Okay, we've all had our morning coffee and our cinnamon bagels, and the hangovers are wearing off. What did everybody think of this year's Oscars?
I've been a fan of the Oscars for many, many years; it really is an event where the whole family sits down in front of the television set together. So I suppose there's a degree of brand loyalty on my part. That said, I've become increasingly bored over the past several years. Either the show's producers are far too cautious and timid, and they've squeezed out all the spontanaeity and life, or I've figured out the "formula" by which the Motion Picture Academy hands out awards, or perhaps I've just outgrown it all. Whatever the reasons, I'm getting very bored.
Was it just me, or were the jokes just falling flat? Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin seemed like they could make a good team, and I like the idea of having a duo trade barbs and wisecracks. In practice, however, it really didn't happen. Either the writers weren't inspired this year, or Martin & Baldwin needed to work on their timing, I don't know. I don't think they were on stage nearly enough. Just what is the purpose of the Oscars MC? They deliver an opening monologue and then disappear while other celebrities do all the heavy lifting. Very strange.
The Academy's producers seem terrified that any unscripted events will happen, like Roberto Begnini standing on chairs, or Michael Moore denouncing the Iraq War, or that streaker who ran past David Niven. But that's why I'm watching the Oscars! I want to see something crazy and unexpected happen. I want Jack Palance doing one-armed pushups! I want Adrian Brody making out with Hally Berry. I want Jack Nicholson drunk off his ass and making a fool of himself.
I want something, anything, that demonstrates these Beautiful People in show business are real human beings, and not animated robots. I don't want an efficient machine. Life is neither efficient nor a machine. I want the excitement and passion of the movies. I want the melodrama and the thrills and the spills. I want Groucho Marx hitting on Margaret Dumont. I want Nora Desmond begging for her closeup. I am not interested in yet another boring acceptance speech that thanks family members and then shuffles off, in time for the next stupid commercial.
Maybe it's because I never watch television anymore. If it weren't for the Nintendo and the DVD player, I wouldn't even own one. My fab stereo system is the center of my living room. Just listen to Miles Davis on the Sony turntable! Listen to Beethoven! It's amazing! Why would you waste your precious lives on Jay Leno and reality shows when you could be immersed in great music?
So perhaps Marshall MacLuhan and Terence McKenna are right, and the media we consume skewer our sensory ratios. Perhaps my brain has become wired against the passive drugged-out experience of television. Even when there's something worth watching - Ken Burns' latest documentary, the Winter Olympics, Conan O'Brien's final Tonight Show - it feels like a compromise. I'd rather see it in person, or hear it on the radio. The idiot box just makes me cranky now. It feels designed to make you stupid and numb. It feels like an idiot narcotic to me.
So I sit down and watch the Oscars, and pass along my cranky grandpa rants to Marcee, who keeps me sane, and I pass along notes on Twitter for the sake of my readers. It was okay. It was sadly predictable, boring, lifeless, and always slightly off the mark. Will I remember any of this in a week's time? Will we remember anything next month? Part of me fears that I'm losing interest in the movies. I hope that is not the case. There's so much strang and drum to muscle through, but there's always a surprise, a hidden gem, a truly great movie, if you are but willing to look. When we lose curiosity, our spirit of exploration, that is when we truly grow old and die. That is when the idiot narcotics win.