By KELLY BRODY
The Oscars this past Sunday had it all: a pizza party, Meryl Streep and Pharell dancing, a record breaking selfie and, of course, many memorable acceptance speeches.
There was Jared Leto, whose heart-touching speech thanked his mom, acknowledged the tragedy in Venezuela and Ukraine, and was dedicated to the millions of people around the world with AIDs. Lupita Nyong’o made her speech all about following your dreams, saying, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” And of course, most every actor who accepted an award thanked their directors, fellow co-stars, and producers.
But this year, a common figure to thank in Oscar acceptance speeches was missing–God. It seems as though, in years past, the first person an award winner would thank would be God or Jesus. The only individual to mention God in their speech this year was the quintessential southern christian boy, Matthew McConaughey.
He did not just briefly mention God’s name either. McConaughey stated, “I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my end or any other human end. He has shown me that it is a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. When you’ve got God, you’ve got a friend.”
Many people responded negatively to McConaughey’s religious devotion in his speech. Tweets like, “Shhh McConaughey stop talking about god you’re ruining it” (@astral_cars) and “When did Matthew McConaughey turn into Joel Osteen?” (@LaineyGossip) swirled about the “Twittersphere” during and after his speech. Even the audience in attendance did not respond too warmly to the God part of McConaughey’s speech, as there was timid applause in comparison to when McConaughey mentioned his dad in heaven and even quoted Dazed and Confused, McConaughey’s first major role, with “Alright, Alright Alright.”
Hollywood has always been seen as a more liberal land, with more libertarian views rather than the conservative. Strong religious views have been mocked and practicing religion is often seen as an ultra conservative activity in Hollywood, versus atheism or not practicing or declaring a religion at all. Hollywood is becoming very secular.
McConaughey’s breakaway from secularization and the negative response he received because of it is proof of the lessening presence of faith in our modern society. We treat those who are religious as the minority now, even “jesus freaks.” It’s just not “cool” or “hip” to be religious.
Maybe McConaughey, with his southern drawl, drug past, beautiful wife and shiny new award will change Hollywood’s perception of religion and mentioning God in a speech will draw actual applause rather than backlash.