Art and the Academy Awards

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While watching the Academy Awards it’s easy to get wrapped up solely in the entertainment of the night. Who is wearing what? Who is talking to whom? He’s looking old. Her dress is unflattering, so on and so forth. It’s not a bad thing to look at art as a means of entertainment. Art (in this case we are talking about art in the form of acting, directing, scoring, essentially the art of film) is without a doubt entertaining, but that just begins to explain what art truly is, and what art does for us.

In general we respect those with the talent to intrigue us, to make us feel something just by watching or listening. Art is expression. We have all heard that a thousand times before, but it’s the truth. Art provides a platform from which to express something, to say something that (we feel) needs to be said.

For most of us, the Oscars are a night of entertainment. Filled with winning, losing, and the typical hear-it-every-year acceptance speeches. However, many of this year’s speeches broke out of that routine. They used this platform as a means to express directly, to confront the problems we see around us everyday. With these speeches “art” took a leap forward. It crossed boundaries.

Whether you look at Patricia Arquette’s speech on wage equality for women, John Legend’s speech on the continued struggle for civil rights, Alexandro G. Iñárritu’s focus on immigration, and even J.K. Simmons’ talk about family and parents, you can see firsthand how art has stirred the emotions of not only the Dolby theater, but of millions of viewers worldwide.

Art is powerful. And it especially holds power in today’s society, where young adults follow news reports on entertainment to a larger extent than news on politics. So when those people, those entertainers, use their art to advocate for much-needed social change, then art is making a difference. It is doing what it is meant to do. I also don’t mean to limit art in this case; any art form can have an impact. Literary art, visual art, music, dance, film, it all matters.

Yes, art is expression. And that expression can lead to progress, but this is just my view. This is my more than entertainment insight on the Academy Awards. What matters though, is what that art means to you, how it strikes a chord in you, how it makes a difference.

-Matthew Young

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