(Carl Trueman – First Things) “The red carpet will provide us with a parade of beautiful people. That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: It will provide us with an endless stream of people who have cheated on spouses, betrayed friends, broken marriage vows, wrecked homes, had abortions.”
I make a point of never watching the Oscars. If I want to waste four hours of my life being alternately patronized and reminded what an abject failure I am according to the criteria contemporary society holds dear, I can always read The New Yorker. But I am sufficiently aware of what goes on at the Oscars to venture a few predictions.
First, I predict that the usual suspects will be there, signaling their virtues and taking heroic stands against wickedness, although #MeToo will have replaced the more traditional #JusticeForRoman.
Second, I predict that the acceptance speeches will be full of the kind of deep political and philosophical analysis which has become de rigueur for those with credentials: the ability to memorize a few lines and pretend to be someone else in front of a camera. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that I could randomly knock on any door in my neighborhood and find a more intelligent commentary on current events than I would hear from a denizen of Tinseltown. But few of my neighbors are photogenic, so they have nothing of real value to contribute to our political culture.
That brings me to my third prediction: We will once again witness the triumph of aesthetics over ethics, or rather that identification of aesthetics with ethics which is now the default position of Western society.
Think about it: The red carpet will provide us with a parade of beautiful people. That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: It will provide us with an endless stream of people who have cheated on spouses, betrayed friends, broken marriage vows, wrecked homes, had abortions. Those who have been exposed as sexual abusers may be less in evidence this year. But other than that, the usual carnival of corruption will be on full display. And it will be attractive, because it is physically beautiful.
In America, for many generations now, beauty has covered a multitude of sins. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that beauty has turned a multitude of sins into an aspirational lifestyle. Of course, most Oscars viewers have about as much chance of attaining that lifestyle as of winning the New Jersey Lottery. Promiscuity can be indulged with relative impunity by the rich and famous, but it is utterly destructive for the poor. If, as Dr. Johnson said, lotteries are taxes on the gullible, then Hollywood sells a lifestyle whose mortgage is paid by the most vulnerable.