I was similarly appalled by The Oscar ceremonies and the readiness with which the Academy seems hell-bent on undermining every last shred of credibility and self-respect. Of course, this is the ultimate irony for an industry that thrives on creating and promoting the complete opposite i.e. suspending disbelief. (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.) Yet, of late, the Academy seems dedicated to proving William Goldman’s “Nobody Knows Anything” as its most enduring epitaph. With the utterly ridiculous and unnecessary expansion of Best Picture to ten nominees, to the James Franco Ann Hathaway bungle, to the Brett Ratner fiasco, and now this most recent addition to televised nauseam there is one thing glaringly true, The Academy “knows bupkis” about itself, its audience, its mission, or apparently its cultural identity. It is one thing to be self-effacing, but another to be made to look quizzically ridiculous, and to quote a line from one of Hollywood’s more crowning achievements, The Godfather: ” … She threw it all away just to make me look ridiculous. And a man in my position can’t afford to be made to look ridiculous. Now you get the hell out of here! And if that goomba tries any rough stuff, you tell him I ain’t no bandleader.” The sad reality for The Academy is that when even the Hollywood Foreign Press Association manages to come off classier and more sophisticated than The Oscars it is not only time for a new bandleader, but for the whole guild “family” to “go to the mattresses!”
It was definitely a case of generational divide. I watched The Oscars with a few younger friends, and a couple of mentally stunted adults who thought it was hilarious, fresh, and topical. I asked how in any stretch of the imagination William Shatner and Star Trek were topical, and they were stumped. After further inquiry I learned that “topical” for the millennial-minded is anything related to women’s genitalia. (The topicality comes from the idea that women still retain these body parts today as they did in earlier times.) Seth MacFarlane’s musical number “We Saw your Boobs” was a huge, huge hit with this crowd, as were Ann Hathaway’s pert and perky nipples, which I have to say fueled a good three hours of ernest, lively debate. But it wasn’t all high brow, either, for instance, the dancing Gay Men’s Choir sparked an intensely detailed discussion about same sex practices and homosexual proclivities. Oh yeah, Jennifer Lawrence’s stumble was a real triumph of inspiration, too! All in all it was a sophisticated and charming evening off and on the screen.
I find the fanatical literalism demanded of filmmakers today (Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln) to be sadly ironic, stifling and dangerous. How is it we think little of injecting, legislating, and politicizing biblical fiction into our school curriculums, laws, and reproductive rights, while at the same time demand our movies be impeccable historical representations? Who are we as a society when we insist our art and fiction conform to fact, while upholding mythological figures, superstition and belief as the fulcrum of our society and culture?