By David Eaton
“If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well governed, if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will furnish the answer.”
I contemplated his observation as I watched the telecast of last month’s 88th Academy Awards. If we were to substitute the word “music” with “cinema” or “culture,” the Chinese sage might be more than a bit angst-ridden given the tone and tenor of the Oscars.
Predictably, the show’s host, Chris Rock, pummeled the Hollywood establishment for its lack of racial diversity among the nominees — a major issue in the run-up to the Oscars. But not far from the surface was Hollywood’s seemingly incessant need to sexualize the proceedings. Comedienne Sarah Silverman’s riff on sexual intercourse viz. James Bond, and Rock’s quips, about helping the show’s music director “get l__d at the Governor’s Ball” and the panties of a female pop star in the audience, were reminders of Hollywood’s duplicity in matters of sexual probity.
I wondered how Chris Rock’s Girl Scout daughters reacted to Silverman and their dad’s overt sexual suggestiveness. Surely they were watching (as I was with my 21-year old daughter), and I cringed at the vulgar and completely unnecessary sexual repartee. But here again was an example of the in-your-face sexuality Hollywood both glorifies and aggressively markets while attempting to be viewed as virtuous on other social matters.
To be fair, the serious issue of sexual abuse was front-and-center at the Oscars with “Spotlight” spotlighting the problems within the Catholic Church (and winning Best Picture). “The Hunting Ground,” dealing with the problem of campus rape, was not nominated for Best Documentary Film, but the film’s song, “Til It Happens To You,” was a nominee for Best Original Song.