Integrity Matters
March 9, 2005

Host's language takes from Oscars' grandeur

Question: (E-175)

Dear Jim:

Do you think that the host of the 2005 Academy Awards, Chris Rock, was tasteless with his opening remarks? His response to receiving a standing ovation from adoring fans, who happened to be stars in the entertainment industry, was to use a crude phrase of "set your (@#*) down!" Has society deteriorated that much?


Yes to both of your questions.

The Oscars were once an elegant event celebrating the creativity and celebrity of Hollywood. The "olden days" of even the pretense of sophistication have been displaced by classless crudity more reminiscent of choreographed characters from the world of wrestling. The Oscar's traditional red carpet for "bigger-than-life" superstars has become a media feedlot for gossip and bickering. If that is what it takes for Hollywood's most important celebration to garner ratings, then peddle that program in someone else's home next year. We will be playing dominoes that evening.

Now, let's talk about integrity by answering a few important questions that address your concerns about tastelessness and cultural deterioration.

1. If you choose to get upset with Mr. Rock because he used crude language, then you might want to figure out who made him a star commanding big bucks and the Oscar podium. He has responded to what his marketplace demands. How else would he be able to sell tickets to his brand of entertainment?

2. What causes millions of people to stay tuned to the Oscars when it's being hosted unprofessionally? Not too many years ago, adoring movie fans expected hosts to be clever, behaving in good taste. Language was appropriate for all age groups. Marginal and crude behavior had no place. Foul language and gross sexual innuendo were taboo. What has happened? Did the Hollywood moguls, or at least those who wrote and approved this year's program, offer the television audience anything not already welcomed by their ticket-buying fans?

3. Isn't it time to ask how far we are willing to allow behaviors to go until mature adults say "enough?"
Censorship is unnecessary when individuals and groups behave responsibly. Taped broadcast delays are not required when self-control is being exercised. Graciousness and judgment are needed, now.

Hollywood is the home of dream makers, and the Oscars remains its fairytale event. The time has come to ask of Hollywood's tremendous talent, for a few additional hours, only once a year, to "remain in character" so that we might enjoy suspending our disbelief and bask in the magic that is the movies.

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