March 06, 2006

78th Oscars A Yawner

Okay, true to my word I didn't watch any of the Academy Awards show. It wasn't hard. I was off in the other room paying bills before collapsing in bed from a busy weekend with the family. We did tape it, and the Mrs. (who is interested) will have the luxury of being able to fast-forward past the tedious parts. She'll probably be able to zip through the whole thing in about half an hour.

I have read several reviews of the broadcast - some live-blogged reports and others written the morning after. It seems like poor Jon Stewart is going to be the scapegoat on this one. Most reports say he was awful. But then again, when a live audience is as lame as the one he had to work with anyone would seem awful.

Face it, Jon Stewart is at his best when he's cutting Hollywood hot shots like these to ribbons. For the members of the Academy and the entertainment elite, the Oscars are a very solemn and serious event. Unless you're making jokes about George Bush, how successful are you going to be making light of the whole affair?

Andy Dehnart on MSNBC.com this morning agrees:

Two CGI characters, Chicken Little and Abby Mallard, presented an award, and Ben Stiller dressed in an all-green unitard to introduce the special effects Oscar. Later, Will Farrell and Steve Carrell introduced the makeup award while wearing awful makeup, Carell looking like a drag queen without his wig or gown, and Farrell appearing as if his face had been dragged along the red carpet.

Those moments evoked smiles and giggles. But that humor is safe, easy, and non-confrontational. It does not require the stars to laugh at themselves or their hypocrisy.

Exposing hypocrisy while being self-depreciating is what Stewart does best; in fact, it's basically all he does. Those who believe "The Daily Show" is actually "fake news" don't understand either satire or the exceptionally smart, informative humor that the show invokes on a daily basis. Stewart and "The Daily Show's" team emphasize and demonstrate the importance and gravity of the day's news by making fun of it.

But that sort of contradictory, somewhat nuanced humor didn't work well for the Oscars' audience. The theater audience's lack of laughter was judgmental and was odds with viewers who were laughing because this was the funny Jon Stewart we know from cable.

As I've already stated, I didn't watch it. But I suspect that one of the biggest reasons Stewart's performance fell flat was because the audience in the Kodak Theater was full of people who take themselves way too seriously in proportion to what it is they do. Honestly, they're entertainers. The make movies. They do their thing and we laugh, we cry and kiss nine bucks goodbye. Then we move on. Sadly, since 9/11 the absurdity of Hollywood's self-absorption has only become more magnified. It's because those of us who make up the unwashed masses were reminded about what's really important in life. And in the grand scheme of things, missing out on seeing a "ground-breaking" or "risk-taking" film just isn't all that big a deal.

Posted by: Gary at 09:30 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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