I believe we all have stories to tell and it’s important to share them. This is probably why I love books and movies and why I majored in theatre. So despite not seeing any of the nominated movies, I watched the Oscars last night.
Now I’m not big on the whole “celebrity culture” thing, but I think it’s cool that some folks get to tell other people’s stories and get paid for it. They might write the words or they might say the words, but either way they are telling a story that someone needs to hear. Whether it’s a true story or a fantasy, a story we’ve all heard before but never tire of hearing, or a story that can only be expressed through song or dance — regardless, as a culture we have decided these storytellers are important. So much so that entire (profitable) industries have been created around them.
However at this point in our society, we’ve elevated this industry to the point of worship. We’ve put gifted storytellers in positions that may have nothing to do with their jobs. We are so blinded by their beauty and import that when a pretty one is interviewed, she is asked about the clothes she put on to celebrate the awards show versus the work or the story that led her to that show.
These women and men, who are often passionate about the stories they’ve been paid to tell, are put on a pedestal. Some would rather not be and others only want the pedestal. Some have no interest in the pedestal but want to make the best of the situation they are in, yet aren’t sure how. And then there are those who have been on the pedestal so long their behavior is baffling and offensive, John Travolta.
We The People watch the awards shows on our super huge TVs in towns across the USA, far away from the actual show, and stare with the same fascination with which we watch storylines unfold in the fictional movies that the actors, directors, writers, editors, and costumers work so hard to create. But it’s not a movie — it’s real life. Just not a life we can relate to.
We try anyway, bored with the in’s and out’s of our own lives. But we weren’t the ones who had to grin and bear it while an industry peer touched our face and talked down to us in front of millions. We didn’t have to stand in front of cameras and crowds on the Red Carpet while being assaulted by a so-called peer. We weren’t required to find the strength to speak a truth (that would likely be criticized) while standing on stage in front of a global audience. That wasn’t our real life, but it was real for some on Sunday night.
So why do I watch the Oscars anyway? I mean, without skin in the game, what’s in it for me?
I watch for those moments of joy that happen when someone achieves something they weren’t sure was possible. I watch for the speeches meant to lift others up. I watch for the slices of truth that often present themselves in extra-ordinary situations. I watch for the same reasons I watch the movies the Oscars honor: I watch for the stories.
Our stories must be told; the fictional stories and the real stories. If that means a celebrity uses an awards show platform for truth telling, we need to understand that that is not outside of her job description. It is what she (or he) has built a career doing.
Fiction or non-fiction, ALL stories contain truth. Actors, writers, directors are truth tellers. They aren’t going to stop telling the truth just because they don’t have a script.
So bring on the controversies. Bring on the tear jerker speeches. Bring on the truth telling on a public stage at the Academy Awards. Because if these professional truth tellers don’t do it, who will?