Sunday, February 27, 2005

What I won't be doing tonight...

Tonight is Oscar Night. Actors, actresses, singers, photographers, camera operators, and fans are all frantically preparing for seeing and being seen on The Red Carpet, the nervousness of awaiting the announcements of the winners, and then party-hopping from one gala event to the next. If they had the good fortune to be invited to the ceremony and then the parties to follow. And if they were able to starve, enema, and dehydrate themselves sufficiently enough to fit into their gowns and tuxedos. Undoubtedly millions of people around the world will gather around their televisions to watch the parade of stars and wait with bated breath to see if their favorite actor or actress will be chosen to take home a gold statue and be forever remembered for superior performances on the silver screen. I will not be among those millions.

I feel myself slipping into another of my hyper-cynical moods this afternoon. Well, actually I’m in a great mood, but it’s all this Oscar buzz that has me in a tizzy. I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up straight when I think of the inordinate amount of time, energy, publicity, money, pomp and circumstance that is spent on this ceremony. Over the past few weeks, I have been bombarded with commercials on television, in the newspaper, on the radio, and in magazines about the Oscars. Don’t miss the Oscars! Don’t miss Joan and her daughter’s pre-Oscar show about what everyone is wearing! Chris Rock is hosting! Oprah will air her show from the Kodak Theater on Monday! Watch her show to find out what the parties were like, who celebrated with whom, where, when and for how long!

Tonight the world will watch the wealthy and the thin stand before cameras smiling fully, waving animatedly, and wobbling unsteadily on legs of rubber as the contemplate both the humiliation of loss and the unlikelihood of winning all the while wearing gowns, jewelry, and tuxedos they don’t even own. Except for Oprah that is; she never wears things she doesn’t own. There will be reporters praising the impeccable taste of the well dressed and reducing the poorly dressed to the ash heap of society. FOR WHAT??? Other than those whose names are pulled from those envelopes, precious few lives will be changed in one way or another as a result of tonight’s festivities.

I ask myself questions like these. Does a single one of those people care who watches that show tonight? Do they care whether or not I saw any of their movies? Do they care what I’m wearing tonight? Do they care that I own all the jewelry I’m wearing at the moment? Do they care that I don’t care about the Oscars?

On a more serious note, do they care that I spent time on the platform at church this morning beside a Pastor from Spain who shared great jokes and great stories about what God is doing in his country and that I translated his wonderful accounts from Spanish into English? Does it matter to them that there are no bright lights, no cameras on his church in Madrid, but that lives have been transformed because of the work that Pastor has done and because of what God has done? On Oscar night, doesn’t it matter that there are still thousands of people still without homes after this past summer’s hurricanes in Florida and the Caribbean? What about all the displaced and orphaned in the war-torn and tsunami-ravaged places around the world? What about all the hungry families within blocks of the Kodak theater and the restaurants that are preparing $1000 meals all over that city who will go to bed hungry at the same time that overpriced food is thrown away? After all, there’s no room in that rented gown for a single chocolate Oscar statue powdered with edible gold dust.

I know, I know. I take all this stuff too seriously. I have no right to deny anyone their right to celebrate whatever they want to celebrate whenever they choose to. I hear my critics saying aloud, “Lighten up, Gail. Everybody has a right to spend their money as they choose. Everyone has a right to party, to dance, to laugh.” Absolutely. I love a good glass of wine along with most people. I love to dance and laugh and celebrate life. However, I am increasingly skeptical of, increasingly dissatisfied with, and increasingly disturbed by all the partying and celebrating that I do, that we do in this world that has absolutely no real value. Celebrate new life. Celebrate marriage. Celebrate friendship. Heck, throw spontaneous surprise parties for your loved ones. But spending millions of dollars to commemorate the expenditure of millions of dollars in the making of movies that add almost no value to the lives of anyone other than the movie- makers themselves – that smacks of excess to me. “Oh Gail, you’re just jealous of their good fortune, tiny waistlines, and fiercely sculpted upper bodies.” Perhaps that’s true. I’d love to lose five more pounds and do a few more push-ups. But I certainly do not envy their broken marriages, alcohol and drug addictions, and all the fear and self-loathing that seem so much a part of life in Tinsel Town.

Perhaps what I really feel is sorrow and compassion. It does matter to me that Brad and Jennifer broke up. It matters to me that Tom and Nicole’s children have to shuttle from house to house to visit with their parents. It breaks my heart that Ben and Whitney and Ashley and so many others find so little satisfaction with all their great successes that they must drink, smoke, and starve themselves into near oblivion in order to gain the love that they all and we all crave. Perhaps it’s not only love they are seeking, but also peace, joy, some level of self-control, and probably even things I cannot imagine and don’t know anything about.

One thing I do know is this: winning an Oscar will not give anyone more than a temporary victory. Tomorrow when the hang-over wears off, every single one of them will have to get up and face another camera, memorize another line, squeeze into another costume, and pray that somewhere along the line, somewhere at the end of all the hard work, there will be some prize, some award that makes all of their toil worthwhile. Silly me, optimistic me, na├»ve me – I pray that someday they will find The Answer to their questions. I pray that they will meet The One who is The Source of Joy Unspeakable. I will pray that they meet, not The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but the Prince of Peace and that they will come to know His Peace that Passes all Understanding.

In any event, tonight I will not be watching The Oscars.

No comments: