Out of the Mouths of BabesMulberrys Moments

February 25, 2015

Remember when the Oscars were a legitimate political event? Before they morphed into a mostly boring product placement opportunity for haute couture designers? It was so much more fun when you could look forward to a near-naked Cher wearing something outrageous, a Native American pinch hitting an incomprehensible acceptance speech for Marlon Brando, or a streaker running across the stage. The pundits are calling this year’s ceremony the most issue-oriented ever; I found it hollow and predictable. The handful of ‘political statements’ were perfunctory comments in a year when there was so much that should have been said.

The winners didn’t have to venture into alien territory to make a statement. No need to talk about Putin’s growing ambitions in Europe or the Ebola crisis in Africa, there was plenty going on this year that directly impacted Hollywood (hint: remember that whole Sony incident? Bill Cosby?). Even when Common and John Legend accepted their Oscar for Glory, they paid mere lip service to the continuing relevance of the Voting Rights Act without addressing the omission of Selma director Ava DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo from the Oscar lineup.

That’s how it feels in Piedmont these days. The biggest brouhahas around town feel like a rote rehash of old resentments. We’re the Hatfield & McCoys, or an old married couple that’s been arguing for so long they can’t even remember what they’re so annoyed about.

Things were different a few years ago, when the Blair Park debate reached its unpleasant crescendo. At least the ugliness centered on an issue that significantly impacted many Piedmonters’ lives. How the town stewards its financial and natural resources, and which of its residents’ demands it chooses to prioritize, is a legitimate question that deserves our attention. Whether there were three or four days of community interviews to gather feedback about the Superintendent position is not. The extent to which the School Board should listen to a single, inane recommendation by one community member to give hiring preference to graduates of US News ‘top schools’ most certainly is not.

The young editors of The Piedmont Highlander said it best when they renounced the finger pointing and the online petitions, urging Piedmont to “show our true power, come together as a community and trust that the board has our best interests at heart. We need to grow up, move on and start working together.” When teenagers have the perspective to spot a fake issue, you know it’s time for the rest of us to lift our eyes from our collective navels and focus on something that actually matters.