Theories About Everything

Young British actor Eddie Redmayne won an Best Actor Oscar last night for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything. I haven’t seen it yet, but I figured that playing a guy with severe ALS required some acting chops, so I was not surprised that Redmayne won, he probably deserved it.

Redmayne with Hawking
Redmayne with Hawking

The Theory of Everything was not the only biopic nominated this year. So was American Sniper, a film about Chris Kyle, an American sniper. Unlike Hawking, I do not have a theory of everything, but I have a theory about everything, (well, nearly everything) and one of my theories is that if you took a poll more Americans could identify who Chris Kyle is than Stephen Hawking. I could be wrong, but as I am living in a country where many folks actually believe the President is a secret Muslim and Communist, I kind of doubt it.

I have not seen American Sniper either but I have certainly heard a lot about it and about Chris Kyle. Some folks regard him as a hero; others see him as a “hate-filled killer.” According to The Guardian:

In his memoir, Kyle reportedly described killing as “fun”, something he “loved”; he was unwavering in his belief that everyone he shot was a ‘bad guy’. ‘I hate the damn savages,’ he wrote. ‘I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis.’ He bragged about murdering looters during Hurricane Katrina, though that was never substantiated.”

Real nice guy, huh? American Sniper has been criticized for inaccuracies (like connecting Iraq with 9/11) and painting a distorted picture of Kyle. To be fair, almost all biographical or historical films distort reality, often in order to tell the story in a compressed amount of time, and sometimes for other reasons. Selma, the movie about the famous march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, has also faced some criticism for how it has depicted history (mainly the relationship between King and LBJ).

What I find most interesting, especially considering that Hollywood has such a liberal bias, that a film about an alleged racist received five Academy Award nominations, while the film about a man who gave his life fighting racism received only two. I don’t think it has much to do with the quality of the films, because let’s face it, Clint Eastwood is no Orson Welles. It must be show business . . .

Is there anybody here who thinks that following the orders
Takes away the blame?
Is there anybody here who wouldn’t mind a murder by another name?
Is there anybody here whose pride is on the line?
With the honor of the brave and the courage of the blind?

I wanna see him, I wanna wish him luck
I wanna shake his hand, wanna call his name
Put a medal on the man

Phil Ochs, Is There Anybody Here


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