Oscars.

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

This blog has reached a point where if I hope to keep it going, I have to resort to just typing out the thoughts I had in the shower. I’ll do this & then go put on some clothes.

So, some things about 83rd Annual Academy Awards, before it ceases to be topical (& let’s face it, nothing about the Oscars has been topical this year, not while Charlie Sheen is somewhere existing):

(I should add: I haven’t read anything about the Oscars since watching them two nights ago, because who cares. If this is what you’re thinking also, I’m in total agreement & you should probably stop reading. I probably won’t read this post either. I don’t know why I’m writing about this here, or if I’m just saying what everyone else is saying.)

The only thematic element I could discern from this year’s lackadaisically written Oscars show was that Anne Hathaway & James Franco are too young (& too tragically hip?) to host the Oscars with panache. It’s a cute idea, & certainly good to at least acknowledge how little they are when you put them next to, O, anyone, but let’s say Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin. & the opening skit featuring the latter doing what basically amounts to a slightly more oracular, Chris Nolan-y Jack Donaghy was a solid nod to whatever whoever hired Hathaway & Franco to host was going for—handing the torch over? Spicing things up? Something. But the way the ceremony proceeded—how it went for a few more awkward laughs about the little kids at the grown-up table before dropping the thread altogether; how James Franco’s staggering ability to suck charisma out of a room left Anne Hathaway’s big beautiful eyes to fend for themselves; the totally weird banter that sounded like fifth graders trying on sarcasm at recess (“Yeah right!”)—made me think twice about whatever generation our hosts were supposed to represent, the generation of which I’m (trying so hard to be characteristically) ambivalently a part.

I guess I just don’t get it. The writing was lazy, the hosts were lazy. (But whoever dresses Anne Hathaway was on fire!) That weirdly artificial, young ambivalence, concealed only partially & half-heartedly by a few insincere gestures at neuroses, was the only well the writers visited more than once, & it only took them about an hour’s worth of material before they found it dry. Believe me, no one finds ambivalence funnier or more charming than I do. But the Oscars has always been a ceremony that’s poked fun at ceremony, a self-parody that, like every good parody, sees something real & important in the thing it’s just got done ribbing, & everything about this year read as if they decided to stop pretending they don’t care & just start not caring. I don’t know. Maybe it was just a flukey test balloon, & they haven’t calibrated the right formula of irony & sincerity yet. (They’ll get it right next year, with inevitable movie stars/hosts Lady Gaga & NBA All-Star Celebrity MVP Justin Bieber.) But if they were going for that just-rolled-out-of-bed look, they probably needed to do a little bit more than just roll out of bed. & if the ceremony really was an attempt at representing what we, the Twitter generation (are people calling us that?), are capable of or interested in producing, it made a pretty good argument for revisiting sincerity, if for no other reason than that the alternative is fucking boring.

Anyway, not all is lost. My favorite moment? James Franco’s stoner “Yeah, nerds!” I felt, in that moment, like he was actually trying to reach me. I was reached.

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