Sunday, March 05, 2006


Tonight we had a couple friends over and we half-watched the Oscars and half-played a not-so-rousing game of Settlers. I had only seen a few of the movies that were nominated for anything--one of which was Crash, and I'm glad it won some stuff. It's 11:00 here and our friends went home so I don't know who won best picture yet, but oh well.

Anyway, I thought it was really interesting how it seemed like they were going out of their way this year to remind themselves how great movies are, how they say so much about the human condition, how they speak truth about issues we're not willing to face as a society and push the envelope in ways that shape America positively. I don't know what I think about that. Yes, I think movies can be helpful, can give us information and thoughts to chew on, can open up worlds that we never knew existed, or worlds that don't exist that tell us something about ourselves.

But I especially liked John Stewart's line about all the women in Hollywood who are slaving away and working so hard at being beautiful for us all and yet still hardly have enough money to buy a dress that fully covers their breasts.... John Stewart's great. If we had a TV I'd watch The Daily Show, but we don't so I don't.

It's great when Hollywood uses its power and high profile to say something important, to bring to light important issues. And it's good when individual famous actors and musicians use their fame for something good. But it seemed tonight like they were really trying hard to convince themselves that they're doing something good for the world. Is it true? What do you all think?

I think in some ways they are doing something important, in that it's part of who we are as humans that we need stories. We need to be part of stories, we need to have stories that tell us who we are and call us to something more. Movies can do this sometimes, and I've written about two in the last couple of weeks that have affected me in deep ways. But at the same time, movies are often used by our society as ways to "escape." Do we need to "escape"? Or have we just convinced ourselves that we "deserve" to escape, to not have to think for a while, to have someone entertain us and create something beautiful before our eyes?

Would there be a better way for us to be involved in the human story? Are there better ways to let down and relax? Are we entitled to escape from the evils of the world? Are we entitled to only see the evils of the world in movies, where we can tell ourselves that it's not real?

As Quakers, how do we balance our simplicity beliefs with this entertainment-oriented culture? And do we join in with popular ways to "speak truth to power," or are there other more helpful ways to go about getting the world's attention than through Hollywood?

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