours of the night. There are so many themes to tackle but I am choosing the pattern I saw in acceptance speeches this year. Perhaps it was indicative of the crowd that won the big honors last night, but I saw a whole lot of humility in most of the big award acceptance speeches.

Best Supporting Actor  winner Jared Leto started it out with his salute to his (and by proxy all) single mom then moved to touching on the youth justice movements in the Ukraine and Venezuela. He finished with compassionate words for AIDS victims and the LGBT community.  As the first acceptance speech of the evening, I may be giving too much credit to Mr. Leto but it certainly stands to reason that he set the tone for an evening of humility and graciousness that I have not seen at awards ceremony in a while.

Best Supporting Actress winner Lupita Nyong'o's words, "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else's" or "When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child, no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid," give me the same chills as I write them today that I got when I heard her voice firmly declare them last evening.

I was moved by the general "we're in this together" tone of the speeches. It was repeated over and over again throughout the night. There appeared to be a lot less long lists of individual credits but more general encouragement toward groups of people. There was a much more palatable sense of family credit amongst the winners - family of origin as well as "created family" credit given. Even Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey's speech, that many found to be arrogant in the social media world in the immediate moments after it was given, had credit for his win spread to those closest in his life and God. Best Adapted Screenplay winner John Ridley gave credit to people who believed in him in the his early Hollywood writing days as well as Solomon Northrop whose story he had the honor to adapt for this year's Best Picture winner, 12 Years As A Slave.  Best Actress nod Cate Blanchett lifted women in Hollywood and women in general during her speech.

It's no coincidence that the tone of the speeches was more uniting than normal. We are living in a very divided era in our country and in the world. Look at the headlines, scour the internet for headlines they are not writing and you will find division, desperation and a demand for something different, something more. People want to be seen and people want to be heard. More than ever, we all need encouragement and reinforcement that we matter and that all people matter. I am proud of the Hollywood elite recognizing that while they had the world captivated for 4 straights hours, they could use their influence to pull us together, even if only slightly. Acknowledging heroes past, ordinary parents who did their best and produced extraordinary children or groups of people who struggle just to feel part of this life - Hollywood nailed it last night.

We are all in this together and it's high time we start acknowledging that fact. Thanks Hollywood for the reminder.

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