At this year's Golden Globe Awards, we couldn't escape hearing the word "courage" again and again. Hugh Jackman mentioned the "courage" it took to produce Les Miserables, one of the producers of Game Change praised HBO for being a "courageous" network and even Jodie Foster's speech was lauded as "courageous." Even CNN got into the game, noting the "courage" it took for the Hollywood Press Association to vote actress Lena Dunham winner for Girls. I'm a big movie and TV fan, and we all love a good awards show, but should we consider Sunday night's honorees examples of real courage?
I'm the last person to be a party pooper, but I'm wondering if it's time for a cultural reset on the word. After all, civil rights marchers who faced police dogs and fire hoses come to mind when I hear the word courage. There aren't any awards for the soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. A friend of mine is a fireman, and wouldn't hesitate to rush into a burning home to save a family -- but there aren't any awards for that. The countless moms who fight school districts in an effort to fix failing schools, or families struggling in a dismal economy. That's how I picture the word courage.
Let's have fun with the awards shows, and celebrate the fascination most of us have with celebrities. As much as anyone, I enjoy a lively conversation about current movies or TV series, and I don't have a problem with giving them an annual night of self-congratulation.
But with many people in Sunday night's event making multi-million dollar salaries (talk about the "one percent") and enjoying perks like mobile dressing rooms, mansions and limos, it becomes a bit difficult to justify the word courage. I have the greatest admiration for filmmakers, writers, actors, and artists of all kinds. Many of them fight for years to get their talent and ideas noticed and valued. In that pursuit, there's no question that they exhibit commitment, persistence, focus, and determination.
But courage? Probably not.