My take on the Oscars as display ritual for our national political drift. The monopoly of film might be sturdier than it seems. Is it expression, induction, or both? Does the Left have what it takes to make change, or are we wimps by definition?
I've been avoiding films, not quite knowing why but the Oscars confirmed my take and what was repelling me; oh, the corn! The melodrama! The political correctness! Even the bosoms, oozing out of every gown, seemed more consoling than provocative; and it reminded me of the weeks following 9/11; when the usual bustling corrosive crowd on Broadway, mindless of kicks and shoulder bumps as a rule; turned into a hug-a-stranger walk, when every accidental contact was followed by a concerned apology from some bruised core still resonating with the terror of that tragedy. Taking the brunt of the tide against injustice was poor old Mel the anti Semite, the only one of questionable sentiments brave enough to show his face this hallowed night. The jokes on him weren't funny. Nobody was very funny. It was emotional limbo. Furtive fingers were raised here and there. The only thing I really liked were the tiny white parachutes that fell like snow, loaded with eats. Everything else fell flat. A kind of political exhaustion has taken hold, a weariness and wariness all at once.
This crowd, so liberal it swam in its own gravy of forgiveness, appreciation, understanding mush I could hardly take it in. It needed hot sauce, but the fake feud between Kimmel and Justin Timberlake was apple sauce. When Sting and John Legend each croaked out a simpering, relevant ballad, I flipped to a nearby senseless crime drama for a break in the knee deep progressive goodness and glory. Neither was in particularly good voice and the tunes forgettable. And there was Meryl Streep again, getting all kinds of more greatness piled on her arguably broad shoulders, her recent performance at the SAG awards still ringing in our ears. Like Henry Fonda, I always attributed her skill as simply playing herself, and after a couple of films I lost interest in them both. I have to say, based on the trailers, I wasn't blown away by the acting in general. I think populism in film has bottomed out, never reached Brando's level anyway, and didn't have far to go in the first place.
It was getting old. I don't know who finally won among the tearful, heart wrenching melodramas spread before us, as I had no opinion, but as the parade of "goners" flashed by to a casual rendition of "Clouds" I began to ache for it all to be over; and oh God the Gratitude of everyone, the litanies of stranger's names we'll never know, as the music swam in to wash them off the stage!
But there was a uniform patina over the whole event; the unspoken but oft hinted-at pain that we, the sensitive artists of the world, were suffering in this time of foul winds and harrowing choices. And not a pair of balls in sight. Boobs yes, bulging all over the stage, as if machismo had taken the year off and tenderness were all. I wouldn't count on it. Because balls is all they've got, and if we're not going to kick them there-- an act clearly beneath us-- I suggest we acquire some of our own. Not stupid violent balls. Let's not "hang back with the beasts". Clever balls, the kind they don't know how to respond to. There's at least three million more of us, right? But if The Oscars is a sampling of our energy in these crucial times, we're a big, smug, useless bunch of wusses.
Born in Long Island public school year in Sweden as exchange student, went to Harvard one year, Cooper Union in NYC as Art student. Have two children, one of whom is rock mogul, the other has three daughters, one of whom has two daughters, making me a great grandmother at 68, very proud. For twenty years I operated a private primary school, Orchard School, in Santa Cruz CA. Still going strong but I'm retired and write much of the time. Strong believer in the space program and our subconscious quest as a species to prevent celestial onslaughts of one kind and another, for which it is my conviction that we have developed nuclear power, though we've had to use false wars to do so; in the end I believe we'll redeem ourselves in this way, which is why I find the abandonment of the shuttle program so sad. The Russians will do the honors with the next menace from Heaven, or have said that they will. In any case, nothing matters much if we don't, not the debt ceiling, pollution, nothing. All moot.