The Oscars last night were good. My husband and I liked "Slumdog Millionaire" and its supercool "Jai Ho" song and dance, and "Benjamin Button". We were happy to see those movies run away with so many awards.
However, the pro-gay marriage frenzy accompanying "Milk" hit me hard. These Hollywood figures have become our culture's heroes--we salivate over their personal lives, we take their political commentaries seriously, we include them in distinguished national events, we imitate their fashion and manners. As I sorted my sweet little boy's clothes in preparation for laundry day today, the screenwriter of "Milk" Lance Black gave his acceptance speech:
Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make... When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.
I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.
And later from Sean Penn, who played gay politician Harvey Milk in the movie:
I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone.
Where have all the real boyhood heroes gone--the cultural icons who were also decent, manly role models for boys? Joltin' Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron, John Wayne, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They may not have been impeccable in their personal lives but they stood for traditional values and inspired young boys to do the same. Hard work and self-discipline. Masculinity. Courage and strength. Chivalry.
We immerse ourselves in saints and knights and athletes of old around here, but I do on occasion grieve the loss of good masculinity in popular culture, for the sake of my little boy and other boys. Last night was one of those occasions.