Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sh!#ting on the Classics: Oscar, Shmoskar, Part Deux

Hey, F’Heads! It is Valentine’s Day! Do not forget to give your significant other some flowers, or a fancy dinner, or chocolates, or a handmade coupon for a free backrub, or a willingness to try that thing (not THAT thing, the other thing) that your hubby has been pestering you about for the better part of 156 months.

My Valentine this year is the Oscars! I am giving the Oscars a homemade pie made out of poo. Allow me to explain.


Last week’s beshitting got a terrific response, so in the spirit of the Hollywood we all love… to HATE… here is the SEQUEL to last week’s column.

What follows is a random list of other reasons to hate the Oscars, with a hot, hot, molten hate that will not subside and will not abate.

1. After last week’s column was posted, I continued to research the idea that the Academy’s favorite theme is “the troubles of rich white people.” By my count, at least 53 of the total 83 Best Picture Winners (and trust me, this is a very loose and liberal accounting) concern the problems of rich white people. Of course in 2001, seventy-two years after its founding, the Academy finally gave Best Actress to a black woman (Halle Barry for Monster’s Ball), so I suppose I should just be satisfied with their overall fairness and magnanimousness and shut my goddamn mouth. Bottom line—when in doubt while filling out the ballot for the annual office Oscar pool, go with the perennially popular favorite: PUT-UPON RICH WHITIES. That means that The Descendants will win this year, by the way.

Never bet against black—except at the Oscars!

2. I have no patience for the “make good” Oscar. This is the Oscar that comes a year or two late, often given to an entirely different film or actor, to make up for some egregious mistake by the Academy. My favorite of these just might be the Oscar given to the song “Last Dance” from Thank God, It’s Friday to make up for the previous year’s complete and utter snub of the Saturday Night Fucking Fever score. SNFF spawned a cultural movement. No other film is more dependent on its score for its massive impact on the zeitgeist of its time. Hey Academy: you would not want to risk nominating something like THAT, would you? Clearly it is just a fad! And by “it” I mean “the ’70s”. And by “fad” I mean “single most defining cultural movement of the decade.”

3. Speaking of music, just look at the Hit Parade of Oscar winners for best song: “Sweet Leilani” from Waikiki Wedding (which beat George and Ira Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” from Shall We Dance), “It Might As Well Be Spring,” “Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah,” “Buttons and Bows,” “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” “Talk to the Animals,” “The Morning After,” “We May Never Love Like This Again (Love Theme from The Towering Inferno)”, “You Light Up My Life,” and “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” (Thanks for that last one, faithful reader/contest winner Sol.) Timeless music that explores the human spirit, or instantly forgettable tripe? YOU be the judge and jury-- because clearly Academy members abdicated that responsibility decades ago.

4. The Academy continues to play with the nominating rules for documentaries; the Academy continues to get this category wrong. The Thin Blue Line (a film that literally saved a man’s life), Hoop Dreams, Grey Gardens, and Grizzly Man all deserved to win. Only The Thin Blue Line was even nominated. And do not even get me started about this year’s The Interrupters.

5. Here are my nominations for the worst films to ever win Best Picture: The Broadway Melody (1928/1929), Cavalcade (1932/1933), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), The English Patient (1996), and Gladiator (2000). In the words of Groucho Marx, I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.

6. Inception/The King’s Speech—need I say more? According to the Academy, we should just be glad Inception was nominated. It IS an honor just to be nominated, you know, and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blather blah blah.

7. Let me conclude with the sad, sad story of a naive 14 year-old boy. He snuck into a screening of Network in 1976 and thought it was one of the most amazing films he had ever seen. This poor boy had been raised on a diet of sunny Disney films and other pabulum, so the red-hot, searing script by firebrand Paddy Chayefsky spun his little head around. The boy had never seen a film so cynical—until that time he had never seen a film so bitterly funny. Needless to say, that boy was… wait for it… ME. I watched the Oscars in frenzied anticipation that year, rooting for Network to win Best Picture.

When Rocky won, I was crestfallen. Even at fourteen, I could recognize that Rocky was populist, feel-good claptrap (though I will now admit that it is well-made, well-intentioned, populist, feel-good claptrap) and I could not believe that Network lost. Thirty-six years later I am still angry that Network lost, although in the spirit of trying to see the silver lining in even the most miserable of situations, I have arrived at the following conclusion: Watching Network at a very young age contributed to my growing cynicism. Seeing a clearly superior film lose to a clearly inferior film also contributed to my growing cynicism. So, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I am now a miserable, hard-hearted, cynical bastard because of YOU!

