Many of us love movies but absolutely abhor award shows, especially the Academy Awards. Among the reasons the Oscars arouse such passionately conflicting opinions is disagreement over the winners of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Actor. Media outlets breathlessly fan the flames of scandal and outrage because that is part of the tradition, pageantry, and profit of this annual tradition.
This year, like previous years, the show served up plenty of opportunities to vent about the injustice of it all. One critique, by David Edelstein writing for CBS News offers this astute observation, “The Academy is having a crisis of confidence. We are in a culture in which everyone’s angry about how he, she or they is being represented, not without cause. No matter which of the eight nominees for Best Picture wins, someone will be offended.”
Edelstein’s comment suggests that some Oscar offenses are justified. For example, remember the #OscarsSoWhite controversy from 2015 when no person of color was nominated for any of the major award categories? Racial disparity in Hollywood stretches at least as far back as 1940 when Hattie McDaniel accepted the statuette for her portrayal of Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” at a segregated Los Angeles nightclub which hosted the ceremony. A few Oscar offenses are less justified. If some are still overwrought about “The English Patient” beating “Fargo” for Best Picture in 1997, perhaps the disputants should just hug it out over popcorn while watching both movies.
A word that I think accurately captures the current zeitgeist is “offensensitivity.” Created by Bloom County cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, Wiktionary defines the term blending the words “offense” and “sensitivity” as “Inappropriately high sensitivity to perceived offense.” The word is important because our moral priority is not to justify perceived offenses between people trolling one another on social media. Our moral priority is, according to the Bible, for people to avoid offending God. Numerous scriptures describe the story of God’s faithfulness in covenant with humanity and the reckless abandon with which humanity breaks faith with God. It is offensive or, more bluntly, sinful, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” -Exodus 20:5-6.
After Moses delivered God’s Ten Commandments to the Israelites, their offensensitivity should have been high. The golden calf they worshipped instead is evidence that they were utterly insensitive to the idolatrous offense. During this season of Lent, perhaps we should fine-tune our offensensitivity. When we are outraged at everything else all the time, especially for the purpose of appearing morally virtuous, it distracts us from raging meaningfully against our own offenses.
For God and Country!
The Fort Greely Chapel community is open and accessible to everyone in the Delta Junction/Fort Greely community – even non-military. We are a traditional, protestant Army chapel service meeting on Sundays at 1000 with a weekly Communion observance. Interested? Please call 907-873-4397 to arrange for gate access. “Like” our chapel Facebook page by searching “Fort Greely Chapel” or use your web browser to go to https://www.facebook.com/FGAChapel