When Hollywood becomes relevant

Par Toula Foscolos
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1er mars 2007

When Hollywood becomes relevant

If you're anything like me, you spent last Sunday night, on your couch with a bowl of Kettle popcorn on your lap, taking in the Oscar hoopla till way past midnight

Like most of you, I watch the Oscars every year with a mixture of fascination and voyeurism, checking out the stars, the fashion faux-pas, the acceptance speeches and getting up for quick bathroom breaks when some obscure sound mixer nervously starts reciting from a handwritten acceptance speech. I know it's not fair and their award undeniably represents months of painstaking work, but really… I don't care. Cue the music already!

While artists are a passionate bunch and are by nature vocal about their convictions and the causes close to their hearts, I sometimes can't help but wince at the apparent self-congratulatory posing that seems to permeate Hollywood .

"Look at me and my beautiful soul!" seems to be the implied message, as millionaire star after millionaire star magnanimously instructs the lowly masses on ways we can all make a difference in this world.

Forgive me for being cynical, but isn't it always a tad easier to espouse a cause, when it requires little in terms of actual commitment? Money is easy to come by for Hollywood celebrities and even easier to raise. Public appearances often promote the stars themselves just as much as they do the cause and it's easy for those commanding seven-figure salaries to attach themselves to a "cause du jour" and not have it interfere with their day-to-day lives.

While I think it's commendable that many Hollywood stars use their star power to promote newsworthy causes, nevertheless, to most of us average Joes, it can sometimes come off as ostentatious and opportunistic.

It's perhaps why I was so pleased to see Al Gore enjoying his moment in the sun, when "An Inconvenient Truth" won a golden statuette for best Documentary Feature, last weekend. While global warming seems to have become the cause celeb lately (and rightfully so) for a number of people, Gore has been working on spreading this inconvenient piece of news for over 20 years.

He co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste in 1978 and hearings on global warming in the 1980s, back in the days when current president, George W. Bush, was just beginning to exit his cocaine and alcohol-induced haze. During his tenure as Vice-President, Gore was a proponent for environmental protection, and in the '90s, he strongly pushed for the passage of the Kyoto Treaty, which called for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

And he's not done. Just a few weeks ago, Al Gore and Richard Branson announced the Virgin Earth Challenge, a competition offering a $25 M prize for the first person or organization to produce a viable design to result in the removal of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

"This is not a political issue, it's a moral issue," stated Al Gore on the Oscar stage. Most importantly however, it's an issue that Hollywood –through its support—has made "cool", and as such, has made popular for the rest of the world. Gore may have had to veer off Capital Hill and drive into Tinseltown, but his valuable message seems to have finally arrived.