After watching last night’s Oscars, one thing is clear: the show is played out.
Everybody agrees. Nikki Finke’s take on the Academy Awards was absolutely brutal: “Is the show over yet? It’s dragged on almost 2 1/2-hours. Kill me now.” And I couldn’t help but laugh at Finke’s take on Oprah Winfrey winning the humanitarian award: “Barf to Oprah Winfrey, the most insufferable hypocrite in Hollywood — and that’s saying a LOT.” Right on the money, Nikki. Over at The Washington Post, Hank Steuver wrote, “Buoyed by a nostalgic notion that a silent movie is totally where it’s at, Sunday night’s 84th annual Academy Awards telecast on ABC turned into a dull exercise in the ol’ Hollywood self-salute, a sentimental journey, as if the industry was performing CPR on a business model that is vanishing before everyone’s eyes.”
The truth is that the biggest problem last night wasn’t just the movies (which nobody had seen) or the unbelievable arrogance of the Hollywood crowd (which is on full display annually). The problem is that if you’re going to do an entertainment show, it should entertain – it shouldn’t be elevator music. It should have something unexpected. The Oscars are formulaic. We know that people are competing for an award, and that we’re announcing the winners. The question is how to excite people between the awards. The answer is, put somebody up there where anything can happen.
By far the best moment of the night last night was Sacha Baron Cohen’s infiltration of the red carpet as the title character from his new movie, The Dictator:
Love it. As he dumped the ashes, in case you missed it, Cohen said “If someone asks who you are wearing, you will say Kim Jong Il.”
Now, here’s the deal. Everybody knows Cohen can be wildly offensive and disgusting. That’s the way he rolls. And the Academy would have to keep their eye on him at all times, with the bleep button ready to go. But he also doesn’t buy into the notion that Hollywood is sacred, and that the red carpet is holy ground. He is willing to poke sacred cows. And he’s not boring.
Plus, can the Oscars truly say that they’re afraid of him being offensive? They’re already offensive, opening with a prolonged man-on-man kiss between botoxed Billy Crystal and the everybody-knows-he’s-straight George Clooney. Or how about Crystal in blackface in the opening? Or how about his jokes about Republican presidential candidates?
The Oscars is constantly offending people. But they’re doing it in the most boring possible way. Why not at least add the risk factor? Why not go all the way? At the very least, it’ll boost the ratings and keep people from nodding off. Plus, it would be hysterical to see Ali G show up to present Meryl Streep with her latest undeserved award. Tell me you wouldn’t watch. Go ahead. Try it.