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Entertainment / Fatwah / movies / March 9, 2010

OSCARS/

I woke up for the second morning in a row with a vague feeling that something terrible had happened. Then I remembered I watched the Oscars.

It didn’t strike me at the time, because the Academy Awards ceremony is when I vacuum and find excuses to hammer nails into walls and things. That drowns out the worst of the acceptance speeches, but you can still see people standing there preening in ghastly shiny outfits that make for nice easy mocking, if you should happen to want to call a supremely sarcastic friend later on in order to excoriate the whole hideous spectacle, as I do.

But this year there was something unusually bad happening, a kind of TV-borne virus that entered the human system through the eyes and caused a delayed reaction of nausea, exhaustion, hives, brain fever, and suicidal thoughts. I think its source might’ve been that tinsel curtain behind the hosts. It was such a sad echo of early, naïve, much more vigorous American showbiz wow—the old Carol Burnett Show had a curtain like that, if I remember right, and also the June Taylor dancers, who apparently came up out of their graves to dance with Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscars.

So what, you say. It’s a retro tribute type thing, reviving the old variety show aesthetic, cheesy glamour, corny laffs, all that. Get over it.

But I can’t. There was something really horrible about it.

It wasn’t the actual content of the show, which is always bad. Total filmic mediocrity is praised to the skies, exceptional work is shunned. Simpering creeps sashay up to the mike to show you how a corrupt god favors the stupid, vain, and nasty. Juvenal would’ve loved watching the Oscars; as satire, the thing writes itself. That’s the whole fascination. That, plus the rare, rare occasions when something worthy gets a prize, almost by accident, the exception that proves the rule. Christoph Waltz really was great in Inglourious Basterds; Jeff Bridges was tremendous in The Big Lebowski and many other things, but he won for Crazy Heart—okay. All the rest was crap. In other words, business as usual.

(Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director? HAH-ha ha ha ha! Well, it would be funny if it weren’t so sickening. That pompous she-git, Bigelow never did another decent thing after Near Dark. God damn! You ever try to sit through Blue Steel? I dare you! Why didn’t you just give the award to Barbra Streisand when you had the chance to honor a grotesque token-female director, Academy?)

No, it wasn’t the content. It was the whole pitiful presentation. It was like some nightmare of the End of Days in America, the not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper finale. Or, as Mark Ames put it:

The whole thing was very post-Soviet, like those cheesy pop TV shows in the Putin era. Decline looks like: replacing Jon Stewart with Doogie Howser, Steve Martin (our most Soviet of all comedians) and whatever Alec Baldwin represents.

In this context, Alec Baldwin represents pudgy complacency, officious cluelessness. When not actually screeching at his daughter, he generally lapses into this Ugly American persona, lecturing others on proper political and moral stances. His natural comic genius only emerges in tailor-made roles (Miami Heat, State and Main, 30 Rock), so it didn’t make an appearance at the Academy Awards, where he was trading stilted one-liners with Steve Martin like they were a zombie Rowan & Martin from Laugh-in.

oscar-nominees-complete-list-academy-awardsjpg-cbe49c920b948b64_large

Yet about two minutes after the Oscars ended, it would seem, he was writing an article for the Huffington Post praising himself for meeting the challenge of hosting the Oscars. In his “Thoughts On Hosting the 2010 Academy Awards,” he snuffles,

Steve Martin and I worked rather hard, along with the writers and producers, to make sure our contribution did not detract from the primary purpose of the evening, honoring the highest achievements in film.

Who has “thoughts” like that? Apparently he thinks in promo-material, in ad-copy, in officialese. According to George Orwell, that’s “decline and fall” talk. Take a gander at “Politics and the English Language”—he’s got a lot to say about what it means when everybody’s talking and writing in soulless boilerplate. And that night-of-the-living-dead horror show we watched on Sunday was a perfect visual complement.

Oscars - Show

36 Comments

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  • 1. FrankMcG  |  March 9th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Getting rid of Jon Stewart is a BAD thing?

