Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars vs. The Real World

To see my recap of the Oscars,  click here

So this morning CNN ran an opinion piece on its website by some random dude a film critic named John Anderson.  Mr. Anderson's opinions were about last night's Oscar broadcast.  He thought it was dull and predictable and didn't feature enough Hollywood types mouthing off about their political opinions.  I'm not 100% sure, but I think opinions 1 and 2 were related in his mind to opinion 3. 

No, just kidding.  I'm 100% sure.  Well, Mr. Anderson also thought the awards were predictable because the people and films that were favored to win actually won.  Apparently it would have been far edgier for the Academy voters to pin their ballots to a dartboard or let their neighbor's toddler randomly mark winners with a purple crayon. 

Yes, a lot of great Oscar moments have been created when a dark-horse nominee took home the trophy instead of the favorite (think Roberto Benigni winning Best Actor in 1999).  So have a lot of embarrassing hindsight-is-20/20 moments (think How Green Is My Valley beating Citizen Kane).  I would suggest to Mr. Anderson that when movie people say "It's an honor just to be nominated," they almost always mean "I'm enjoying the ride while it lasts, because we all know that X should win."  Oddly enough, picking a winner out of left field rarely changes anybody's opinion of who should have won (think Marisa Tomei's 1993 victory over four of the greatest actresses of our time).  Maybe, just maybe The King's Speech was the favorite because it deserved to be.  (I haven't seen it, but I think Colin Firth is a pure British hottie.)

Mr. Anderson didn't like that the ceremony included two very visible links to Hollywood's past, either.  Those would be the tribute to 18-time Oscar host Bob Hope and Kirk Douglas' appearance presenting the Best Supporting Actress award (which he referred to as a "cruel and unusual [act]"). 

Since this is obviously the man's first time watching the Academy Awards, I'll point out that every single Oscar night ever has been a drool-soaked valentine to Hollywood, and that the Academy's go-to theme is The Glorious History of Itself.  If you don't dig on the movies, past and present, then why are you watching?

In the case of Mr. Anderson, it's to hear filmmakers pontificate on the state of the world, of course.  What bothered him most of all about the Oscars - more than James Franco's flabby butt or Scarlett Johansson's urgent need to fire her stylist - was its lack of rhetoric.  "There wasn't a peep," he lamented, "about Egypt, or Libya, or Wisconsin, or the noxious political conversation in greater America."

No unsolicited opinions from flaky millionaires on topics that have nothing to do with rewarding the makers of escapist entertainment?  Well, spray-paint a cartoon character on my ass and call me Banksy.

You see, Mr. Anderson, Hollywood celebrities already have a forum for their views.  It's called every goddamn media outlet on the planet.  And we listen to them - mostly because it's almost impossible to tune them out, but sometimes because even an overpaid entertainer has intelligent, provocative things to say.  So on a night already devoted to kissing their butts, do we also have to indulge their collective Messiah complex?

I like the pretty dresses and the movie clips and the mindless spectacle.  I appreciate good films as art, and admire their ability to transcend make-believe with an important message about love, suffering, or hating Republicans.  I don't care what Warren Beatty thinks about the likelihood of Syria becoming involved in a democratic revolution.  At least not on Oscar night.

If you want the real world, Mr. Anderson, watch "Meet the Press."  Let me know if David Gregory shows up dressed as Marilyn Monroe.

1 comment:

  1. "Scarlett Johansson's urgent need to fire her stylist..." is my pick for best line in a field full of them.


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