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Anyone else find the Academy Awards condemning?

February 23, 2009

milkThe Academy Awards put a challenge to the Church in the U.S. last night.

I admit I have not seen most of the movies that were up for awards last night. I hadn’t even heard of many of them, which made the opening number less than dramatic ’cause I didn’t get most of the references. You start to get the idea after a couple dozen clips, though, and unless I’m terribly mistaken, the only one that had much to say about anything was Milk (a documentary about Harvey Milk).

Milk left with two gilded bald men and both acceptance speeches, of course, became brief platforms for (and I’m honestly going to say this as correctly and inoffensively as I know how) gay rights/pro-homosexual lifestyle bits. I don’t blame either of the artists for doing so either; if you believe strongly in something by all means use whatever public platform you have to talk about it. Neither do I refute the artists who won. Sean Penn is a great actor and I’m sure Dustin Lance Black did a great job on the screenplay.

What I found condemning was the conversation – hardly spoken but nevertheless present – about homosexuality specifically, and the lack of conversation about anything else.

First, it took a young, homosexual man whom no one has ever heard of to stand before the nation, deliberately address young people struggling in their sexuality, and tell them – passionately – that God loves them. I don’t buy the lie that all churches and pastors and Christians badger and condemn LGBT people. I know that’s not true. I also know that there are church leaders trying to communicate that same message that are being accused and ignored. Still, we – the Church – aren’t doing a good enough job loving them. If we were, Black’s speech wouldn’t have moved anyone to tears.

Further, Sean Penn referenced a crowd outside the theater with “signs” during his acceptance speech. He didn’t elaborate because he didn’t have to. There was a crowd of “conservatives” outside the awards spewing hate (probably in God’s name) at the gay community and anyone involved in Milk.

That was the conversation. And that’s disgusting.

Second, the lack of redemptive art was disconcerting. Again, I realize the bias in Hollywood, but let’s not pretend that any morally upstanding – let alone gospel-inspired – film (or script or actor) that may have come out in 2008 came close. How many of us could say, “I can’t believe Fireproof wasn’t nominated …” with a straight face?

Where are the Christian artists? Have we nothing to say? Is our faith too weak to hold up under the pressures of working in Hollywood? Where’s the dialogue between great films, writing, or acting that hold to different standards?

Bill Mar can beat his dead horse and feel sorry for himself until the next award ceremony for all I care. If you ask me, the most scathing review of the faith was the lack of conversation last night.

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