I love movies. Very few things are capable of whisking us away from one world and into another as effectively as does a good feature film. And, in that sense, as contrived and as predictable and as overtly “green” as James Cameron’s Avatar may have been, it was nonetheless an absolute visual treat. Stories get recycled–after all, before it became Avatar, the story of Pocohontas was adapted into Dances With Wolves–but imagination and creativity in the cultivation of setting can often more than compensate for lack of originality with regard to plot.
Apparently not so much, though, as to warrant the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards.
I enjoyed seeing the hyper-partisan Cameron beat by his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, for Best Director and Best Picture for her film, The Hurt Locker. For one, it was nice to see Bigelow and everyone else involved with her film actually thank our brave men and women overseas during the telecast. Also, if Bigelow is a leftie, I never would have known it from the movie, or from the way she has conducted herself. I saw both The Hurt Locker and Avatar, and as much as I enjoyed Cameron’s movie for what it was–a movie–I didn’t care for the proselytizing outside of the theater. Every day, in the world outside of Hollywood, we can hear liberals aplenty vilify corporations and espouse conservation at the expense of growth — I don’t need to hear a multi-millionaire with floppy hair preach the same message to me in some made-up language. Chewbacca never offered hair care advice.
To me, though, the most interesting competitive match-up was between The Blind Side and Precious in the Best Actress category. And while Sandra Bullock’s victory over newcomer Gabourey Sidibe was lovely and made for so many of the entertainment headlines this morning, I cannot help but wonder if the Hollywood types and those who idolize and adore them caught the underlying lesson in it all — that government, my friends, is not the answer.
I haven’t seen either film–I will–but the underlying theme behind both is simple to grasp. And, if not, there’s always Wikipedia.
Precious’ protagonist, Clareece “Precious” Jones, lives in a government-subsidized housing project with a government-subsidized abusive mother. Her own father has been raping her from the time she was little, and she has borne two children from him. She is floundering in school, abused at home, and doomed to a lifetime of being unable to break that cycle of poverty that has unfortunately snared so many in America. Neither government-funded welfare checks nor government-run public schools nor the government’s own Department of Health and Human Services are able to help; when it comes to Precious, and so many others, the government simply has failed. The Blind Side is the story of Michael Oher. Oher was born to and raised by an addict, lived in government-subsidized housing, and had been bouncing around the foster care system and in the public schools until he found his salvation in a Christian school and in the home of a middle-class white family, who puts forth the effort and provides the support that no government agency could.
The Blind Side is based on a true story; Michael Oher was drafted this past year by the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. Precious may as well be true, and the failure of the government system to lift people out of poverty and provide true, lasting support and change is played on on inner city streets across America. Every day, in downtown Philadelphia, I see Clareece “Precious” Jones. I can only watch Michael Oher on television.
It is interesting to me that, in Avatar, the Hollywood left is able to extract all of the thinly-veiled environmental and anti-capitalist propaganda, yet in these two other films the reality of their own agenda is right there for them to see, and they don’t. Oprah loves Precious, while others look at The Blind Side and cry racism. Take this, from the Dallas Observer, for example:
Another poor, massive, uneducated black teenager lumbers onto screens this month, two weeks after Precious and obviously timed as a pre-Thanksgiving-dinner lesson in the Golden Rule. But unlike the howling rage of Claireece Precious Jones, The Blind Side’s Michael “Big Mike” Oher (Quinton Aaron) is mute, docile and ever-grateful to the white folks who took him in. Directed by John Lee Hancock and based on a true story recounted in Michael Lewis’ 2006 book of the same name, Blind Side the movie peddles the most insidious kind of racism, one in which whiteys are virtuous saviors, coming to the rescue of blacks who become superfluous in narratives that are supposed to be about them.
That’s what happens, I’m afraid, when liberals are confronted with fact and with common sense. There is no denying Michael Oher’s story, and there is no denying the reality of the story depicted in Precious. Rather than acknowledge and address the problem, however, they choose to lash out. They choose to say that the true story is the fantasy, and fantasize about the reality of government-subsidized poverty.
In her Oscar acceptance speech, Sandra Bullock dedicated her award to “the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from.” It was a mom that saved Michael Oher. It was generosity. It was faith. And it was exactly the opposite that kept Precious in that vicious cycle of abuse, neglect and poverty.
Movies do whisk us away from one world and into another, whether it’s a trip from Earth to Pandora or from the United States of America to Iraq. But they also can teach us a lesson. Avatar taught us that we do have to be stewards of the Earth — something that all of us knew, anyway. The Hurt Locker taught us that “war is a drug,” and that each and every day there are men and women of unfathomable courage who put themselves in harm’s way so as to protect the rest of us at home and give others the opportunities for self-government that they may not otherwise have. Precious and The Blind Side should teach us that there is no government substitute for love, that the government cannot subsidize real support, and that with hard work and faith, good things can come to anyone.