Did you hear that awkward sound at the Oscars last night, the one right after Matthew McConaughey offered his thoughts on the meaning of life, family and, perhaps, Pilgrim's Progress? Here's the quote that is getting so much cyber-ink today:
"First off I want to thank God, because he's the one I look up to, he's graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human kind. He has shown me that it's a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, who said, 'When you got God, you got a friend and that friend is you.'"
The only really mysterious part of that is the "and that friend is you" part at the end of that section of the speech where McConaughey pointed out toward, but slightly above, the rather shocked audience. Was the actor -- previously known more for his ripped torso than his theological views -- saying that individuals in Hollywood, if they embrace God, can finally come to peace with their complicated relationships with, well, themselves?
The confounded editorial team at the Time entertainment section tried to sum up the mini-sermon this way. Here's the headline:
Explaining Matthew McConaughey’s Confounding Acceptance Speech
We parse it all for you -- "Amen and Alright Alright Alright"
After winning for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyer’s Club, Matthew McConaughey launched into a semi-bizarre tale about his inner life. Here is what we learned:
1. He needs someone to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.
2. He wants to thank God, who he looks up to. God is all about gratitude.
3. He wants to thank his family, who he looks forward to. His deceased father, he believes, is celebrating with a big pot of gumbo and a can of Miller Lite. His mother, still with us, taught him how to respect himself.
4. The person he chases is himself, 10 years into the future. He knows he will never catch up, but he wants to find out who that guy will turn out to be.
5. To all of that, he says “Amen,” ”Alright, Alright, Alright” and “Keep on Livin’.”
Now, if you watch the whole speech -- which I urge you to do -- it seems that the Time entertainment team was hearing most of his words, but failed to grasp the meaning of this particular meditation. For example, what's up with the "God is all about gratitude" part, unless Time is saying that the "all about" reference is slang noting that God is pro-gratitude.
If so, "amen" to that and we can move on. Here at GetReligion, we are "all about" clarity.
The key to me, in terms of journalism, is that the actor walked up the pulpit -- uh, microphone -- with something very specific and thought out to say and that this short sermon had three specific, connected points (but no poem).
In other words, it is hard to mention the third key part -- McConaughey's impossible quest to be worthy of serving as his own hero -- without framing that reference in the context of his remarks about God and family. Now, writing about the whole package would be hard to do in a daily news story and I know that. This is tricky stuff.
For example, consider this passage in the Los Angeles Times daily on the Oscars broadcast:
Matthew McConaughey, who lost some 40 pounds to star in (and persuade reluctant financiers to back) the AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club," was the lead actor winner.
"Every day, every week, every month and every year of my life my hero is always 10 years away," McConaughey said of how he keeps chasing himself. "I'm never going to be my hero ... that's just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing."
Now what in the world does that mean, when unplugged from his references to faith and family? It almost seems that the actor, whose private life certainly seems to have evolved in recent years, is saying that he is trying to grow up -- the context appears to be spiritual maturity -- and become a man who is more worthy of the love of God, his wife, his family and, ultimately, himself. Can he complete this race? He knows that this is beyond his own efforts, but the goal is to try.
So have a blessed Lent, Mr. McConaughey.
Now, I realize that journalists could not stop the Oscars train last night and try to write a story about this actor's private life. However, this was one of the more interesting acceptance speeches of the night and it appears to have created a bit of a hushed silence, followed by a buzz. Was this man actually saying that he is some kind of a, well, Christian?
Of course, it has been two years since the paparazzi literally chased McConaughey and his fiance (at that time) after church during the Cannes Film Festival. That led to this material in The Daily Mail:
The couple that prays together, stays together.
Matthew McConaughey and his long-term love Camila Alves were spotted leaving a Cannes church together yesterday. ...
The Christian couple, who originally met at a Los Angeles bar in 2006, are regularly seen attending mass with their two children, three-year-old son Levi and two-year-old daughter Vida, at a church near their $4 million, seven-bedroom home in Austin, Texas.
Yes, there is a bit more on the family angle:
According to Camila, marriage is more a formality to the life they already built together. 'We've been living a married life this whole time,' the brunette beauty said.
'A lot of people, sometimes they're so stuck on "I gotta get married, I gotta get married." They forget that the really important thing is to have a healthy home, a healthy family, a healthy environment for your kids and to have everything going in a good, peaceful way.'
However, Camila added that solidifying their bond legally is definitely a good thing for their children.
Lots of interesting information in there, including the regular Mass attendance.
So if a journalist attempted to follow up on the content of the Oscar speech, after looking at the connections between the three sections of the text, would it help or hurt McConaughey in postmodern Hollywood?
Just asking. This could be an interesting story. Stay tuned.