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The Long, Hot Summer

Well, it’s official.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has extended the eligibility for consideration for Oscars from December 31, 2020, to February 28, 2021.  So, 2020 literally will be two months longer than originally planned—at least for all us film buffs.

Now to be fair to 2020, it is not the worst year of my life, at least not yet.  But we still have six/eight months to go for some fresh hell to present itself.

Last night, I reviewed all of my musings in this column from the beginning of the year to look for some perspective on this year so far.  There was the optimism of starting a new decade, followed by topics that seem downright quaint in retrospect.

There were Democratic debates to process and the death of Kobe Bryant.  Nancy Pelosi ripped up the State of the Union speech.  Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial, with Mitt Romney voting for his removal.  Michael Bloomberg came to the debates with money to burn, and Elizabeth Warren threw the flames back and burned him.  Super Tuesday saw Joe Biden take the lead, Bernie Sanders whined about it, and the faithful Democrats fell in line.  Oh, for those simple times.

Then Miss Corona Barrett raised her ugly head, and suddenly all focus was on her.  She held our attention until George Floyd was killed, which was less than a month ago, although it seems longer.  Protests have taken place around the country and the world, leading to the most substantial conversation about race in America in years.  Some white people are digging in their heels, while others are seeing things that have been hiding in plain sight.  In some cases, right on the breakfast table.

Not to be outdone, Miss Corona takes a page from Roxie Hart’s playbook and declares that she’s giving birth, not to a non-existent baby, but to a second wave.  Actually, it’s not a second wave—the emerging numbers look more like a second wind.

Predictably, many of those heels-dug-in folks are blaming the protests, while the other side is holding the non-mask wearing population responsible for the increases.  Frankly, it’s rather tedious to know that one can reliably forecast what people’s position will be on virtually any issue that comes down the pike if all you need to find out is what they feel about masks, protests, and Donald Trump.  

I say what people are feeling rather than thinking, as there’s more of the former going on than the latter.  We live in a world where to think critically about almost anything might be a bit dangerous.  So it’s easier and safer to “cut and paste” something that has passed muster with a good number of likes, shares, and retweets than it is to articulate one’s own thoughts.  Doing it frequently enough may run the risk of losing the ability to even have thoughts of one’s own. 

In the midst of all of this comes the Supreme Court decision that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes LGBTQ employees in prohibiting discrimination “because of sex.”  This decision is a landmark for the LGBTQ community, even though it is something less than universal in terms of all employees and all situations (housing and medical care, for example), but it’s a win to be taken and celebrated in a time when substantive change is slow in coming.

So as we approach the end of spring, about the only thing of which I’m sure is that it’s going to be a long, hot summer.  But then I live in Texas, so that’s pretty much a safe bet.

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