SPidge Tales

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

MTV Movie Awards and Democracy

“A person is smart. People are dumb.” Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others.” Sir Winston Churchill

We all know what the turn of the calendar to December means. No, I am not talking about mistletoes or visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. The holly jolly takes a back seat to Hollywood. ‘Tis the season when Sony tries to be Sundance, and Miramax tries to be “Mira”-Cannes. Money making popcorn flicks take a backseat, and the studios trot out Those Type of movies. You know, Those movies that are more concerned with teaching us a lesson or being triumphs of the human heart than entertaining us. The winter solstice means Awards Season will soon be arriving, and it is imperative to put “Oscar caliber” movies fresh into the minds of award voters. Christmas 2005 was a typical movie year, with Oscar nominees Capote, Brokeback Mountain, Goodnight and Good Luck, and Munich all coming out around this time, with only eventual winner Crash having been released in the summer.

Once the awards season has ended, and the awards have been given out by the elite who have voted on them, MTV announces their nominees. Voted on by the fans, the nominations have a little different flavor. This year’s candidates are The 40-Year Old Virgin, Batman Begins, King Kong, Sin City, and Wedding Crashers, all being Spring or Summer big releases save King Kong, which was the token annual Christmas-time blockbuster.

The choices for “popular” awards such as MTV’s and the Peoples Choice are seen as “signs” that people are stupid, easily entertained, and do not have refined tastes. The “true” movie connoisseurs, members of the Academy of Motion Pictures, vote on the Oscars so that “worthy” movies get honored. I may not be one of the enlightened, one of the sophisticates. I have seen (and enjoyed) every MTV nominee for best picture. All were well done movies. I have only seen Crash and Goodnight and Good Luck, though, out of the “real” best pictures. Those two were very well done, with superb ensemble acting. They made me think about issues such as racism, freedom of speech, McCarthyism, and others. Yet, I have no desire to see either a second time. They were good, but not exactly entertaining. The five MTV movies are all re-watchable. In fact, Kong and Batman are the only ones I have not seen twice.

Of course, there are times when I don’t think the “people” should have too much of a say. In all-star votes, the fans always vote for guys like Mike Piazza, popular players who used to be good but are no longer deserving of playing in all-star games. In Men In Black, when Will Smith finds out that there are aliens and Tommy Lee Jones is one of the guys who works to keep this on the DL, Will Smith says that people can handle the truth. Tommy Lee points out that a person can be smart, but “people are dumb.” Yet, much of the world has moved from Monarchy and Aristocracy to Republicanism and Democracy. I guess, ideally we would want a smart person running government, but since they are few and far between, it is better to have a bunch of mediocre people running things than risk having the one person who is in charge be a total shit-head. Like Churchill said, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others.”

I think most intelligent people have realized this conundrum and have set up systems where “the people” can make certain decisions, while others are reserved to those people, things, and ideas we consider to be wiser and know better. Plato, through his mouthpiece Socrates, writes in the Republic that the best form of government is rule by Philosopher-Kings (that is, the people who are wise enough to know their heads from their asses). The Catholic Church allows its bishops to make certain decisions regarding allocation of funds, when to throw special diocesan feasts, and others, while leaving the basic truths of Jesus as untouchable, so that no one can mess them up. The Founding Fathers of the United States set up a Republican form of government with representatives who were to be a little more informed so as to know what they hell they were voting on, and a Constitution from which the democracy, the vox populi (yeah, I am throwing in Latin phrases to sound smart. Vox populi means “voice of the people”), could not stray, so that the people, though having the right to govern themselves, could not do something stupid like, oh, make all people with darker color skin sit on the back of the bus, or not allow people without penises to vote. In ancient democracies, checks and balances were in place to prevent democratically supported executions of Socrates and Jesus. Oops, democracy did allow those things. Oh well. It’s the worst form of government, save all others…


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