What did I think of last week’s 80th annual Academy Awards telecast? Well, in the words of Best Supporting Actor winner Javier Bardem during his on-stage acceptance speech: Mama, esto para ti, esto para tus abuelos, para tus padres y la familia Matilde, esto es para los comicos de Espana, que han traido como tu las dignidad y el orgullo a nuestro officio. Esto es para Espana y esto es para todos nosotros.
Did the guy nail it, or what? Took the words right out of my mouth. Now, don’t get me wrong—I don’t speak Spanish—but for me, that pretty much says it all. I’m not saying that this year’s Oscars had a decidedly, uh, multicultural feel, as opposed to previous broadcasts, but don’t be surprised next year when one of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees will be in English.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s host Jon Stewart, after yet another foreign-born winner thanked puzzled American viewers in broken English for his Oscar: “It’s truly an international night tonight, and that’s great.” More? OK, during the post-show interviews, Best Supporting Actress winner Tilda Swinton, who would have looked right at home working in a health food store, gushed, “I’m just sad I couldn’t give my acceptance speech in Gaelic!” In case anyone missed her point, the Scottish actress added, “Hollywood is built on Europeans! Go back and look!”
But there was so much more to this year’s Oscars, or, as more and more people are calling it, “the gay Super Bowl.” Why the gay Super Bowl? Because to a lot of gay men the Oscars are the single most exciting television event of the year, much as the Super Bowl is to football fans. Both events feature elaborate “pre-” and “after” parties, colorful pageantry, costumes, rituals, winners and losers, gossip and music.
But enough about the gay stuff—let’s talk John Travolta, who literally waltzed on stage looking like the love child of Sam Donaldson and TV’s Mr. Spock. After presenting his Oscar, Travolta appeared in a brief skit about his Boeing 707’s being parked outside the theater. “It’s OK, it’s a hybrid,” quipped host Jon Stewart, who also joked that this was a “green” Oscars because presenters were obliged to make their way across the stage on foot. Could such levity be a signal that the global warmists’ cult has overstayed its welcome in Hollywood and that the creative community has moved on to a trendier cause, such as, maybe, tainted beef, Darfur or muffin top? Let’s hope so.
Naturally the evening was not without its controversies. For the 80th consecutive year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences committed a hate crime against women by presenting an Oscar for “Best Performance by an Actress,” when everyone knows you’re supposed to refer to females who act only by the gender-neutral term “Actor.” All the pregnant stars at this year’s Oscars—Kate Blanchett, Jessica Alba, Nicole Kiddman, arguably Bruce Villanche—were a subtle reminder to viewers of this year’s spate of films (Juno, Waitress, Bella) about unexpected pregnancies. It’s interesting to note that while the “edgy” choice for a filmmaker used to be to have a female character undergo an abortion, now it’s the brave, daring choice to have the female character carry the baby to term. Um, bravo?
‘I Hate America’ Category
Which brings us to the “I Hate America” category of films, also known as Documentaries. The Short Subjects, by tradition, are low-budget videos no one cares about because no one (save the person who edited them) has seen these small-but-important offerings. So naturally, the task of presenting the Oscar to this “winner” fell to a group of American G.I.s in Baghdad via satellite. Like many of you, this creative choice left me wondering, haven’t these soldiers suffered enough?
After the soldiers were whisked away, Tom Hanks presented the nominees for Best Documentary Feature. These included a movie about why the Iraq War was a mistake, a movie about how our soldiers are suffering in Iraq, a movie about how bad our healthcare system is, a movie about how Americans torture innocent Iraqis, and a movie about a group of Ugandan children in a dance competition? Hey, what gives with that last one? How does a movie about Ugandan children dancing reflect badly on the United States? You know I love you, Academy, but I really think you dropped the ball with this last one.
All in all, it was a pretty good Oscars this year. In fact, after last night I can honestly say that for the first time in my adult life I am proud to be a member of the Hollywood community—and not just because a truly awful movie like There Will Be Blood got almost no Oscars. In the final analysis, the Academy Awards are the one night of the year when Hollywood is free to do what it does best: Bash Republicans. So if the anti-Bush, anti-war sentiments, gay sensibilities and increasingly foreign-born, non-English-speaking tone of this year’s Oscars rubbed you the wrong way, think of the bright side: At least they’re still being held in Hollywood—a town that, in a technical sense at least, is still a part of the United States of America.