The real fun of the Oscars isn’t the cut-throat competition for the little gold naked man but guessing who will make the biggest idiot of himself.
The Academy Awards show has a fine tradition of pampered celebrities popping off with something stupid when they hit the stage. It must be something about TV cameras and the opportunity to make damn fools of themselves before tens of millions of people around the world that the Hollywoodoids find irresistible. Notice how you never hear any fallout from the “technical awards” ceremony? You know, the non televised ceremony recognizing the boring technological stuff that actually makes movies possible that is usually held at the Beverly Hills Elks Lodge with hosts Steve Guttenberg, Charo and/or one of the lesser Sweathogs.
Some of the past magic moments are legendary. Remember back in 1993, when Tim Robbins and his then-gal pal, tranny vomit insanity enthusiast Susan Sarandon, harangued the crowd about the detention of Haitian refugees? Of course, right after that these stars led the way by opening up the grounds of their mansion to these huddled Haitian masses.
Roberto Benigni engaged in memorably tiresome antics after winning “Best Foreign Language Film of 1997” for the Worst Film of All Time, the insanely appalling Life Is Beautiful. Life has certainly aged well, and Benigni’s shtick has only gotten fresher, contributing to the runaway freight train of success that his career has become since then.
Another highlight was the 1973 appearance of Indian activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept Marlon Brando’s Oscar for The Godfather. Of course, after that powerful indictment of American society, things began to change. Her earnest speech was the inspiration behind the movement to allow Native Americans to reject reservation socialism, to fully embrace the free market model, and to find prosperity delivering quality entertainment, gaming and vacation opportunities to their fellow Americans. Or so I’ve heard. Little known fact: She convinced Brando to let her accept the award by offering him a muffin.
Occasionally the real people who actually make movies happen – the teamsters, the grips, and the other hardscrabble folks behind the scenes – will make their presence known during a particularly stupid speech. For example, back in 2003, Michael Moore decided to use his win to spout off as America headed to war in Iraq. Running down our country in front of a teamster? Bad, bad idea. The thunderous booing of these all-American Joes and Janes humiliated the clown who fancies himself their voice – not that he’d be caught dead within a dozen miles of blue collar Americans. It also led to Steve Martin’s joke about Big Mikey being helped into his limo’s trunk – a zinger on a couple levels. Moore was lucky to get out of there without an Oscar suppository.
So who is going to spout off this year? Oh, the competition is fierce.
Let’s look at the Best Picture nominees. There’s what – 37 of them this year? So many opportunities to say something dumb.
The Blind Side and Up are positive pictures with important messages of hope, so we don’t need to bother with thinking about what happens if they win because they won’t. A Serious Man takes religion kind of seriously; count that out too.
The same with District 9, though if it does sneak through – remember 3-6 Mafia – then expect the producers to repeat, in an indecipherable Boer accent, its profound message that apartheid of intergalactic crustaceans is very, very bad.
Up In The Air is a movie about (among other things) the trauma of losing your livelihood. Don’t hold your breath for an unflattering reference to the current Administration’s campaign of employment extermination. At best, watch for an “It’s still all Bush’s fault!” sideswipe if George Clooney takes Best Actor.
The same is true of the urban nightmare Precious. As we know, the ghetto was a fairytale wonderland before the BusHitler contingent came in and ruined it.
A win for An Education, a tale of a teenage girl having sex with an adult, is the perfect moment for a shout-out of solidarity with Roman Polanski – who, after all, is the real victim.
If Inglorious Basterds wins, look for lots of log-rolling about how brave the Academy was to choose it, with its graphic violence, interminable stretches of over-praised dialogue and coherence-optional story line. The courageous ballot-casters of Hollywood are the real heroes. And heaven forbid chatty Quentin Tarantino win as Best Director. First, he’s an overpraised hack. Second, his speech will take 20 minutes out of our lives that we’ll never get back.
You’ll hear plenty about how the producers “support” our soldiers if The Hurt Locker pulls off Best Picture. It would be nice to hear some support for servicemembers not just as tragic victims but for their performance in winning the war they found (and still find) important enough to volunteer to go off and risk their lives fighting. In the off chance that someone, somehow should utter the word “victory,” watch the entire proceedings come to a flying stop.
If Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win Best Director, expect lots of talk of glass ceilings, breaking barriers and “the pioneers who came before me.” That’s all okay – she really is a trailblazer, you know, kind of like Sarah Palin. Nice to see Hollywood finally catching up with the Republican Party on gender diversity.
Now, if Jeremy Renner wins Best Actor for The Hurt Locker, I expect nothing but class. This is a guy who seems to have worked hard, perfected his craft, and finally caught a break. In interviews he seems not entitled but – gasp! – grateful, and he always gives credit to others like Anthony Mackie, his co-star who was freakin’ robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
Similarly, if Sandra Bullock wins for her role as a decent human being – for many other actors, this is a huge stretch – I expect a classy speech. The same is true about Meryl Streep and the rest of the Best Actress contenders. However, in the Best Supporting Actor category, we might have some awesome opportunities for inanity.
Matt Damon is nominated and he’s sure to pick up Tim Robbins’ Torch O’ Stupidity and carry it aloft. There’s health care reform, climate change and, of course, supporting the troops but not the war – it’s a cornucopia of topics upon which he can offer the full benefit of his inexperience.
Woody Harrelson plays a soldier, so should he win, look for some “We support the soldiers but not the war” nonsense – assuming he moderates his pre-ceremony bong hit intake enough to find the stage.
And then there’s Avatar, the bête noir of Big Hollywood. Will we see James Cameron issue a humble statement of regret that its giddy depiction of American soldiers being slaughtered was misconstrued? Doubtful, since it hasn’t been misconstrued. Cameron’s petty god complex has been in full effect for a couple of decades now, so don’t look for humility. More likely, if the King of the World wins we’ll see shrill crowing about his come-from-behind triumph over the unnamed “critics” who refuse to suspend their disbelief and love of country and embrace the magic that is his masterpiece, Space Fahrenheit-Pocahontas 9/11.
And, no matter what, to the extent it comes up, he’ll “support” the troops. They always support the troops. Just not anything the troops actually do.