    If you want an example of American discourse in decline, I can’t think of any better one than Stewart. I hated Bush as much as the last guy, probably more so, but I get blood pressure pangs every time I hear some 20/30 something go on about how only The Daily Show is unafraid to ask the TOUGH QUESTIONS. God help anyone who takes that show seriously as their sole source of news.

    He’s not even a funny, clever, or insightful guy. Mugging for the camera does not equal comedy.

  • 2. peter  |  March 9th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Are you kidding? The Hurt Locker was a great movie. Did you see it? Do you also know that only closet-cases like myself like Hurt Locker, not because of half of the movie involves a bunch of beefy army guys getting all drunk and rolling around on the floor hugging and wrestling and talking about “feelings.” No we like it for its realism and scrotum-tightening suspense.

  • 3. Connors  |  March 9th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I agree with the two commenters so far. Jon Stewart is overrated and basically sucks. Can’t watch him. The Hurt Locker WAS a great movie. Easily best of the year. Jeremy Renner should’ve won Best Actor, too. That was the show’s one mistake.

  • 4. Yes Massa  |  March 9th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Every year I think the Oscars will implode from the infinitely dense accumulation of self-congratulation and irrelevance.

    Every year I think “this was worthless television, never shall I watch it again.”

    Every year a confederacy of dunces in the entertainment industry somehow manages to get me to tune in again.

    At least there’s next to no chance I’ll have to look at Gabourey Sidibe’s fatness again. Christ, I wonder if they made her buy an extra seat, airline style…

  • 5. matt  |  March 9th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    haha: “that was the show’s one mistake.” It’s the Oscars shithead; the whole thing’s just one giant self-congratulatory slap on the back for the wealthy. The fact that you think there’s only one mistake during several hours of well-to-do people jerking each other off says a lot about you and your intellect. In fact, how anyone can actually sit through an awards show is beyond me.

  • 6. Myf  |  March 9th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    How is Steve Martin America’s most Soviet comedian? Is it the safe family friendly material and harmless slapstick? Or some place in a historical continuity that I don’t understand because I’m not old enough?

  • 7. Diet Coke  |  March 9th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Hurt Locker was a good movie, but it wasn’t as a good as Inglourious Basterds, and by good I of course mean fascist.

  • 8. john  |  March 9th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    You have no clue what Soviet things and people were like. You know about them only what anti-communist propaganda taught
    you about them and those things are just plain wrong. So do us a favor and never use Soviet as a synonym of bad.

  • 9. Peter  |  March 9th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Inglorious Basterds was an awesome movie, both for the acting and dialogue, but the plot was just too ridiculous and full of holes for it to win best picture.
    Avatar was like a really expensive disney cartoon. ‘Nuff said.
    I’m looking forward to seeing Hurt Locker, hoping it deserved Best Picture.

  • 10. Zhlobko Yebic  |  March 9th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Hurt Locker was Amerikos gavno.

    Evil stormtroopers invade a foreign land and getting blowed up. Boo hoo.

    Jingoist junk. I was surprised anyone took it seriously.

    Surprised too, that any Exilers liked the movie…

  • 11. mydick  |  March 9th, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    1) If you commenters don’t like Jon Stewart you are fucking idiots.

    2) As Jon Stewart pointed out, the Academy Awards did have one funny joke: when Steve Martin mentioned that Meryl Streep had a vast collection of Hitler memorabilia.

  • 12. pedro  |  March 10th, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I would like to bonk/pork/screw either of the two dancing girls in the main photo. If I had to choose I think I’d go the one on the left although it is a close choice.

    You refer to the Oscars as self Congratulatory- I call it mutual masturbation.

  • 13. Mudhead  |  March 10th, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Hurt Locker was slickly made, but if think about it for ten seconds, it is so unrealistic and silly that it makes absolutely no sense. And what is wrong with Alec Baldwin The man is only 51 years old; yet he looks utterly dissipated.He looked like he was squeezed into his tuxedo and was about to explode any second.

  • 14. Chester  |  March 10th, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Don’t take this as an attack on Ames, or a defense of Steve Martin, but what about Steve Martin makes him Soviet?

