Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The Academy loves Gore; Oprah loves the Academy
After Sunday night, one thing's for sure...the Academy loves Gore! And I'm not talking just about "An Inconvenient Truth"...but the Best Picture winner is a gore-fest of violence. I thought maybe, just maybe, "Little Miss Sunshine" or "The Queen" would upset the prognosticators, much the way a little film about racism and coincidences of convenience crashed last year's expected win for an unconventional love story. But beyond that, it was great to see Gore get some recognition for his passion...the environment. True to form...he may have won the Oscar for his documentary, but he doesn't get to take one home to put on his mantel. He won it for someone else. I was pleased to see the director allow time for Gore to give an acceptance speech. Earlier in the broadcast, he did a brilliant joke with Leo DiCaprio about making an announcement that a billion people were awaiting to hear, when the orchestra cut him off in mid-sentence. It was good schtick, but I knew he wasn't going to announce anything. I'll have to post later what I think of the race to the White House in 2008, but for now, it was good to see Gore get the accolades he so deserves. Hopefully this is just the forerunner to the Nobel Peace Prize selection later this year.
The next day, the rightwing hacks were already out with their messages of hate. It's always so amazing to me how a politician can tell an unpopular truth (such as Gore did with his stance against the Iraq War), yet the rightwing bloviators will spin and spin their propaganda and lies in hopes of deceiving the people, while they ignore the lies and false predictions made by their chosen politicians. How many more soldiers are going to return home in coffins or with life-threatening injuries instead of the flowers and chocolates that Rumsfeld and Cheney promised would happen? How long does it take for a group to dissolve after being in its "last throes"? What about those WMD that Rumsfeld swore was in the "Tikrit Triangle north of Baghdad." He was so confident he knew where they were. Condi said that we didn't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. But maybe, "mushrooms" are exactly what the rightwing has been smoking these past few years. After Katrina, propaganda from the Bush team seems to have fallen on deaf ears. How appropriate. Everyone is probably familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf. He loved to rile his townfolks up, but when the wolf really did come, no one believed him and he got swallowed up in his own lies. So...the more the rightwing attack people like Gore, the better Gore looks. So, thank you Academy voters for giving him a great night. He deserves that and more for the trying year that was late 2000 and 2001.
Flipping the switch, last night, I watched Oprah's special on the new Leadership Academy for Girls that she has founded in South Africa. I also read a tabloid article critiquing her for spending over $40 million to establish a school in her name far off in South Africa when we have so many poor, inner city children in our own country. I honestly don't like the me-firstism that some people think should guide our actions. The poverty in South Africa is a lot worse than in the U.S.A. I know. I was there in 1994 and saw Soweto with my own eyes. It was the most eye-opening experience I had ever had. I had never seen poverty like that before. It was unbelievable. Even poor people in the U.S. have television sets. Do they know what it's like to live in a shack made of 5 sheets of aluminum? How many Americans use outhouses still? With half the world's population living on less than $2 a day, why begrudge Oprah for the charity that she's doing in a country that really needs it. We should support and foster relations with South Africa, because it is perhaps the country that resembles a photo negative of the USA. Our two nations are alike in many ways, with a similar history of racial segregation; pioneers settling the interior; and our beginnings as an outpost colony for the British Empire.
Oprah is right when she said that the materialism of American kids drove her to help poor children in another country. There is something so repugnant about our materialist culture that has warped even the children who live in poverty. Who can blame them, though? Because they have television and go to school here, they can see the emphasis people put on material goods, whether in hip-hop/rap videos ("in America, it's bling-bling; out here, it's bling-bang" said Leo DiCaprio's character in "Blood Diamond"), on TV commercials, in conversations people have, on entertainment shows and magazines. Other countries don't have our crass materialism, so I praise Oprah for doing something good with her money. Before people criticize her for the charity work she does, they should put their own money into causes they believe in. We might not all have $40 million to spend, but I'm willing to bet that most of her critics would spend $40 million on themselves first before they spent it helping inner city American children. If they really cared about inner city children that much, do they vote Republican? Do they write to their political leaders and lobby on behalf of the poor? Or would they rather go shopping and vote for tax cuts and war? It's hard to say...but our country didn't find itself in the mess it's in because people were conscientious about their money. I think it says more about the critics than it does about Oprah.