What stood out most glaringly about the ceremony was the extent to which the realities of life faced by millions of people were absent, both in the films honored (with few exceptions) and the program itself. The world and the country are gripped by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, bringing with it high levels of unemployment and social misery, the Obama administration is prosecuting two neo-colonial wars and threatening more, the US seethes with social frustration and discontent, and yet none of this found the slightest expression in last night’s broadcast.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up