  • 15. Tam  |  March 10th, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Don’t normally give a damn about the Oscars but really glad to see Jeff Bridges finally getting the respect he deserves from his peers after having done so many great films over the years.

    Everyone who likes this site ought to check out his late 70s film ‘Winter Kills’ (based on a book by the author of ‘The Manchurian Candiate) which is perhaps the most entertaining and cynical conspiracy film you’ll ever see.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080139/

  • 16. Diet Coke  |  March 10th, 2010 at 8:06 am

    “Inglorious Basterds was an awesome movie, both for the acting and dialogue, but the plot was just too ridiculous and full of holes for it to win best picture.”

    Yes but so was fascism in general.

  • 17. Peter  |  March 10th, 2010 at 8:34 am

    “Yes but so was fascism in general.”

    Good one.

  • 18. Connors  |  March 10th, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I know the official hard left (who I usually agree with) has now come out against The Hurt Locker (see Robert Scheer today) claiming it’s a a celebration of American hubris. Or whatever. I just think that’s total bullshit. I saw it when it first came out and thought it was very much an ant-war movie. Sure, it doesn’t hit you over the head with anti-war slogans, but in some ways that’s what’s so effective about it. The Oscars generally suck, I agree, but they did the right thing to award The Hurt Locker Best Picture.

    Basterds was pretty good, but not nearly as well-written as Pulp or Reservoir. It’s more on the Kill Bill level, if that.

  • 19. Mudhead  |  March 10th, 2010 at 11:58 am

    A Serious Man was the best film of 2009.

  • 20. dogbane  |  March 10th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Wait…what? The Oscars were on?

  • 21. BlottoBonVismarck  |  March 10th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    NEOCON ‘POLITICAL PEDOPHILE GROOMING’

    18
    > I know the official hard left (who I usually agree with) has now come out against The Hurt Locker (see Robert Scheer today)

    C – Robert Scheer is about as ‘left’ as Diane Feinstein. Somebody (on the far right) has been giving you sweets and telling you porkies.

    LEFT, RIGHT, FURTHER RIGHT AND BONKERS RIGHT – THE US

    Outside the US the terms left and right have generally agreed meanings. Inside the US that meaning has been deliberately skewed.

    Europe has Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyites and Maoists on the (far) left. It has Socialists on the left. It has Labour just left of the middle. It has Social-Democrats in the middle. Then Christian Democrats on the right. It has Conservatives on the (far) right. Then there are the (US) Democrats and Republicans on the (very far) right. And Margaret Thatcher. Mussolini is just beside her with ‘her greatest achievement’ – Tony Blair’s New Labour.

    Adolf Hitler is lined up right beside (HA!) the Neocons. Just east of Mussolini and Margaret Thatcher. The (ultra-far) right.

    Notice where the Democrats and Republicans are. Six inches apart and off the scale for any hope of governing, were they in Europe. They would be right beside Jean-Marie Le Pen in France and Jorg Haider in Austria; would be fascists.

    Why would I care? Imagine that you grew up and were ‘educated’ to believe that between the Democrats and Republicans is the ‘middle ground.’ You would have no clue that you had been steered to regard the far right as ‘moderate’ and ‘normal.’ Consider that ‘education’ the Neocon political pedophile grooming of children – namely YOU.

    To a European, this is self-evident. As obvious as night and day. But in the US – as rare as hen’s teeth.

    (*) – Europe – A progressive land of milk and honey, where the crazy right wing is ‘Norwegian conservative guy@ 1.20. From Michael Moore’s Sicko. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svSUCbClg8E

  • 22. Necronomic.JustIce  |  March 10th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    @21 Weren’t the NeoCons birthed from Trotskyites?

    Anywho, How many of these European far-leftist, ( Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyites and Maoists, etc) hold state power? Because, really, we probably have the same university reading circle jerks and book clubs over here – probably selling the same news papers. *yawn*

    I guess I will give you the labor movements – France, and Greece come to mind. Someday we North American’s will remember Mayday was born in Haymarket Square, Chicago, Il. USA.

