Two very different film awards shows aired this past weekend: the Academy Awards, by and large exalting cultural libertinism, and the taped Movieguide Awards (from Feb. 7), celebrating traditional family values.
On Sunday, March 2 the 86th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles and aired live on ABC. This year's gathering was hosted by television personality Ellen DeGeneres, most notable for her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Hollywood's gender-bending ways were on full display with an androgynous DeGeneres dressed in a frilly ascotted tux, and The Dallas Buyer's Club, a transgender/AIDS film, garnering awards for best actor and best supporting actor for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto respectively.
The 86th Academy Awards weren't all Sodom and Gomorrah, however.
The Academy proved to be a partly class act in its in memoriam segment when it memorialized Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant who was tragically killed by a train during the filming of the Greg Allman biopic, Midnight Rider, in late February due to (possibly criminal) negligence on the part of her superiors. Her death has caused waves among film crew personnel throughout the industry, who have used the tragedy to highlight safety issues that film personnel often face. Industry workers and their friends across the globe banded together before the Oscars to gather tens of thousands of signatures to lobby the Academy to remember Jones during the show. While the Academy initially signaled that it would not commemorate Jones, it ultimately decided to remember her with a graphic posted on screen after Bette Midler finished singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” There were also many nominees and some winners who wore a black ribbon pinned to their lapels in remembrance of Jones.
Many also found Matthew McConaughey's acceptance speech, in which he thanked God above all for the opportunities that He has provided McConaughey throughout his life, quite refreshing.
But one look at many of the nominations for best picture and their place at the box office would suggest that Hollywood's celebration is a pretty incestuous affair not in line with the general American public's taste. The subject matter of the nominees would also seem to be at least slightly at variance with the views of the general populace. The Dallas Buyer's Club dealt with AIDS and transgender issues, The Wolf of Wall Street probably could have been rated NC-17 for explicit nudity, and even an atheist critic had a problem with the anti-catholicism of Philomena.
Record ratings for this year's Academy Awards compared to box office takes would suggest that, while the American public loves to watch its movie stars pat each other on the back, it is less likely to plunk down its hard earned cash to enjoy the films that those movie stars pat each other on the back for.
In order to expose this divide between public opinion and the Academy Awards — exhibited by ticket sales — and to encourage a greater appreciation for traditional family values in Hollywood, there is the second awards show in town.
In stark contrast to much of the Academy's undertones of cultural libertinism was the 22nd Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry, which was held at the Universal Hilton Hotel on February 7, and aired March 1 on REELZ channel.
Movieguide is an organization dedicated to encouraging an adherence to traditional family values in the film industry, specifically by appealing to the studios' pocketbooks with the Report to the Entertainment Industry that shows a strong correlation between movies' box office success and their lack of sex, nudity, violence, and profanity.
According to Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and CEO of Movieguide, “The best part is that the Movieguide Awards [ceremony] contains truly inspirational references to faith and family throughout the telecast, with powerful testimonies."
For those who are concerned that Hollywood's cultural influence tends toward the negative and that the Academy Awards further those negative trends, the Movieguide Awards definitely offer a breath of fresh air.
Photo of Oscar statue: AP Images