Goldfinger! I can't get that song out of my head from last night's Oscars. Wasn't it so great that Shirley Bassey rocked it out of the park? She's 76 years old for crissake. She recorded that song almost fifty years ago!!
Moments like that are what's best about the Oscars. We're not only reminded what is great about the art. We're reminded it sometimes takes feats of human greatness to produce it. Strip away all the red carpet, incessant talk about what people are wearing etc. and we're left with the essence of movies: humans trying to better understand humans through portrayal. That's what their trying to award. Who's bringing so much of their own humanity to bare that it can't help but resonate with the audience.
Oh yeah, the audience. Did you notice that we recently went from getting box office results reported on a Sunday to getting them daily? Thursday's results Friday morning. Uh oh, the such and such Tom Cruise vehicle is off to a rough start or whatever. And the metric is all about the benjamins. How many millions did this take? How long will it take to break even on that enormous production cost? Oh, that producer is going to be rich. The other one will be "exploring other opportunities."
Lost in this horse race reporting is the fact that every one of those dollars comes from a human being. They've worked to earn that money and they're more interested in whether the movie will be any good than how lucrative it is for the studio. They make their plans with family, friends or sometimes just solo to enjoy some entertainment and perhaps gain some enlightenment. They often drive to the theater some miles away, gain admittance, buy some popcorn and then look for the best seat. The lights dim and it's showtime. The "they"? They're you and me.
And were it you or me in the Century 20 in Aurora, Colorado just past midnight on July 20th, 2012, about thirty minutes after the lights dimmed you would be getting shot at and maybe killed. Twelve people died from gunshot wounds, another seventy were wounded.
It was one of the biggest mass shootings in American history. And it was carried out on a group of people so anxious to see the opening of a movie that they went to a midnight show.
2012 was a fairly normal year in movies. The best picture, actor, director nods were all certainly a good crop but nothing was so unusually good that we'll be talking about them forever. What was really important in 2012 was that this tragedy shook us. And then the Sandyhook tragedy would finally wake us from our sleep. I don't know what will happen next. But at least the conversation has changed. We really don't have to accept the ridiculous level of gun violence in this country if we don't want to.
Ultimately watching a 76 year old woman sing a Bond song to a billion people like she's some sort of Bond girl isn't just a thrill. It's about real life. People's lives have an arc. Youth followed by middle age followed by old age followed by death. No doubt so many of us aren't so lucky to have a chance at the whole thing. The average age of the Aurora victims killed was 26.
The Oscars missed an enormous opportunity to acknowledge the real life and death gun violence tragedies this country has been going through. The industry should count itself lucky people continued going to the movies after Aurora. Even that movie, The Dark Knight Rises, didn't suffer. Couldn't the Academy have done a one minute segment for the Aurora victims? If not an entire minute, even a brief listing of their names in the "In Memoriam" segment would have worked. Neither seems enough but something would have been a million times better than nothing.
We have to remember or else we become desensitized. I will do what they did not.
|Alexander J. Boik|
|Alexander C. Teves|