While on stage to accept her second Oscar, Cate Blanchett made an impassioned plea for making more feature length films with female characters at their center. She said that the film “Blue Jasmine” for which she won the Oscar was the proof that such movies were craved by moviegoers. At the end of her monologue she quipped, “The world is round, people!”
I have no real dog in the fight she was trying to turn the spotlight on. I don’t watch enough films to even know if the lack of female centered films is a real issue. It may well be. But what struck me was that quip of hers, “The world is round, people!”
Even though most every scholar that researches how people think will tell you we are in a period of thought called post-modernism in which completely contradictory ideas can carelessly bounce off one another without any resulting big bang, statements like Cate’s prove the opposite.
Her little quip sounded very familiar to me. It was a way of saying, “This is settled everyone. Move on.” In her mind, the idea that women are just as able to draw people to a movie is as obvious and decided as the fact that the world is round. If you don’t agree with he on this, you are a flat-earther.
As I said, I have no opinion on the question at hand but my guess is that many would not consider it a settled issue. Her very impassioned speech itself suggest that it is not really settled.
There are many things which our supposedly uber-tolerant world no longer will tolerate. They are settled issues in the mind of most of the culture. They are obviously not really settled, but the proponents are putting on Oscar worthy performances suggesting that they are. Here are three such issues.
- The world was created through evolution over many, many years.
- Women must pursue a career outside the home to be both happy and successful.
- Homosexuality is natural and moral.
What the proponents of these views are doing is quite smart rhetorically. By claiming the debate is over, they gain two things advantageous for themselves and their positions. One, they no longer have to engage in debates which might expose weaknesses in their positions. And secondly, they get to quip, “The world is round, people!” at those who do not agree. They can easily mock their opponents by suggesting that if you don’t agree with their position, you are a flat-earther.
This tactic is meant to silence detractors by making them look and feel like fools for holding a position other than the one presented as the settled truth. And we must admit that the tactic often works. It is hard to go to the science museum and not be silenced by the repetition of the mantra, “Millions of years ago.” Women who have chosen to dedicate themselves to managing the home and raising children are silenced by the looks and mocking comments made by those women chasing this dream or that. Young Christians are pressured into silence because every group and program on their college campus threatens them with pleas for quiet tolerance when it comes to homosexuality.
If we are honest, all of us who do not believe that these are settled issues in our culture are often silent because we fear what the mockery that comes with speaking out. But cannot be silent. We need not be vitriolic when we speak but we must speak the truth. We must with gentleness an respect make clear that the debate is not over.
When Bill Nye debated Ken Ham recently many in the scientific community were quite upset even before the debate began. You know why? They felt that just by agreeing to the debate he gave the impression that the whole topic was debatable. Years of pretending it was all settled were thrown into doubt.
We have to continue to keep these conversations going. While we will never win the culture battles by clever and eloquent words, we can be the means by which God’s all-powerful word goes forth and accomplishes that for which he sent it. And that should be reason enough for us to refuse to be silenced by this hardball tactic that is becoming quite common.