When we were planning our live blog of the 2013 Academy Awards, I promised the editors at Women’s Voices for Change that I would submit a follow-up story.
Here’s what I’d like to be writing about: the great films that were honored, the fine performances by actors and actresses, the screenplays, costumes, sets, and sound. The parade of fashion, the “it” couples, the tearful speeches. Hollywood’s willingness to shine a cinematographer’s light on injustice, warfare, and mental illness.
Here’s what I have to write about instead: boobs, boobs, and, well, boobs.
To borrow from the texts of my teenage daughter and friends . . . WTF!
Entertainment people are a little crazy and we like them that way. But on Sunday night, it wasn’t just that the inmates were running the asylum. Pre-adolescent boys had taken over the world—or at least an international television event that’s second only to the Super Bowl in terms of viewership. But what did the folks at the Academy expect when they hired Seth MacFarlane, creator of such crude fare as Family Guy and Ted?
They may have wanted an edgier Oscars. They got: boobs.
Granted, there were moments that were not about boobs. Hmmm . . . there were the seemingly endless racist and anti-Semitic jokes. There were belittling comments about women and gays, mentions of Hollywood orgies and some stars’ preference for much younger dates. The pièce de répugnant résistance? A charming shout-out to the entertainment industry’s poster children for domestic violence. Describing Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar contender Django Unchained, MacFarlane quipped:
“This is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.”
The camera then panned to the happy couple, looking radiantly happy and, for now at least, bruise-free.
I’ve already alluded to the infamous “We Saw Your Boobs” song. If you take a closer look at the movies he mentions, many feature violent scenes of rape. Getting naked in Boys Don’t Cry, Accused, and Monster was a far cry from women in The Girls Next Door gleefully baring their bodacious tatas. Here are some of MacFarlane’s other brilliant lyrics:
We saw your boobs, we saw your boobs.
In the movie that we saw, we saw your boobs . . .
Meryl Streep, we saw your boobs in Silkwood.
Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive.
Angelina Jolie, we saw your boobs in Gia, they made us feel excited and alive.
Anne Hathaway, we saw your boobs in Brokeback Mountain.
Halle Berry, we saw them in Monster’s Ball.
Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut.
Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler, but we haven’t seen Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs at all.
The actresses named were, of course, sitting in the audience along with their male peers. The word disrespectful doesn’t begin to cover it. And it wasn’t even an intelligent stab at humor; the number was just plain stupid. In other words, it was pretty much par for the course.
Despite the overdose of puerile humor—and, believe me, with the Oscars running 3 hours and 35 minutes, some cuts would have been welcome—there were moments that shone through. Not one but two legendary divas performed: Shirley Bassey brought down the house as she belted “Goldfinger,” celebrating 50 years of 007 films, and Barbra Streisand performed an intimate, moving rendition of “The Way We Were” to honor her friend and collaborator, the late Marvin Hamlisch. A younger generation of singers, including Adele and Jennifer Hudson, demonstrated that the torch is by no means out.
There were some thoughtful acceptance speeches and some clever presenter bits. And the entire theater rose in support of Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence after she tripped on her way up to the stage. “You’re only standing because I fell,” she teased before graciously accepting her award. Her class and humor and human-ness were sorely missing at other times.
Even the red carpet offered some food for thought. Jane Fonda (who must still be living by her “Make it Burn” motto—oy, does she look good!), Meryl Streep, and other actresses of a certain age shone brightly. Helen Hunt’s gorgeous blue gown was from H & M, proving that style can be achieved on any budget (granted, she did accessorize the budget dress with three-quarters of a million dollars in diamonds).
Nevertheless, this year’s Oscars left a bad taste in my mouth. And I wasn’t alone. The real-time social media was brutal and mostly negative. As Captain Kirk warned us from the future in a started-funny-but-went-on-way-too-long conceit at the beginning of the show, Seth MacFarlane was the “Worst Oscars Host Ever.” And that’s saying something.
He has already announced that he won’t host again if invited. I say, good riddance.
In recent days, I’ve been accused of soap-boxing, of being humorless along the lines of: “Your political correctness is sucking all the fun out of entertainment.” Would I really rather watch a classy evening of Hollywood honoring its own—without the off-color jokes and nasty jibes?
Uh . . . yes. Yes, I would.