There are many ways to calculate who is a "player" in Hollywood and who is not.
However, Chris Pratt has to near the top of any current list of performers whose name on a marquee will inspire millions of ordinary Americans to shell out cash for movie tickets. Where would Hollywood be, in the summer of 2018, without his clout at the box office?
Now, Pratt made some comments the other day that lit up Twitter, but not conventional news outlets -- especially print sources. For me, this raised a variation on an old, old question that I hear all the time from readers: Why are some unusual public statements or events considered news, while others are not?
So what are we talking about, in this case? Well, CNN did offer a short report on what Pratt had to say. Here is the top:
(CNN) Preach, Chris Pratt.
The actor received the Generation Award at the MTV Movie & TV Awards on Monday night and used his speech as an opportunity to share some wisdom with the event's younger viewers.
"I'm going to cut to the chase and I am going to speak to you, the next generation," Pratt said. "I accept the responsibility as your elder. So, listen up."
What followed was a list of Pratt's nine rules for living.
The choice of the word "preach" in the lede hints at what happened here.
Basically, Pratt -- mixing toilet humor with understated theology -- served up what seemed like at rather crass sermonette by a church youth pastor. A few lines were certainly not pulpit-safe material, but Pratt also was surprising blunt when expressing some of his views as a rather outspoken evangelical Christian (at least in the context of Hollywood).
So here is my question: Were his remarks "news"?
If Pratt had attacked President Donald Trump, would that have been "news"?
If Pratt had expressed doubts about global warming, would that have been "news"?
What if he had offered some tabloid-level insights into his love life, post divorce? Would that have been news?
So was Pratt's public and quite explicit message about faith news or not?
If you looked at the MTV coverage of what Pratt had to say, it's pretty clear that the network didn't quite know what to say. The lede:
Chris Pratt is making you reconsider your Chris rankings. ... Hollywood's billion-dollar everyman accepted the Generation Award at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards with grace, humility, and poop jokes.
In this case, "grace" could have been used in a theological context.
CBS News offered the best summary of Pratt's mini-sermon, opening with this:
Actor Chris Pratt has some biblical -- and humorous -- words of advice for the next generation. The "Jurassic World" star put his faith on full view when he accepted the "Generation Award" at Monday night's MTV Movie & TV Awards and imparted his nine essential life rules.
"I accept the responsibility as your elder, so listen up," Pratt said.
The report included some of the key religious language and noted the online response to it:
Number one? "Breathe," Pratt said. "If you don't, you'll suffocate."
Two: "You have a soul. Be careful with it." And three, in Pratt's words, "Don't be a turd." He also quipped a few more less-serious lessons, like how to best use the bathroom at a party and how to give a dog medicine, before getting to his deeper, more powerful words of wisdom.
Rules six and eight seemed to strike the biggest chord on social media.
"God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do," Pratt said. "Learn to pray. It's easy and it's so good for your soul."
Pratt, 38, then wrapped up his speech with his last rule: "Nobody is perfect."
"There is a powerful force that designed you that way and if you're willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift," Pratt told the audience. "And like the freedom we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood. Do not forget it."
Actually, that final rule was a bit more complex than the CBS report indicated, especially if one considers Hollywood's reputation as a war zone for giant egos. So here is the full version of rule No. 9:
Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood. Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted.
Yes, I believe those final phrases are references to the crucifixion of Jesus. That kind of religious language is way more explicit than the normal generic Godtalk featured in award ceremony acceptance speeches.
So, yes or no. Were Pratt's remarks newsworthy, when compared with other Hollywood-meets-politics topics that consistently create headlines?
If the answer is "no," then why is that the case?