Monday, March 8, 2010

The Oscars: a year-end T-ball pizza party for adults

I watched all of it. The entire show. In fact, I watched the pre-red carpet show, the red carpet show, and then the Academy Awards, so really, any snarky judgments I make throughout this post should be prefaced by the fact that I watched all of it.

My family and I established an annual tradition, beginning three years ago, of eating meatloaf while watching the Oscars. Why meatloaf? Why not? With my daughters, the power of association can be so strong, that I'm just glad we weren't snacking on Spaghetti-O's the first time we watched as a group, or we'd be slurping those down every year.

That red carpet spectacle is such a bizarre study in human idol worship. The crowd is literally caged-in as the stars stroll by in all of their grandeur. The show's hosts marveled at the way George Clooney broke from tradition by interacting with the unwashed masses outside the red carpet zone, and he was hailed as a hero for actually stooping to mingle with the commoners. As his date walked along a few feet behind him, my nine-year-old pointed out, "That's his girlfriend. They've been together a really long time. Like over a year."

We watched as each starlet posed for the camera. Many looked hopelessly claustrophobic in their mega-tight dresses, like when you're camping and you wake up in a cold panic because your sleeping bag has twisted itself three-and-a-half times around your torso. They posed and strutted, posed and strutted, and finally approached the interviewer. Here's an example of a typical exchange:
"Kate, you look striking."
"Thank you very much."
"So, everyone wants to know...who are you wearing?"
At that point, I really wish Kate would have said, "Don't you mean what am I wearing? Well, in case you are unable to tell, this is a dress. From Target."

Don't get me wrong; Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock and Penelope Cruz weren't exactly hard on the eyes, but a few celebrated thespians looked less than stunning. My daughters were usually the first to point this out:

Zoe: "Look how yellow her teeth are."
Lauryn: "Look how yellow your teeth are."
Nothing like some good-natured barbs between my princesses.

Once the show began, it followed the usual format fairly closely. Each nominee for best male and female actor were lauded on stage individually by someone who had worked with or known them. For instance, Stanley Tucci spoke glowingly of Merrill Steep, since they'd worked on two films together. The person who showed up to hail the nominated star of "Precious," Gabouret Sidibe, was none other than Oprah Winfrey. Upon seeing her, I thought, "That's it. Gabby's got the Oscar sewn up if Oprah's in her corner." Oprah's so influential that if she included Lucky Strike Cigarettes on her list of favorite things, they would become America's number-one stocking stuffer. Gabouret didn't win, and I was surprised.

One other departure I noticed was the return of the phrase, "And the winner is..." as opposed to "And the Oscar goes to..." I suppose the members of the Academy had tired of treating the show like an end-of-season T-ball pizza party, where everyone's a winner and everyone gets an awesome trophy.

But as much as we criticize and make fun of this yearly fest of self-congratulation, who hasn't fantasized about the speech they'd deliver if they were up on that stage, clutching that golden eunuch that is Oscar:
"I'd like to thank the Academy, even though I have no idea who or what the Academy is. I'd also like to thank the folks at Photoshop for making my pores thirty percent smaller on those close-ups. And most of all, I'd like to thank Sally Field, because no matter what I say right now, it will always be considered more coherent than the speech she gave. Now where's my gift basket?"


  1. When I win I'm going to thank you. Then I'm going to say, "Why am I getting a statue of Georges St. Pierre?"

  2. Okay, Jame, I had to look that one up. That's Oscar, for sure.