Matthew McConaughey at Sunday night’s Oscars delivered what Us Weekly called a “touching” speech, and what Time called “confounding” and a “semi-bizarre tale about his inner life.” Some are praising it because he mentioned God, while others are mocking it.
I’ll just say that McConaughey didn’t mention HIV/AIDS once in his speech. Given that he won the “Best Actor” award for he playing a person with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club,” you’d think maybe he could have paused his self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, self-obessed speech to mention — as did Jared Leto, who also won an Oscar playing a person with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club” — the “36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS.”
But instead, McConaughey talked about the three things he needs: “someone to look up to,” “something to look forward to” and “someone to chase.”
While actors get about two minutes to make their Oscar speeches, usually they take those precious moments to thank those who helped them along the way — their agents, their spouses and families, for instance — and many use that time, as Leto did, to highlight causes that are near and dear to their hearts, as Leto did, and to inspire the world, as Lupita Nyong’o’s amazing speech for winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in “12 Years A Slave” did.
“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” Nyong’o said.
McConaughey certainly honored his family, and God, but the manner in which he did ended up feeling like he merely was pushing pseudo-science and patting himself on the back.
“Now, first off, I want to thank God, ’cause that’s who I look up to,” McConaughey told the millions of people watching around the world.
“He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you’ve got God, you got a friend. And that friend is you.’”
The Independent put it, “Matthew McConaughey thanks himself in Best Actor Oscars 2014 acceptance speech,” while Vogue wrote that “Magic Matt was as upbeat as a man would have to be when his self-absorption isn’t just actorly but cosmic.”
I noticed recently that McConaughey, as he toured the talk shows advertising “Dallas Buyers Club” ahead of the Oscars, has taken one more role: that of a spiritual and career advisor to the acting community. While some may see him as a leader — with or without his Oscar — many see him as a so-so actor who was good in “Contact.”
While I may not be a person of faith, I’d like to believe that Jesus, were he in McConaughey’s shoes last night, would have mentioned the “36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS,” and all those who need our help and attention.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.