The major strength of Netflix’s acclaimed series The Crown is that finally and once and for all an outsider (Note: Me) understands the pros and cons behind the idea of a King or Queen.
That is not to say that one (Note: Me) likes or accepts the idea of a hierarchy of humanity – i.e. a whole country required to bow and curtsy to another citizen wearing a crown – but at least the tradition and the people wearing the hardware are both clear and recognizable as something approaching human.
I’m not much for bowing down to idols – true, false or otherwise – but in one brief scene in its season one 10-episode arc, The Crown is succinct on this one heretofore elusive point:
The monarchy represents something Divine that can serve as a sort of model for what mankind can aspire to. (Note: One assumes that includes lowly females).
So despite the fact that the actual monarch, be it female or male, is indeed human, once he/she is anointed with oil by a leading British religious figure, he/she also all at once (and forever) becomes Divine He/She and therefore worthy of genuflection and ring kissing by everyone in It’s orbit.
Or so the thought processes go.
Not to mention, and to its further credit, this fine series also shows that a Queen (The British kind, that is) doesn’t necessarily want or is even qualified to be a Deity and that more than a few in the inner circle have their own worries that this vast spectacle is indeed nothing more than their own high-priced version of The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Moreover, it ultimately and finally posits (and this is the what really brings it all home), that despite all of the doubts and handwringing about it, the vast majority of its SUBJECTS are indeed on some level TRUE BELIEVERS in it all and will actually VOLUNTARILY indulge en masse in the tradition of genuflection to this Chosen Human Deity.
This thus reinforces the point of the monarchy to whatever doubting royals there may be and, judging by the continued fascination with them across the globe, proves an even larger point about societies in general:
The PEOPLE indeed do WANT and NEED a HIGHER IDEAL in which to BELIEVE IN and strive towards.
We Americans, of course, have no such thing as a national royalty and if we did it certainly wouldn’t be in Washington, D.C. – at least at the moment. Except, of course, for one thing —
Yes, I know this is a long way to go for an analogy and moan and groan at HOLLYWOOD all you like – led by PRETEND POTUS DJT (aka The Non-Deity who lost the Popular vote by 2.86 million). But let’s be honest:
The vast majority of the TV watchers here and worldwide WILL tune in to the television coronation of Oscar. And even if they don’t and/or claim not to – see what happens when the BIGGEST MOVIE STAR IN THE WORLD walks into a room, a bar, a party, a restaurant or a hardware store in your neighborhood in your presence. You will see the closest thing approaching GENUFLECTION you will EVER, EVER WITNESS IN YOUR LIFETIME ON AMERICAN SOIL.
(Note: If this hasn’t happened to you yet or you think it never will take my word for it. I have witnessed it in more than several cities big and small across the country over several decades in my lifetime and it is ALWAYS the same unmistakably American version of a mass CURTSY and BOW).
(Note 2: And please don’t write in and say what about The Pope? America is a secular country (so far) and He (It?) doesn’t count).
This is not a defense of the Oscars because that would be a defense of an indefensible DEITY. It is just an effort on the part of a lover of this year’s favorite for best picture, La La Land, to get the movie fans and pop culture lovers and prognosticators worldwide to calm the f-k down and, as the young people say (right?), get out of my grill.
Those of us who adore this movie for its reinforcement of hope and belief in the creative dream and Hollywood-ized version of love and romance, are not the intellectual equivalent of “Make America Great Again” as one essayist whose name I won’t mention recently pondered. Nor do we have crappy taste in films or suffer from too much white privilege (though which White person among us White people doesn’t?). In fact, we simply were transported by something we’ve never quite seen before on the Big Screen and want to sing its praises and share it with you.
Which brings me to another chief complaint about the movie – Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are not… Hugh Jackman and Barbra Streisand? Beyonce and Jay-Z? Adele and Sam Smith? (You sooo don’t want that even though you think you do). Jennifer Hudson and Pharrell?
Listen up. It’s not always about the notes you can hit and how well you can sing – especially in a movie musical where performance is everything. It’s about telling the story, the emotion, the passion, the joy and the sadness. And consider that after five decades of concert tours, Bob Dylan still can’t sing a lick. No, honestly. Can he really “sing” – as you crave? Yet he’s captivating. As are many singer-songwriter-actors. Rappers don’t sing the way Sinatra did. Which is fine. Aretha Franklin is still the Queen of Soul and the late Karen Carpenter will always have perfect pitch. That’s a whole other subject and has nothing to do with carrying the story of a movie with your performance in a slightly imperfect yet surreal world.
Which brings us to what looks to be the three-way race for best picture between La La Land, Moonlight and Hidden Figures.
They’re all wonderful films in their own way and yeah, perhaps you don’t agree that La La Land has the inside shot at being this year’s DEITY. But that doesn’t lessen the impact of the story and its filmic luster for many or change the fact that in the system you are choosing to participate in there can only be one QUEEN. (Note: Ahem).
So instead take a broader cosmic view of the whole process. Think of them each as planets. La La Land is Earth, Hidden Figures is Saturn and Moonlight is Pluto.
Pluto is the furthest away from mass reality and therefore probably won’t win. Hidden Figures is certainly the most enjoyable to look at and understand from an en masse point of view. But La La Land is not only surreal and visually interesting – it has managed to capture something else in the minds of many – a kind of magic that feels like home to the majority. It doesn’t mean we’re right and you’re wrong. That we worship The Deity and you are heathens.
NOR, does it mean the reverse.
We’re talking movies and planets – each floating in their own solar systems. I mean, can you compare Uranus with Venus? Or would you be too embarrassed to even try? Well, if you wouldn’t be, you should be.
Crown or not, in the end we’re all the King and Queen of our Own Existence and the stars of our Own Movies.
The point is not to be swayed by someone else’s version of royalty. And to never genuflect