Red Carpet

Geri Jewell
There was no shortage of glitzy awards shows packed into the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. They all included red carpet moments where the celebrities had to walk, be vulnerable to criticism, and judged in the court of public opinion. Whether we have to walk a red carpet like the celebs and well-known athletes who’ve come out as gay in recent months, or those who march to a different drummer and are still wandering around on the shag carpet of the 70’s—the point is that we’re all trying to put our best foot forward in life, hoping that we’ll be loved.

Since my Facts of Life years, I had to walk the red carpet at the Emmys, the American Music Awards and the Daytime Emmys, where I perceived that my colleagues and I were all striving for perfection. These days I cannot watch those few treacherous moments, from the limo to the entrance, without wondering if it’s as nerve wracking an experience for that person as it was for me. I mean, to see Jennifer Lawrence trip in back-to-back Academy Award shows is just painful, because she doesn’t even have cerebral palsy, like I do, so I know that easily could have been me.

Like millions of other people, I was glued to the television watching the most recent Academy Awards. I thought it was pretty good for the most part, but when host Ellen DeGeneres passed out pizza slices to the likes of Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and Brad Pitt, I got such a craving that I was forced to rush to the phone and order up a pie of my own. I didn’t have a Pharrell Williams’ Smokey the Bear hat to collect tip money as Ellen did, but my delivery guy seemed pleased nevertheless.

I thought Ellen did a good job as host. She’s usually very sensitive to others, perhaps for walking the purple carpet some years earlier (coming out as gay), and taking all those hits for it. Her monologue was funny for the most part, but when she made that jab at Liza Minnelli— suggesting that the performer was not herself, but instead a male impersonating Liza Minnelli—I cringed. I’m sure Ellen’s line was off the cuff, with no malicious intent, but it felt insensitive to the fact that here was Liza with her sister, Lorna, and brother, Joey, gathered together to celebrate their mother’s film, The Wizard of Oz! We’re talking a Hollywood classic, starring Judy Garland, and I think all three of them deserved better. Ellen didn’t seize the moment to give them the proper acknowledgement. How wonderful if Liza, Lorna and Joey had been chosen to give an Oz award. Just saying that was a missed opportunity by the Academy.

Now can we talk John Travolta? Yes, he called the singer Idina Menzel by the wrong name, Adele Mazeem, and we laughed at him. It could be argued that we should be more sensitive ourselves, I mean it’s been well documented that Travolta has struggled with dyslexia… And yet he’s a Scientologist, and they don’t acknowledge disability right? Or am I confusing him with Tom Cruise? In any case, maybe we all should lighten up and go easier on one another. I think Travolta saw the humor and humanity in the gaffe himself, and that humanity is just the part of the Oscars that most of us can relate to.

For example, Matthew McCaughey’s win for Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club showcased his amazing portrayal of aids patient Ron Woodroof. His acceptance speech, thanking God and family was beautiful, giving conservatives something to applaud. But at the same time, they could not ignore that he played the role of a man, previously homophobic, who ended up bringing a sense of humanity to the AIDS epidemic—not to mention saving many lives. My point being: Do not ignore the whole picture here; the film he was awarded for challenges us to be more educated and less prejudiced, again the vulnerability of being human.

The only films that I did not see were

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Woody Allen’s, Blue Jasmine, and the animated film, Frozen, but now I will check out both, to catch the work of Cate Blanchett and to hear the song, “Let it Go” by Adele Mazeem, I mean Idina Mizell—although the Beatles song “Let It Be” is still tops with me.

Over the years, the red carpet will continue to be rolled out for award shows, and no matter what path each of us is on, it doesn’t matter so much if we trip, flub our makeup, or wear the wrong gown or tux. The important thing is that we show up in life. That’s what makes us winners!

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by Geri Jewell
geri jewell

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