I love art in all forms. I love creating it, I love admiring it, I love debating it. I love that whether it be a movie, a photograph, a sculpture; artistic forms have the ability to strike both good and bad chords on our heart strings. I love hearing how others interpret and receive specific pieces. My take on art has always been, everyone has a voice and a right to use that voice in whatever way possible to express passion and inspire others. Having this mentality has allowed me to stay outwardly neutral on social platforms. I’m not one to jump on Facebook and tear someone or something down or tweet criticism for all the world to see. Of course, I have my opinions, but everyone does, and I just never thought my opinion was so different or special that I had to share it with as many people as possible, until now.
The image above shows a piece of art created by Plastic Jesus, who is known for his in-your-face, artistic critiques of Hollywood’s elite. This piece was placed in front of the Dolby Theater (where the Academy Awards are held) a few days before the award ceremony and left there for five hours before it was removed. Five hours was plenty of time for my social media feeds to be flooded with pictures of this statement.
The people who popped up in my newsfeed as posting this picture, captioned it with something like “HAHA!” or “This is awesome!”. I even had one non-industry friend make a comment on how this really spoke to what the industry is like and how damaging Hollywood truly is. I stared at my iPad, re-reading these comments over and over again, and all I could think was, REALLY?!
When I saw the statue, I was offended. And seeing people, both industry and non-industry, virtually high-five-ing this artist for being so “truthful” or “funny” made me feel like maybe I missed the punch-line or was interpreting this all wrong.
Because to me, this statue is a giant slap in the face.
I’m not dumb and I’m certianly not naive. I’ve seen first-hand what Hollywood can be like on a bad night. It’s dangerous. There’s temptation and addiction and poor choices just waiting to drop down the throat or up the nose of a fresh-faced, 21 year-old girl trying to “make it”.
But Hollywood on a good day? For a young adult who, as a child, used to force her family to sit through living room renditions of the “Sound of Music”, there’s nothing like Hollywood on a good day.
Getting stuck in traffic on the way to an audition, calling your parents to say “I got the part!”, having a breakthrough in acting class, seeing your friend nail his guest spot on a TV show, crying over your favorite actor’s latest performance, that’s the stuff Hollywood is really made of. That stuff is what The Academy Awards celebrate.
These award ceremonies aren’t just for the nominees. They’re for people who strive for more. They’re for people who believe in magic. They’re for all of us because they remind us that human beings are capable of doing great things for one another. These people win these awards because they struck an unforgettable chord on our heartstrings. They affected us.
Last night celebrated films that affected us. Films like “Boyhood”, which reminded us how wonderfully, painful growing up is. “Selma”, which gave new voice and meaning to an ever-present injustice in our country. “The Theory of Everything”, which showed us how powerful love can be. “Birdman”, which gave us hope for our own dreams. “Whiplash”, which made us feel less alone in our struggles to be better.
Last night was not about publicity stunts and celebrity rehab, though Plastic Jesus seems to think it was.
I found this artist’s attempt to over-shadow the big night with a blanket statement on Hollywood’s “secret drug use” offensive and was equally insulted by some reactions to it. But, on a positive note, Plastic Jesus started this internal disuccsion and inspired me to share my voice on the matter. That’s probably the most beautiful thing about art, even when you hate it, it can inspire you.