Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hey Mom, Look at Me!

Do you want to know what I found most strange about the Academy Awards this year?  No, it wasn't John Travolta introducing Broadway superstar and Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel as "Adele Dazeem" (what in the world...?) and it wasn't even his bad hairpiece (Dear balding men of the universe:  Own your hair loss, don't let it own you).

No, it was all the nominated actors who showed up to the ceremony with their mothers.

Yes, I know, it's supposed to be sweet. "Awww, look how cute!  Leonardo DiCaprio loves his mommy!"  And it's certainly nice when mothers support their sons.  But if Leonardo DiCaprio were my son, I wouldn't want to support him so much as wash his mouth out with soap.

His film, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a record breaker: 506 F-words packed into its 180 minute running time.  That's almost 3 F-words a minute, for those of you trying to do the math.  (At that rate it's a wonder there is room for any other words).

And it's just the beginning of the movie's debauchery.  According to the Parent's Guide on IMDB, the movie's R-rating is not so much an adherence to a particular standard as it is a technicality.  With enough graphic and depraved sexual content to cause the devil himself to squirm, Scorcese's Best Picture nominee doesn't belong on the Oscar podium as much as it belongs in the sewer.

And yet, DiCaprio wasn't the only "Wolf of Wall Street" actor who brought his mother to the ceremony.  His co-star, Jonah Hill, (nominated for a performance that included... um... nope, I won't tell you.  There is not enough brain bleach in the world to allow me to unread what I read) also hit the Red Carpet with his mother on his arm.


Hey Mom, look at me!  Well... uh... maybe after this scene... no, after the next one.  Oh, and plug your ears...

I can concede that some stories should be told no matter how shocking their subject matter (Schindler's List, for example, or this year's Best Picture nominee, 12 Years a Slave).  But just as long strings of expletives do nothing to enhance a conversation, graphic portrayals of sex and violence do nothing to enhance the storytelling.  We do not need to see a whip slashing into someone's back to know what happened.  We do not need to see the up-close and disturbing details of a sexual encounter.  True achievement in film-making is not just found in knowing when to hold the camera steady, it's in knowing when to avert its eye.  An expert filmmaker should be able to make us feel without always having to see.

And yet the entertainment industry continues to produce and fawn over films that shock instead of inspire, that debase instead of uplift.  They forget that showing reality is not the only means of knowing reality.  Some things are better left unsaid.  Some things are better left unseen.  And some things are better left uncelebrated.

Especially by Mom.

1 comment:

MyDonkeySix said...

Amen! And that is why Alfred Hitchcock was such a genius because he made us "feel" without having to "see". Sigh.