Why Matthew McConaughey? Why'd you have to bring God into it?
OPINION: It'd be interesting to know how many of the hundreds of millions of people watching the Academy Awards on Monday switched off or hit mute, like I did, when McConaughey invoked the world's most popular imaginary friend during his acceptance speech for the Best Actor gong.
What'd be sobering, however, is how many more - at least in the US - said "Amen, brother" and crossed themselves during the broadcast.
As a massive fan of MMc's work in the current HBO drama True Detective, as well as his role in Dallas Buyer's Club, I'd tuned in to see if my boy could bring home the bauble and, surprisingly as favourite, he beat out the other four pretenders. I actually cheered.
Then he started in: "First off I want to thank God - because that's who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities I know are not of my hand or any human hand."
"He has shown me it's a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late Charlie Lawton: 'You got God, you got a friend. That friend is you'."
Non sequiturs aside, McConaughey's words hit me like ice water dashed on my chest. It was as if I'd discovered a close friend is an anti-vaxer or my partner sees dead people.
How could you disappoint us like this Matthew? I mean, when I'm looking for rationality and logic, if I can't depend on Hollywood, who can I?
Meanwhile, the A-list Oscars audience wondered what to do with their hands. Applause was anaemic.
Fox News and the Bible belt, however, got a good news boner. Rush Limbaugh tweeted his approval, as did the very Christian Texas Governor, Rick Perry, who's due to execute this guy in 12 days - a man who's never actually killed anyone.
Odious conservative commentator Glenn Beck at least showed some humour on his radio show, saying the Oscars crowd had asked "What agency is he with?" when they heard God's name.
Beck makes a salient point.
As avid consumers of American culture, Australians and New Zealanders can be forgiven for forgetting the TV, movies and music we buy (and illegally download) are produced by the one of the most secular portions of the USA - show business.
All this sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll obscures the fact the US is the most religious of any developed nation, where 78 per cent of people believe the Bible to be the literal or "inspired" word of God and just 26 per cent believe in evolution through natural selection.
When McConaughey says something as fuzzy-headed as "it's a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates", he's actually playing to the mainstream, albeit one that seldom pauses to ask why God has also "decided" to answer their population's billions of prayers with the highest economic inequality of any western nation.
McConaughey personifies this blind spot, thanking the Lord for fame, millions of dollars and worldwide adulation but ignoring that the vast majority of the other two billion Christians on earth don't get such special treatment from their benign overlord.
If it seems a little narcissistic, we need just remind ourselves it sits well within the Christian context that teaches an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God listens specifically to the teeny, tiny analogue channel of one's individual prayers.
Usually we have to wait for Mel Gibson to fall off the wagon before we hear such nonsense from a movie star.
- Sydney Morning Herald