  • 23. Bob Dobalina  |  March 10th, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks Inglorious Basterds sucked? Actually, I’ve only watched it up until where they beat the nazi to death with a baseball bat. Nothing wrong with that or anything. It’s just that you can feel the egomania oozing through every frame in Tarantino’s films. I don’t see how anyone can watch “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and not see how blantantly Tarantino rips it off. And yes, I’m dissing a movie that I’ve only seen a quarter of, but I subjected myself to Kill Bill so I’ve already seen it. The dialogue or rather dual monologues in Quentin’s films remind me of all the profoundly earthshattering writings I’ve made while on cocaine. In all fairness Pulp Fiction deserves it’s place as a classic.

  • 24. Pádraig Ó Buth Chanain  |  March 10th, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    @22. “Weren’t the NeoCons birthed from Trotskyites?”

    Quite so. For this reason among others, we Marxist-Leninists prefer to call the latter by the full name, “Trotsky-fascists”. By the way, May Day has been celebrated in Europe for thousands of years.

  • 25. Christo  |  March 11th, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Eileen, don’t you mean Alec Baldwin in “Miami Blues”? Great film.

    Yeah, Steve Martin has a sold-out (it pays the bills, I suppose) but he does have his moments, few and far between as they are these days.

    Mudhead, it’s called a chronic cocaine habit: guaranteed to add the pudginess after 40.

  • 26. Not important  |  March 11th, 2010 at 8:49 am

    What are “Oscars”?

  • 27. gary  |  March 11th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    hurt locker was ok..americans came off looking pretty bad with all that “i love war so much” bull..at least basterds was laughing at itself

  • 28. Serge  |  March 12th, 2010 at 6:27 am

    the hurt locker was like cricket: entertainingly dull. Generation Kill already gave us that type of insight, and did it OH SO MUCH better. District 9, now THAT was a decent film (far from what I would award as “best film of the year”, but, considering the options….)

  • 29. Joe Blow  |  March 12th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Hurt Locker sucked. It was dull, trite, insipid, boring, stupid and luckily I walked out in the middle when he started whining about his girlfriend.. so I only wasted 45min.

    IB was a fun movie. can’t be taken seriously.

    Avatar was spectacular. However, it made too much money to win an Oscar.

  • 30. Stanley Gardiner  |  March 12th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I like television.

  • 31. Rich  |  March 13th, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I have not seen the Hurt Locker and thought Avatar was a visually stunning film but what may have wrankled the academy, and why Avatar did not have a real chance to win, was it’s anti-imperialist message that can be applied to Israel and the United States (China/Tibet Russia/Chechnia also). Palestinians noted the message and protested Israel’s ‘wall’….Mr. Netanyau tear down this wall…..in blue Navi garb replete with ears. So for a Hollywood Avatar was not all bad….

  • 32. Karl  |  March 13th, 2010 at 8:19 am

    @12, I have given it thought and I would sooner take the right one. The left one looks better what with the right ones thighs but then the right one has the annoyingly luminous face that on hand you just got to slap out of hatred for it but on the other hand you want it to rip into you and bite off large chunks of meat from your chest. The left one would work better as a longer term trophy wife since the right ones thighs are going to deteriorate soon but for pure one time bonking pleasure it would have to be the more exotic sickly pale broad.

  • 33. klauposius  |  March 13th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I was in a bar watching the oscars many years ago. Ghandi got best picture. I was disgusted. So was half the bar. I have not watched it since. Its an award the industry gives to itself. Its not actually for us.

  • 34. fazzaz  |  March 15th, 2010 at 12:44 am

    I have to go with Karl (#32) on his choice of the sickly pale blond.

    One (1) thumb up.

  • 35. bex  |  March 15th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    @10 – Zhlobko Yebic:

    THANK you! I couldn’t even finish The Hurt Locker because of all the boo-hoo “this job is so tough” BS.

  • 36. Like yah!  |  March 22nd, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Hey people: keep your minds sane. Stop watching TV already. You know it’s worse than Crystal Meth…

    Haven’t seen an Oscar awards ceremony since maybe the late eighties; i give credit to that decision to my not being more of a zombie.

    Who the fuck cares about the recognition the $ gives the $? May Spielberg find many more Madoff’s he can trust.


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