One good thing about the Oscars

A young and new star stays true to herself and her values, and by that beautiful simplicty teaches the high and mighty a lesson. How sweet it is.

If you saw Hunger Games, you know Jennifer Lawrence and knew that she had a big future if she wanted to puruse it in film. She went on, and won an Oscar already. Not a surprise. Her post-award press conference was.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence, winner of the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, could teach the political class a thing or two – and not just about acting. Lawrence’s post-Academy Awards press conference was artful, funny, flippant and endearing – at least, it was for the viewers at home. For the press who she ruthlessly mocked and whose questions she reluctantly answered in a glib but charming fashion, Lawrence may not have been their favorite interview of the night.

When asked what the “process” was for preparing to come to the Oscars, Lawrence replied – with all the sincerity and lack of affectation that one would expect from anyone other than an Academy Award-winning actress – that she woke up, took a shower, tried on the dress and “came to the Oscars.” That last bit delivered with a bit of faux pomposity she knows the reporter was expecting…

Lawrence displayed humility and self-deprecation – it was disarming. Probably due mostly to that particular character trait’s conspicuous paucity in Hollywood, as well as Washington D.C.

Right. But so much more than they can comprehend.

New-fashioned Motherhood

So we’re coming full circle, after all the decades of enlightenment and empowerment by the feminist movement. The merits of staying home to raise children well are becoming a newly re-discovered….mother lode for women and families.

Someone had to do it, and the natural was Rachel Campos-Duffy. She has written a book about it, and the title is as delightfully simple as is the concept: Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood. Kathryn Jean Lopez draws her out….which is about as hard as saying “Go.”

The author is looking to preserve that which many prominent women — and men — ran away from for all too long, and have paid a price for losing. And she is living, breathing credibility: a young, Catholic, Hispanic mother of six. Who — for a pop-culture reality check — was once on MTV’s The Real World (she and her husband met at a Real World reunion, as it happens) and was almost a co-host of The View (she has been a guest co-host). And she may also be spending time in Washington come January, when her husband, Sean, hopes to be sworn in to the seat of Rep. David Obey, an appropriations powerhouse who has been in office since 1969 (longer than Duffy has been alive).

What’s going on here?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: I was a finalist for co-host of ABC’s The View twice.

(She should have won the spot two times ago.)

The second time I narrowly lost out in the competition, it occurred to me that I was already doing what God was calling me to do — being home, taking care of my kids. Before that, I sort of thought I was “between gigs,” waiting for my next big break. My oldest was five at that time, and I was starting to see the fruits of my time at home with them — their manners and sense of compassion, the things that happen when you parent well. As I began to appreciate what I was doing as a mom, I simultaneously became aware of how little the culture values it. 

So, unlike the majority of us who say ‘someone ought to do something’….she did something. Her book is full of common sense. But since it’s not so common anymore, it’s refreshing. Like this part…

They really aren’t secrets. They are ideas and techniques for enjoying motherhood that have worked for me. They aren’t complicated. The real secret is internalizing the fact that we all need to constantly recommit, sometimes daily (even hourly!), to whatever principles or techniques make our daily lives more enjoyable and joyful. It’s very easy as moms to get caught up in to-do lists and forget to indulge in our child’s particular laugh or smile.

This is a reminder of simple pleasures, of finding joy in everyday stuff (no matter whether that sounds corny) and especially if it seems mundane.

How did this young woman whose star was rising in Hollywood wind up in Wisconsin, with six children, and so darned happy?

I have MTV to thank for that. Only on The Real World would a conservative Latina from Arizona meet an Irish-American lumberjack attorney from rural Wisconsin. We fell in love and married while I was auditioning for The View. The deal we made was if I got the job, we’d move to New York City. If I didn’t, I would move to Hayward, Wisconsin, his hometown. I didn’t get the job, and I moved from Beverly Hills to rural Wisconsin. I have fallen in love with the people of Wisconsin for the same reasons I fell in love with Sean. They are kind, unassuming, good-natured, and honest. In a nutshell — so not L.A. There is truly no better place to raise kids. As for Wal-Mart, well, I’m not above admitting that most of my date nights with Sean end with a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up diapers and anything else I need.

Which begs the question….what else do we need?

Oscar honors

For the first time in memory, the Motion Picture Academy Awards were understated and toned down, tasteful, on time, tightly controlled and well-paced, and most important of all….fair.

David slew Goliath.

The small independent war drama “The Hurt Locker” won six Academy Awards on Sunday night, including best picture and director for Kathryn Bigelow — marking the first time a woman has taken home such an honor.

The film, which has grossed less than $15 million, beat out the biggest box office film ever, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic “Avatar.”

“There’s no other way to describe this, it’s the moment of a lifetime,” said a tremulous Bigelow, upon receiving the directing Oscar at the 82nd annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre. She dedicated the award to the men and woman in the military who risked their lives and wished that they’d all come home safely.

Yes, it was an honor for the men and women who live those terrible and traumatic realities in far away places while the rest of us enjoy our comforts and liberties.

I’ve seen a lot of war films, but ‘The Hurt Locker’ is unique in the way it tells the story. As one announcer said in the ceremony, ‘it’s not about left or right, it’s just a man on a mission’…and it’s really all the men and women serving a larger mission through their own particular sacrifices.

Well done. Very well done.