When I was in high school my History and Government teachers made my fellow students and I bring in “current events” during the week. A current event was an event that happened recently enough on the World or American stage that appeared in a newspaper or magazine. We then would either write a short synopsis of our event or verbally share the event with the class. This past week, unless you have been living under a rock, or without the internet, you know of two current events that happened that have captured the attention of many Americans whether they wanted their attentions captured or not. President Donald J. Trump addressed a joint session of congress on Tuesday February 28 and the Oscars were held two days prior.
It is the second of these two events that I list that I want to briefly address. The second, as I list them, that actually happened first on the calendar.
On Sunday February 26th the 89th Academy Awards were hosted by late night TV personality Jimmy Kimmel and opened with what promised to be a tremendous night of Hollywood honoring and celebrating its own. As Justin Timberlake sang and danced his way through the audience those in attendance were immediately roused to their feet with their attentions captured. However, despite the melodic beginning to these awards it is the ending that will endure in the memories of those who attended, watched on TV, and casually glanced at a Newspaper the next day.
In a wild finish Warren Betty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly read the wrong name as they handed out the Academy award for best picture. As you know, it was not La La Land who won best picture it was Moonlight.
What happened after the dust settled and Moonlight was invited on stage is of tremendous importance because it reveals something very deep and demanding about the Entertainment industry…something that is only revealed when it is not there. Perfection is expected and there is no tolerance for imperfection, none.
From all indications Warren and Faye made an honest mistake. Their mistake, however, wasn’t even their mistake but the mistake of a Tweet happy accountant who got lost in the moment backstage and handed Warren and Faye the wrong envelop. But mistakes are not welcomed, regardless of how honest or innocent they may be.
The simplest way to boil down the point of the Oscars is as follows: it is an awards show that honors the best of the best, or the most perfect of the perfect. Consider that out of all the movies made this year a very large group of 7000+ Academy members voted to nominate a select number of movies, or actors/actresses, for a specific award; and then they narrowed that list even further until there was only one winner. Consider also that, at least in the minds of the directors and producers of film, no movie hits the box office unless it is perfect. The amount of time it takes to film and produce a movie is utilized so that every shot is angled perfectly, every word is spoken perfectly, and every scene fits perfectly in the plot line of the movie…which, of course, has to be written perfectly.
Hollywood is not the only entertainment industry that operates like this either. Just two weeks ago music had its biggest night of the year with the Grammy’s and, in similar form and fashion, the perfect of the perfect were awarded for being the most perfect. Much like Hollywood, no musical artist releases an album they think is anything less than perfect. Tracks are fine tuned and vocals are even auto tuned so that what hits your iTunes is without flaw and perfect.
This culture of perfection that surrounds most, if not all, of pop culture is most clearly revealed when something or someone is less than perfect. The quest for perfection is unending and unrelenting as millions of individuals gather in front of their TV’s, with their Twitter apps open, ready to critique, congratulate, and celebrate. What once was reserved for the A-list attendees and those given press credentials is now open and available for any all with access to the program and the internet. No longer does the viewer simply hear commentary during the program about someone’s perfect, or less than perfect, outfit or read reviews the following day in the newspaper, we now can fully join Hollywood and follow their lead in idolizing perfection when we think we found it and demonizing imperfection when it shows itself.
It should come as no surprise then that those interested in the Oscars collectively lost their minds at the horror that something not perfect made its way on stage during the heavily scripted event that not only celebrates engineered perfection but aims to produce nothing short of live television perfection.
So what does all of this reveal and why is it even significant? What Sunday night, and Monday morning, reveals is that there is absolutely zero tolerance for imperfection. Granted, the mistake could have been avoided and should have been avoided, but the backlash has been unrelenting in its demanding questions of “how?”, “why?” and “what now?”.
To live in a culture that has zero tolerance for imperfection is absolutely suffocating because no one, save Jesus Christ, is perfect. And this makes what happened Sunday all the more interesting and revealing. Despite all efforts to avoid any imperfection during an award show that honors the most perfect of the perfect, imperfection was found.
We need to be very careful that we don’t find ourselves upholding a standard that doesn’t allow for imperfection and worse yet demonizes imperfection when it happens. This does not mean, however, we adopt a laissez faire attitude and approach that shows no care at all about how we handle ourselves, work at our jobs, and navigate life. The Academy is correct in seeking to figure out what went wrong and taking steps to avoid a blunder like this again. We should want to do our best and we can be rightly proud when we have done our best.
As a parent, I must encourage my children to do their best and work hard in life to honor and glorify Jesus. Yet when they fail, and fail they will, I also must not demonize them for their failure. Rather, like our Heavenly Father, as he responds to my daily imperfections, there should be grace and forgiveness when failure occurs along with training and exhortation to learn from our mistakes.
The culture of perfection will crush whoever doesn’t measure up and those demanding perfection will crush whoever is not perfect when they are exposed to be exactly what they are…imperfect.
We should rightly strive to do our best and encourage others in the same way. However, when perfection has not been obtained we must be careful to not crush those who were unable to reach perfection…even before they began.