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Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Would Charlton Heston have posed for Ellen’s selfie during Sunday night’s Academy Award ceremony?

If in character as Moses, probably not.

The TV talk show host’s lightning-quick delivery was nearly double-time to fit the time constraints of the show, which noticeably quickened in pace in the last half-hour. Before that, she whipped out that looking glass of a machine called the Galaxy Note 3 and had actor Bradley Cooper do the honors on the temporary immortalization everyone and their brother is doing these days.

Reports say pieces of Jared Leto’s and Lupita Nyong’o’s faces are visible, while Liza Minnelli is barely detectible. Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Pitt are in the photo, while Meryl Streep, whose talent and versatility is far greater than any of the aforementioned, is down in front, partially blocked by the night’s Ellen of Ceremonies.

By midnight in the Central Time Zone, it had been retweeted 2 million times — a record in the Twit World. Temporary immortalization. It’s what technology has done for us. Or, to us, depending on your perspective.

It’s easy for captious critics like me to have a little fun at the expense of the vain. Vanity is all around us now, thanks to social media. I’m on the network strictly for work purposes and to slide along timely bits of humor to people who like to broadcast every emotion large and small that enters their mind.

The concept of “graven images” is irresistible at this point.

The Book of Exodus contains the passage “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Idolatry has no complete definition in the Bible; theologians through the years have simply summarized it as the worship of images or created things in place of studious, earnest worship of a single God.

Back then, people used metal or wood carvings as their stand-in for a smartphone. Batteries and phone plugs weren’t as urgently necessary then as they seem to be in 2014. I’d have likely used mine as a weapon to throw at people, much like the old Nokia cellphones of the late 19990s and early 2000s. Those were the days, my friend.

Anyway, Ben Hur would have had nothing of the spontaneous self-portrait of Hollywood’s nouveau elite. I have the feeling he would have split the joint faster than the chariot he rode in what was among the modern American cinema’s first action scene.

If Ben Hur had a Twitter account, he’d have to name it after the raucous rap tune by DMX from a few years ago — @UpinHurUpinHur.

Danny Barrett Jr. is the assistant managing editor. He can be reached by email at danny.barrett@vicksburgpost.com.