Across the Universe: Let’s #AskMore — even if it will be a pipe dream
February 25, 2015
LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After viewing the 2015 Academy Awards this past Sunday and listening to the noticeable uptick in celebrity comments on the controversial topics of race, suicide, women's rights and immigration, among others, I have an idea for next year's Oscars.
Actually, let me pump the brakes and address this word, "controversial." I believe none of those topics are "controversial" — rather, they are topics we should embrace and talk about much more often.
However, it's written in the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal." There's our first problem. It defeats the purpose of having a legit discussion if women are paid equally if some people base their argument on a document authored by a bunch of old white men.
To make my point another way, and to address another "controversial" topic, history has proven some of those old men deliberately took out anti-slavery passages in the Declaration of Independence because, well, they owned slaves (like Thomas Jefferson).
According to David Armitage's book, "The Declaration of Independence: A Global History," said abolitionist Thomas Day in 1776: "If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves."
Well played, Thomas.
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But I digress. What makes these topics "controversial" is how people react to them; some have such entrenched beliefs on an issue that they are blinded from having a productive conversation with someone who disagrees.
Granted, some of us are mature people who can get along in the sandbox when having conversations, but there are others who simply cannot be reasoned with. These are the people you see hiding behind fake names on online chat boards, or others who chime in poorly on Facebook comments.
Somehow, unbelievably, there continue to be racists, gay bashers, bullies — you name it — among us. Therefore, I believe what makes the topics "controversial" is the fear these people instill in others who want to simply talk.
So, let's get back to my thought for next year's Academy Awards. It's a call to action based on the "#AskHerMore" movement. In a nutshell, it encourages reporters and personalities to ask real, thought-provoking questions instead of the commonplace ones about hairstyles and dress tailors.
Let's make this a part of next year's Oscars. Let's make it an entire segment during an award show that rivals the Super Bowl in terms of viewership — and therefore, something that galvanizes much of the public around one single thing for a few hours.
Let's get rid of the show's ridiculously lavish and expensive dance routines and six-figure gift bags, and instead focus on something to which everyone can and should relate.
In fact, let's build on #AskHerMore, and change it to, simply, #AskMore. Ask more of the celebrities. Ask more of the athletes. Ask more of the politicians. Ask more of the media. Ask more of the 1 percent. Ask more of everybody.
The more we talk, the less "controversial" things become. Sound good? Sure, it sounds good, but I know it's all a pipe dream, and here's why: While reading commentary in reaction to the issues brought forward (whether joking or not) Sunday night by celebs like Patricia Arquette, Sean Penn and John Legend, I found myself somehow, unfortunately landing on an Us Weekly article about actress Reese Witherspoon.
The article talked about her being a proponent of #AskHerMore, and featured quotes about how she and others are about "more than just our dresses."
"It's exciting for me to get to talk to other nominees to talk to other women about the work they've done," the article quotes her saying.
The very next line, however? It's a link to an online gallery: "PHOTOS: Reese Witherspoon's 10 Best Hairstyles."
And that, folks, is why my idea was dead before I even offered it.
— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.