A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oscar Night: Celebrating Our Shallow Culture Since 1927

Thank God the Oscars happened at the beginning of the week. Otherwise, the Internet would having nothing more to talk about this week than oncoming sequester and all of its economic doomsday scenarios. Fortunately, we the American people are so bored with the topic. Even George Will thinks so, and if George Will thinks so, then it must be true.

New Oscar host Seth McFarlane did not disappoint his critics, the same critics who began demonizing his performance weeks before he even set foot on the stage. But before we get to his controversial performance, which many agree was ugly, let’s celebrate the good things that happened this year.

Oscar did not show favorites this year; several multi-nominated films garnered only one or two statuettes, as opposed to a clean sweep. This gave the evening several of its many surprises during the show. Another high: Shirley Bassey’s triumphant full length version of Goldfinger capped off an otherwise lackluster musical tribute to the James Bond franchise. I could recognize the James Bond Theme and Live and Let Die in the medley, yet such beautiful tunes as You Only Live Twice, We Have All the Time in the World (from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Nobody Does It Better (from The Spy Who Loved Me) were notably absent. Another highlight: Barbra Streisand’s moving tribute to Marvin Hamlisch. First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcing the Best Picture Award.


The last surprise of the evening: First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcing the Best Picture Award. No doubt AM radio talk show hatemeisters harped on this latest evidence of collusion between “liberal” Hollywood and the Obama Administration on the morning after, but what else would they talk about? The sequester? Oh, right, we’re bored with that. So much for the high; let’s move onto the ugly.

McFarlane was not the first choice to host the Oscars this year. As creator and producer of television's irreverent animated show Family Guy, he is not considered an ideal host for such honorary duties. I believe he decided to play up to these expectations with his one-liners and a nearly half-hour opening that involved Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk coaching him to improve his performance from a future time.

The captain showed that McFarlane would prove his critics correct with a performance of a song called “We Saw Your Boobs”, with its lyrics mentioning the more memorable nude breast shots made by Hollywood’s best and brightest actresses in the last ten years or so. The performance was disingenuous: McFarlane had to have known that his audience would expect something this irreverent from him. Its performance within a framing device of Captain Kirk waving a fatherly, “No, no” finger at him was meant (I can only assume) to make it more palatable for the masses. In the end, it didn’t work:  the song has been condemned for its sexist nature by just about everyone who can tap out their opinions on a computer keyboard.

The “Boobs” song was interspersed with footage of the actresses named in the song reacting to the lyrics from their seats. The reactions ranged from a mixture of boredom and disgust (Charlize Theron) to jaw-dropped amazement (Naomi Watts). I believe the reactions were pre-recorded. Within a moment of the song’s end, McFarlane called on Theron and Channing Tatum to dance onstage while he sang a song to redeem himself in front of millions of viewers. In her seat, Theron was wearing a dress with a black strap; onstage she was in a long flowing white number with moves that momentarily challenged Ginger Rogers' legacy. Hardly a performance from an actress who only a moment before had daggers shooting from her eyes; unless, of course, both were performances.

Many in the theater audience did laugh at the song, but many more watching at home did not. I was more bemused than amused, partly because I did not get all the references McFarlane made, partly because I was shocked that he had the cojones to perform the song on prime time television (as opposed to later at night on a cable outlet), but mainly because my mouth was full of kettle cooked (reduced fat) potato chips and onion dip. Believe me, if the song had activated my gag reflex and prompted me to do a spit take, the resulting design on our tiled basement floor would have been a colorful mélange of gray, yellow, and brown.

There, I’ve now out-grossed anything Seth McFarlane did at the Oscars.

The song may have been inappropriate for the hour, addressed certain hypocrisies about our society, struck many as just not funny and in questionable taste, but it was probably preferable to McFarlane standing on stage and shouting to the entire world: “Welcome to the annual celebration of our shallow culture.” You may not want to believe our culture is this bad, but think about this: how many blogs, newspaper articles, television, and radio news stories the next day devoted time and space to Anne Hathaway’s nipples peaking (or peeking) through her dress as she sashayed down the red carpet…and compare it to the number of stories analyzing Daniel Day-Lewis’ acceptance speech.

Enough said!

(Thank you for reading! Acceptance speech? What acceptance speech?)


Post a Comment

<< Home