Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More about the Oscars ...

LORD what a Curmudgeon: I mean, let's face it, there really isn't much of a reason to watch the Oscars except to make fun of the gowns (or revel in them: Cher as the Christmas Tree topper springs to mind), but he spits on the entire concept of giving awards. ANY awards. For ANYthing.

Most of the time when you win an award, it is not merit or talent that gains the day. It is pure luck, absolute accident. Consider the literary award, which I know well: I have won a few and served on a handful of literary juries. You win because the jury couldn’t agree on anything else or people weren’t sure what they were voting on, or, fortunately, no one read your work while the others got read or the best part of yours got read and not the best parts of the others, or a friend bullied it through, or yours came up when it was the year to give it to a minority or yours came up in the year that giving something to a small, independent publisher was the ticket, or you’re pretty old and never won, or you’re so young that winning makes you seem like a wunderkind and the jury seems prescient.
Okay, I enjoy a hefty dose of cynicism along as much as the next guy. Probably more... No, definitely more. But still: "None of it makes any sense or serves much any purpose. " Well, duhhh. You can say that about a lot of things that are still FUN.

You don't have to respect the Oscars -- though they have gone some way to restore my faith since the low point of Titanic and Braveheart -- but you can still enjoy them. And in a world where things that don't "make any sense" dominate the newspaper headlines every day, it's refreshing that something nonsensical could actually be so harmless.

Far more interesting and thoughtful is this Boston Globe article: Hollywood isn't being straight with gay community:

Some movies are born political, and others have politics thrust upon them. Poor ''Brokeback Mountain" was such a movie. Ang Lee's adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story was not out to attack us with a statement. It really is just an unhappy love story that happens to have enormous social relevance because its protagonists are two men. Yet the movie's biggest supporters may have turned an otherwise innocent film into a cause that got on voters' nerves. The dialogue became quotable, and the poster was mocked, lessening the emotional seriousness and making for a once-in-a-lifetime pop-culture phenomenon . . . Despite the interlocking story lines, ''Crash" is in its way a conventional social-problem drama that also appealed to voters' sense of laziness. ...

The movie is set in their backyard. And the depiction of nonstop racial strife might have tapped into some voters' guilt about their own wealth and their own prejudices. ...

There are lots of African-American stars and producers. Black is pretty normal in the movies.

Homosexuality? Not so much. ...

In the very same way that straight Stewart happily woke up in bed with straight Clooney during one of Sunday night's skits, it was more insidiously coy illusion. Smirking and winking pussyfoots around the issue. Waking up beside Harvey Fierstein and loving it -- that's pushing the envelope.

Maybe, maybe not. I haven't seen Crash yet, though I have a sneaky suspicion that the movie isn't quite as groundbreaking, and is, as this Globe staffer writes, "conventional". I have seen Brokeback, and it made me weep buckets, not because it was politically relevant, but because it was a beautifully-written, beautifully-acted piece of human drama. And let's face it. Manipulative as hell. That guitar at the end. Just in case you didn't already feel the pathos, guys ... But I do like to be manipulated :-).

Still. I'm glad if we're moving away from the days of a single movie "sweeping" all the Oscars. It was tiresome, and could lead to truly gruesome results.