This Year's Academy Awards Show (Mostly) a Class Act

Even with the ample display of Angelina Jolie's right leg and Jennifer Lopez's left nipple, Sunday's Oscar telecast almost became what it was meant to be, a celebration of entertainment that transports young and old to a better idea of what life can be while encouraging a dignity of life and speech even in the worst situations.

The public wants classic films. That is precisely why "The Artist" won the Best Picture Oscar.

We were spared the intrusive political speeches along with the usual volley of vulgar words, actions and lack of decorum, such as when Marlon Brando refused his Oscar and sent someone representing a cause he supported to accept on his behalf.

Brando's stand-in yanked everyone out of the magic of entertainment that they had come to enjoy and into the every day cesspool of life. That is not what movies or any other entertainment has been anointed to do.

Once upon a time a streaker managed to get backstage and ran stark naked across the stage in front of staid David Niven who was in the process of presenting an Oscar. Niven's droll reaction, of course, provided a delightful moment as the man ran HIS cause across a world stage.

This year's show was one of the best to be presented due to the addition of class and yes, decorum.


There was no sense of furious competition among the nominees, like the recent Screen Actor's Guild Awards show where actors in the audience rolled their eyes disrespectfully when someone other than themselves was named. Their body language spoke volumes about their hostility toward some of their fellow actors.

Fortunately that was not the case Sunday. All the attendees seemed to be supportive and happy with each of the successes in the room. Overall, it was a classy event.

Perhaps the good behavior might have been a calming side effect of the presence of a devoted nun, Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her documentary, "God is the Bigger Elvis." That black habit on the red carpet had a stunning effect.

Mother Hart had been a film actress in her younger days. She gave her first screen kiss to Elvis Presley in the 1957 film Loving You." She starred in nine more movies for six years, then realized that her call to to be a Catholic nun in God's service trumped her love for films and the world itself. She wanted to give herself totally to God's work.

She traveled from the Abbey of Regina Laudis Monastery in Bethlehem, Conn. to attend although her film didn't end up winning. She is not the first to leave show business to enter a religious order, nor is she the only Catholic official to take part in an awards ceremony.

Bishop Fulton Sheen had a TV program in the 1950s called "Life is Worth Living" that became so popular he won an award for the show. In his acceptance speech, he began; "First I would like to thank my writers ... Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

Yes, the 84th Academy of Awards show maintained restraint and dignity even though a couple of people tried to lower that standard by bringing in vulgarity.

T.J. Martin, Daniel Lindsay and Richard Middlemas, the team behind the Oscar-winning documentary "Undefeated," hurled an "F" word during their acceptance speech. They just HAD to do it. They were bleeped before they could even acknowledged anyone who made the documentary happen. Being vulgar was far more important to them.

Martin later uttered a memorably stupid statement about the F-bomb: "It wasn't the classiest thing... but it came from the heart." How's that again? It seemed more logical that it came from another part of the body. Then came a clip of a scene with "Bridesmaids" star Melissa McCarthy who used a vulgar term which was totally unnecessary.

Sacha Baron Cohen of "Borat" was determined to do something over the top to call attention to himself and his new movie, "The Dictator." He walked the red carpet wearing his "Dictator" costume and "accidentally" poured an urn of ashes supposedly of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il over interviewer Ryan Seacrest. Cohen was rightfully escorted away by security guards.

Still, with these amateurish displays, the program was one of the higher level shows of recent years. Billy Crystal did an excellent job as host. He looked comfortable in the role and kept the show moving.

Entertainment should be a refuge in the midst of an uncertain, chaotic world and a place where people feel uplifted by a better representation of people that audiences may want to emulate. They do not pay to go into a theater to be dragged back out and down to hear the gutter talk of the world.


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