Celebrities are just like us! Even US Weekly says so. They pump their own gas, go to the grocery store, and go out in public sans makeup.
Yet once a year the Academy Awards telecast reveals too many stars don’t “get” America. Sure, they talk a good game. They preach the glories of the First Amendment and the healing power of the arts.
But their celebrity version of America is too often unplugged from the lives of everyday citizens—even if we all leave the house without lipstick on occasion.
Let’s start with Viola Davis, the gifted actress who earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar Sunday for her role in Fences. Her speech pushed politics aside for simple, heartfelt gratitude. She talked about telling stories, adoring her spouse and her personal faith.
She really is “just like us.” Then she uncorked this:
“I became an artist and thank God I did . . . because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
Huh? Suddenly, those chest-thumping journalists look positively humble in comparison.”
It was hardly the night’s only head-scratching moment, even without mentioning EnvelopeGate, the disastrous Best Picture winner imbroglio.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi didn’t show up to accept his Oscar for The Salesman. Why? He wanted to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. His angry acceptance speech, which was read on his behalf during the ceremony, proved the night’s most political moment. “My absence is out of respect for the people in my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US,” he said.
Inhumane? Are other nations inhumane when they try to control the flow of folks migrating to their land? And does that mean that the majority of Americans who support such policies are also inhumane? Is he really clueless as to why those seven nations were singled out?
Farhadi wasn’t finished.
“Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” the note went on. Did Farhadi mention his own nation, a certified terrorism sponsor? Of course not. Trump is the villain according to Hollywood.
Actor Gael Garcia Bernal of Desierto fame helped present awards in the animation category. So naturally he also used his stage time to blast Trump’s border policies. “As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that separates us,” he railed.
Of course, these are the same assembled celebrities happy to enjoy their evening while surrounding by every possible security professional available to them, including many men and women armed to the teeth circling the Dolby Theatre to prevent terrorism or other trouble. These are also the same celebrities who live their lives in gated communities, safe from the realities outside their compounds.
The team behind Zootopia, a sophisticated animated comedy about tolerance, also used their podium time to hammer home the progressive immigration canard. “We are so grateful to the audiences all over the world that embraced this film with this story of tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other,” they said on stage.
Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning Moonlight, also assumed battle stations during his acceptance speech: “The Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you,” he said.
Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel joked about “Fake News” throughout the night, a term concocted by journalists to discredit Trump’s administration. But like badly-rendered C.G.I., the public sees through Hollywood’s supposed crusade “fake news.” Right-of-center news outlets have been dutifully keeping tabs on the crush of actual “fake news” stories published to undermine the new president. Meanwhile, the public’s trust in the media continues to crater.
Unless they stop their overtly partisan hectoring, Hollywood might end up suffering from a similar loss of the public’s good will. One thing, however, is abundantly clear after this year’s Academy Awards. Stars: They’re definitely not like us.