8. Happy Valentine’s Day, Oscar. Sometimes, you make it very hard to love you. Sniff.

BETTER YET: Oscahs! Live Twittah feed, dahlings? Sunday night, February 26th. Join us, bitches. It is going to be a party. #ftheoscars

13 comments:

  1. Hey, I like 'The Morning After' (from "Poseidon Adventure"); it's a catchy tune. But you're right, 'Best Song' Oscars always go to a collective body's weird sense of what's good. When "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" was nominated for Best Song I was shocked that 'Blame Canada' was the tune they picked for nomination. It's a good song but there are ten better songs in that soundtrack ('La Resistance,' 'Mountain Town,' 'It's Easy, Mmmkay?,' 'Uncle Fucka,' etc.) that are clearly catchier and better than 'Blame Canada.' But it's obvious the Academy chose 'Blame Canada' because it's the 'cleanest' and more curse-free of the songs in the soundtrack (which, to their credit, they wanted to token-recognize because it's an awesome musical). 'Blame Canada' wasn't going to win anyway (everybody knew it) so Trey Stone & Matt Parker made mince out of the event by showing up in drag at the Oscar ceremony knowing (a) they'd never get up on stage and (b) the cameras would never cut to them for a reaction shot. :-)

    I showed "Network" to my father a couple of years ago during my vacation at his place. His wife fell asleep but he (a 60-something fella who doesn't really get into movies) was blown away. He actually applauded (in his living room!) when Howard Beale says 'we'll tell you any shit you want to hear' and later mentioned how much Fox News stole from this movie. :-P "Network" makes a great double-bill with Brooks' "Broadcast News" (both my dad and his wife liked it) since they're both about the same thing (lowering/death of news standards) but achieve them through entirely different genres/storytelling techniques (satire vs. romantic comedy, caricatured characters vs. relatable one's, etc.). What would be the equivalents of "Network" and "Broadcast News" for the 90's and the 2000's?

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    1. Slight correction: Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn't goof on the Oscars (e.g., dressing in drag, tripping on acid) because they knew they weren't going to win and/or appear onstage, they goofed on the Oscars because FUCK the Oscars. They've said as much themselves.

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    2. The closest I think Hollywood has come lately would be either Wag the Dog or The Truman Show, both deeply cynical films that I admire a great deal.

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  2. Well said. These days, all we get is stuff like MORNING GLORY, which says that it's OKAAAAAAAAY to lower your standards and just focus on fluff because you're making people HAAAAAAPPPYYYY.

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  3. Haters be hatin', and that's fine. BUT can I still use the Oscars as an excuse to sculpt a statuette out of delicious, delicious cheese?

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  4. One part of the Oscar arguement that I feel is overlooked is how much cooler it is to lose an Oscar than to win one. If you're a loser, people rally behind you (said person or movie) because of the injustice. If you win, you are usually not talked about that much anymore following the Oscars at which you won.

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    1. I dub this the Jim Carrey Conundrum.

      Nice job, JB.

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  5. Another fine dump on the Oscars, JB - I have not much to add other than it struck me funny (and I'm not sure if it was even intentional or not) that after you refer to Saturday Night Fucking Fever, you go on to abbreviate the film SNFF. It will forever be SNFF to me now!

    P.S. Just happened to have bought Network on eBay last week so after your and J.M.'s comments I'm looking forward to that even more now.

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  6. Yes, Network is amazing for nine different reasons... and Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight both get nominated for an Oscar for performances that total ten minutes of screen time apiece! That's acting! Straight WON.

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  7. Network is in my top five favorite movies. Louise Schumacher appeared in Network for only five minutes and 40 seconds. If you've seen Network you'd understand why she won an Academy Award. The Winter Romance scene alone is one of the greatest acting scenes you'll ever see in a movie. Howard Beele's famous monologue is still relevant to this day. Just replace steel belted radials and the Russians with iPods/iPads and Terrorists. In fact can we stop talking about the Oscars and just talk about Network?

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  8. I have absolutely nothing to add, other than to say thanks for the column and that I wish I had access to this website while I was at work when the shit really be goin' down. By the time I get here, there's just some spent shells, a couple of fingers, and a lot of smoke and blood.

    In the last week I've been thinking more and more about the Oscars as they get closer, and I've decided I just don't care anymore. They're predictable, saccharine, and bordering on irrelevant, if not already so. Not only am I not going to watch them this year, I've decided that I'm actually going to take a baseball bat to all the DirecTV dishes in my neighborhood so that no one else can watch them either. If I get caught, I'll blame Fight Club.

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  9. Do you remember that scene in Network when that guy was really mad and he kept like saying "Hell" alot? That was awesome.

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