Letter #658: Oscars Observations

Dear Oscars,

On a night filled with glitter, glitz, fame, fashion and all of Hollywood’s finest, you did not disappoint.

From Ellen ordering pizza, to John Travolta butchering Idina Menzel’s name, to my sister texting me to ask if Ellen really broke Twitter, you had some good flair.

And don’t forget Meryl Streep’s shimmy, Jennifer Lawrence’s red carpet fall (the bloopers from her playing Katniss have to be hilarious), the selfie Bradley Cooper took with the most famous people in it ever and so much more.

I haven’t seen any of the films that were up for awards except for Frozen (hi, my name is Lindsay, and I work at a summer camp!), so my level of interest was minimal concerning who won. There are a few more movies on my list to see now, but I was mostly watching to laugh and be aware of what’s happening in culture. You met my needs.

I don’t love awards shows, but I half-heartedly watched part of you while getting my life in order for the week and read tweets after that made me laugh. Seriously, Twitter is at its prime during live events.

So in the midst of everyone else analyzing dress/designer choices, celebrity interactions and every other detail of these mere human beings lives that we tend treat as our modern day Captain Americas, I have three random thoughts:

  1. Making people laugh is not easy. Can you imagine being responsible for the entertainment of thousands at an event , most of which are entertainers themselves, on top of millions viewing from home? It can’t be easy, but when you’re good at it, it has to be the most fun thing ever. Ellen is really good at it. I have LOTS to learn before my future stand up career. 🙂
  2. Speeches. They’re either really good or well, REALLY BAD. You have to love a speech that pulls out of the self-centeredness that is Hollywood and points people to something greater. Lupita Nyong’o”s speech was remarkable. “…no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Keep dreaming world.
  3. Matthew McConaughey. I’m still trying to wrap my arms around him. He’s a bit all over the place, but I appreciate his authenticity. Again, he stepped outside of himself and made his speech more purposeful than it had to be. His ideas on needing “someone to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase” come with great depth. I don’t know what he actually believes, but thanks for acknowledging God’s role in your talents. Thanks for celebrating your family, specifically your wife and kids. It’s rare a traditional family, the kind seen scripturally, is celebrated these days. Thanks for thinking outside of the hero box and giving each of us something to strive for as well as pushing us to live with purpose when you said yourself in 10 years is who you’re always chasing. I’m sure I analyzed your words far more than most, but I appreciate the depth and vulnerability you showed.

All in all, you didn’t disappoint. I’m always blown away by the amount of money, time and energy invested in events like you, but I am also surprised by your ability to draw awareness through the celebration of cinema. Millions of people are more aware slavery still exists today because “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture. Steve McQueen’s speech: “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live”…I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

Until next time,

Oscars observer

Letter #398: The Help

Dear Jackson,

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve heard of and possibly even read the book, The Help. The book was such a success that they made it into a movie. I’ve only seen the movie at this point, but I’ll read it before too long. You are where the plot is set. The story of black maids in Mississippi is told through the eyes of a white, female reporter in the 1960s. From what I’ve heard the movie did a fairly good job staying true to the book. I’ll say this…it’s absolutely worth seeing.

While you are where the plot was set, most of the filming took place in Greenwood. However, you did get a small portion of filming, and I ate lunch at the place part of it happened! While driving from Clinton to Starkville, my team and I stopped in you for lunch with a couple of my Institute classmates. Caroline knows I love adventure and chose Brent’s Drug as our location. Brent’s has been around since 1946 and is one of few places you have that’s the same as the 60s would have been. Replay the movie in your head. Remember the part where Skeeter walks in the diner and none of the pompous white women will speak to her?! Yup, that’s Brent’s!!!

Institute Reunion...note the mug that happened to be in the diner!

Of course I had to asks the employees questions about how all this went down. They shut the place down for a week to film just a few short minutes of the movie. All the employees were paid like normal but had a week off! One guy even told me Brent’s got a new floor out of the deal. The cashier said the place was constantly packed from open to close for two straight months after the releae of the film with people from literally all over the world. Crazy how much ruckus Hollywood can create!

Brent's Drug with Caroline...thanks for the experience!

Great burgers and shakes. Even more fun to hear stories about Hollywood. Even better to get to catch up with Mississippi friends. More than that, it made me think about the movie again. I never fully processed the film afterward. Sometimes a movie is just a movie. An opportunity to shut off the thinker and be entertained.

Other times movies make you think. This was one of those. I was baffled by how much the white children loved their help but how quickly their flip of hatred and injustice could be switched once they reached a certain age. It was a vicious cycle. Culture, the way things were and society defined the way white people viewed the help.

While we all know how this played out in the next few years with civil rights and Martin Luther King, I don’t want to miss out on what I can learn concerning 2011. What injustice is our culture telling us is ok today? How am I letting my childhood innocence be destroyed by our society? I haven’t figured out how I’m failing yet, but I will continue to be aware and fight the temptation of letting this happen in my life. May Hollywood not just entertain but also challenge our way of thinking.

In the words of Aibileen, “You is smart; you is kind; you’s important,”

Movie learner