Monday, March 03, 2014

I have a guess about Matthew McConaughey's Oscar speech

It's no surprise to see Fox and Breitbart throwing together approving articles on Matthew McConaughey's Oscar acceptance speech. But despite the fact that it sounded rambling, here’s why I think Matthew McConaughey was actually giving a very calculated speech that went beyond praising God.

First, I have no doubt that his speech was sincere, that he meant to say just what he said.

But this is the Oscars, a room full of actors, on the biggest stage we have on Earth with a billion people watching. I think McConaughey was taking the opportunity to sell his film to a particular group who may not have seen it yet.

From Reuters:

As Woodroof, the actor brought to life a man who evolved from detestable bigot to a lifeline for fellow AIDS patients, many of them gay or transgender. At the same time, he fought for his own life at a time when doctors were scrambling to find effective treatments for the fatal disease.
I was raised Christian and my spouse and I are bringing our own kids up in a wonderful church. With several pastors among my family members and friends, ranging across the political spectrum, I've learned to "speak church."

And as an immigrant's kid, I can tell when someone is speaking to fit in with or communicate with a certain group. I'm not saying this is a special power only given to immigrants or kids of immigrants, but I'm saying my experience has taught me to recognize this with a fairly fine level of sensitivity.

If you've listened to and analyzed political speeches, your ears may also have been ringing with all the signals he put in there.

Not that you necessarily needed a fine level of sensitivity to get it.

This is among what McConaughey mentioned:

  • God
  • God's scientific fact
  • guy named Charlie (not Charles)
  • family
  • wife
  • his late dad
  • Miller Lite
  • gumbo
  • pie
  • himself as his own hero  (=independent, bootstraps)
Had he mentioned guns, he would have covered all the big signals.

This is what he didn't mention:
  • AIDS
  • the real life person on whom this story is based, in stark (and I might suggest deliberate) contrast that with everyone who spoke for 12 Years a Slave, another Oscar winning movie based on a real life story.
Jared Leto was the one who covered AIDS, as well as Ukraine and Venezuela. I would not be surprised if they'd coordinated on that.

I think Matthew McConaughey was making an appeal to the millions of conservative Christians who probably would not have put this on their Netflix queue on any other day of the year. But now, I'm guessing those whose Recommended list suggests every Charlton Heston film will take a second look and may even give it a try.

I think that was his goal. I think it was an effective strategy. I'm interested to see what happens with the second life of this film post Oscars.

And you know, if you wanted church at the Oscars, for my money that happened with the acceptance speech for Best Documentary. Darlene Love of 20 Feet From Stardom opened wtih "Lord God, I praise you" and belted "His Eye is On The Sparrow." There's no church like gospel. We got CHURCH with that performance.

Tweet your thoughts to me @wordydoodles. Thank you!