This article appeared in the January 22, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Around Oscars, unity in the friendly arguments we share

Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters
Ron Clark Academy fifth graders watched the film ‘Black Panther’ at Atlantic Station theaters in Atlanta last year.

There’s something uniting about a movie theater. The lights go down, the screen flickers and comes alive, and for two hours we share, with complete strangers, a story that is usually far clearer than the world’s troubles that we have let fade temporarily into the background.

The ambiguity we find onscreen can be beautiful and alluring; not so the troubling questions swirling around those Catholic school boys and whether they provoked a run-in with a Native American elder. In a movie, an injustice has meaning; on a football field, a key blown call just seems grossly unfair and irreparable.

Today’s announcement of the film nominees for the 91st Academy Awards is another chance to come together. Sure, we’ll debate whether “Roma” or “Black Panther” is the better movie and if Glenn Close or Lady Gaga deserves best actress. But these friendly arguments, like the movies themselves, are something we share.

It’s disconcerting that the ceremony probably will have no host after comedian Kevin Hart pulled out because of old antigay tweets. (How old do one’s wrong comments have to be before society forgives them? Is there no host who can lead us through Hollywood’s big night?) But it’s not the first time. In 1969, when a deeply divided America was beginning to see student riots and to reexamine the Vietnam War, the 41st Academy Awards also had no host. Instead, Hollywood kicked off the event with Gregory Peck and a host of white and black A-listers: a reminder of our shared cultural heritage and how we still cheer our heroes on the silver screen.

Now to our five stories for today, including a look at Russia contemplating government after Putin and a nonprofit that gives custom-fit clothing to men in need.

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This article appeared in the January 22, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/22 edition