J.K. Simmons Wants You to Call Your Mom

When'd you last call your parents (ew.com)?

When’d you last call your parents (ew.com)?

Every Oscars broadcast needs some surprises. Otherwise, why would anyone watch? This year, it was J.K. Simmons (who I will always think of as Juno’s dad) who brought the applause-worthy, relatable message.

The Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner for WhiplashSimmons offered refreshing remarks in his acceptance speech this past weekend:

After thanking his wife and praising his kids, he made a plea to the crowd to be thankful for the real ‘best supporters’: “Call your mom. Everybody, call your dad… If you’re lucky to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone, tell them you love them and thank them and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.” He concluded with a loud “Thank you, thank you mom and dad!”

As a parent, I rather liked that. As a daughter who has come to appreciate my parents so much more since beginning my own parenting journey, I doubly liked it. And as a conservative who believes that family is the fundamental building block of society, I really appreciated hearing an Oscar winner use his brief thank you speech to acknowledge the importance of family in his own life.

We don’t know much about the people we watch on-screen, because acting inherently camouflages the underlying person. However, awards acceptance speeches offer special insight into winners’ thinking. Those individuals have a brief moment to thank those they consider responsible for their success, and the results are edifying. Steven Spielberg was thanked 42 times, Harvey Weinstein 34, and G-d a mere 20, on Sunday night.

Conservatives have come to expect certain things from Hollywood, and a genuine love of family is not often among them. Whether it’s the amoral (or immoral) movies they produce, or their own lifestyle choices (say, pregnancy before, or without, marriage), Hollywood types inhabit, and promote, a world most of us don’t want for our children.

Now that I have a preschooler who actively engages the world around her and parrots everything she hears, I find it increasingly difficult—and important—to expose her to people and media that reflect our family’s values. That is easier said than done, but the centrality of family is one of those values.

Family informs who we are, and who we become. And no one is more crucial to that development than our parents. With great patience, they teach us basic life skills, like eating and walking. When we fall, they pick us up and give us the courage to persevere. Parents take pride in our successes and share our sadness when life is lemon-filled.

So, Simmons is right. When something fantastic happens to us, like winning an Oscar, there are few people on the planet who share our excitement like our parents, who have been there with us since day one—unlike agents and managers. We should let them.

It was such an unexpected to treat to hear that message at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. With J.K. Simmons, we’ve finally found a celebrity who really is just like us, in the best way possible. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call my parents.

This article appeared in Acculturated.

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