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Do we get our values and ethics from Hollywood?

Flickr photo of Hollywood sign by LWYang

Do we get our values and ethics from Hollywood?


By Jeff Borders

Let’s face it, people love celebrity.

And there is no better place for celebrities to shine in all their glory than an awards show. From red carpet interviews to critiques on the latest fashion, many people become glued to the television. Sunday evening brought us the 75th Golden Globe Awards, and an opportunity for the industry to recognize innovators and disrupters in film.

Unfortunately, like many awards shows, the speeches were filled to the brim with political rants or calls to action for one cause or another. Sunday night’s “brave” action was to wear black and sport a “Time’s up” lapel, a slogan just perfect for a generation of people who scroll Facebook waiting for the next great cause to become enraged about.

To be honest, if I wanted politics, I have access to 24-hour continuous news cycles on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or any number of online content outlets. I get tired of being preached to by people who hold no more authority on a given matter than the average person. And to be blunt, I find the call by Hollywood to protect women or anyone from sexual abuse and assault a bit late and a lot hypocritical. It’s a bit hard to swallow the “Time’s Up” from an industry that lauds and adulates the works of men like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, wines and dines with men like Harvey Weinstein, and gives a lifetime achievement award to 101 year-old actor Kirk Douglas, who has long been rumored of having raped actress Natalie Wood when she was a teenager.

It seems obvious to me that the passion of fighting against sexual assault by most Hollywood elites makes it no further than the echo chamber of Beverly Hills. (I give credit to Ashton Kutcher for the work he is doing.) If celebrities really cared about the issue, they would engage with organizations like Operation Underground Railroad or Thorn (Kutcher’s Advocacy Group), which seek to stop the evil that is child sex slavery, or organizations that are trying to help women sex slaves in places like the Middle East and Asia.  Or here’s an idea, maybe give just as much credence to the accusations of men like Corey Feldmen, who have tried to shine a spotlight on the problem of predatory pedophilia within the television and movie industry.

But therein lies the problem. We’ve placed celebrity on such high pedestal as if they are the arbiters of the morality of ethics, that they start to believe that they know better than everyone else. When we allow Hollywood to teach and feed us emotionally, spiritually and mentally, we have failed as people of faith. If it’s true that a majority of American’s are people of faith, then we should be getting our directives on how to live our lives and what causes we should support, based on the teachings of our individual theologies.

As a millennial, it gives me some hope that the ratings of the show are at a six-year low in the 18-49 demographic, and maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. All I want from Hollywood is a decent movie to watch, and a place to escape for a few hours. What I get is an industry focused entirely on itself, and yet unwilling to do the tough work of overhauling the system.

Maybe I’m way off base, but I find the whole award show scene a ridiculous exercise of self-congratulatory bloviating. I would rather sit and watch paint dry than listen to the constant stream of self-righteous indignation about this cause or that. However, as a libertarian constitutionalist, I would never dream of telling Hollywood what they can and can’t say. I am a firm believer in the right to free speech. In my opinion, even the most heinous of speech must be protected, or nothing will. My focus instead is more on how we as individuals assimilate the ideals and virtues of Hollywood into our own lives. I don’t want to throw the preverbal baby out with the bath water. There are reformers in the industry honestly seeking true change in the world and are willing to live up to the ideals they swear fealty to, but their voices seem few and far between.

I’ve heard it said that Hollywood is a reflection of our society. If Hollywood is sick right now, and I truly believe it is. What does that say for us as a society?

I wonder if we have the willpower to take the medicine needed to fix the illness that overtaken us.

About Jeff Borders

Jeff Borders was born in Spokane, Washington and has lived there since. He is a self published author, focusing in science fiction and fantasy, but he enjoyes writing in all its forms. By trade he is a Respiratory Therapist, but he is also active in his community as a volunteer firefighter, as well as being active in his church. He holds many additional teaching certifications for his fields of employment and he enjoys educating others.

Jeff married his wife Crystyne in 2003, and together they have four, very fun and energetic children.

His website is www.jeffbordersbooks.com

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