By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock
The absolutely last place I ever expected to learn anything important was sitting in front of the television watching the Academy Awards.
I gave up watching the annual awards show years ago, finding it silly and boring. Hollywood and its elites at their worst.
I’m not the only one. Viewership of the awards show has declined over the past decade with the 2021 show seeing a 56-per-cent drop in viewership from the previous year.
But there I was Sunday night, sprawled in my TV chair, watching unkempt and badly dressed men (and very loosely clad women) movie stars smirking at badly told jokes.I ended up in front of the TV because it was a bitterly cold night (well into the minus 20s considering the wind chill) and I needed to stay up late feeding the woodstove so it would build good coals for overnight.
And that’s when I learned just what an angry and violent place our world has become.
My eyelids were starting to droop when Will Smith, who won the best actor Oscar, jumped from his seat in the audience, strode to the stage and slapped show host Chris Rock in the face.
At first, I thought it was a pre-planned piece of awards show silliness, but it was a real slap, delivered with rea l anger. Smith returned to his seat, and shouted “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth.”
Rock, a stand-up comedian, had made a very stupid attempted joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who appeared at the show with a shaved head look.
“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it . . . ,” Rock cracked to Pinkett Smith.
It was a reference to the 1997 GI Jane movie in which Demi Moore shaved her head to portray a Navy Seal recruit. Pinkett Smith shaved her head because she has been diagnosed with alopecia, a hair loss condition.
Not very funny and easy to understand why Smith was upset, although his reaction surely would have been calmer and more reasonable in a less angry world.
It was a scene that supports a 2020 – 21 Gallup poll finding that the world is becoming more unhappy and angrier.
The poll, called the Global Emotions Report, surveyed 160,000 people in 116 countries and found the world a sadder, angrier, more worried and stressed-out place than any time in the last 15 years.
We read, hear and view stories about how angry and intolerant the world has become. But when actors start assaulting each other live on international television you know that intolerance and anger is out of control.
The Academy Awards show was followed by late night television news reporting more doses of anger and intolerance. The lead item was angry reaction to U.S, President Biden saying Russian president Putin “cannot remain in power.”
The media and others made this into the U.S. president calling for regime change in Russia. It wasn’t. It was simply Biden’s opinion that Putin is a brutal butcher who should not have power over anything.
That’s what he thinks, that’s what he said out loud. So, what’s to be shocked or angry about?
However, in an angry and intolerant world there is no time nor patience for thinking things through and trying to understand what someone has said or done. Contradiction and yelling are quicker and easier.
What’s interesting – and hopeful – about Sunday’s Academy Awards is the contradiction between the show itself and the movies nominated for awards.
The show participants appeared to be a stressed, unhappy bunch – angry and violent in the case of Will Smith; uninformed or intolerant in the case of Chris Rock.
Many of the movies being celebrated, however, were about how understanding and love can overcome anger, intolerance and tribalism to make for a better world.
CODA, King William and West Side Story are movies with sadness, anger and violence but they give viewers a sense of hope for a better future. Even The Power of the Dog, which I thought was a bad film while others loved it, shows us that accepting and struggling to overcome our problems can make the world a less angry and better place for all.