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Tuesday, 01 March
Golden Showers

Now that everyone else on earth has written their minds about the Oscars, I figure I'll do my usual and come in a day late with mine. It's kind of a challenge, especially when so many of my lousy jokes were stolen right out from under me; but in a way, it's not really a challenge, because the Oscars and its attendees are such incredibly rich targets.

As usual, the wife and I went to a party where for the most part, the real sport is shouting awful imprecations and insults at the screen and drinking booze, both of which help to alleviate the almost sinister fog of boredom that the entire spectacle so reliably exudes. (Our contribution to the numbing agents were, following the theme, The Passionfruit of the Christ cocktails, which were delicious and, predictably, lethal.)

We waited for a while, enduring but not paying much attention to the insulting Gauntlet Of Fashion that the celebs had to run before getting inside: someday an actress is going to make me very happy by showing up in overalls and gushing about the incredible job Osh Kosh B'Gosh did on her outfit. This heroic person (let's say . . . Bjork!) could bring someone reliably insane like Billy Bob Thornton as her date, who in the spirit of things would probably show up with his dick in a sock.

Eventually Chris Rock hit the stage and wasted no time savaging various people (the most punished of which were conspicuously not there), much to our glee: nobody in the world appreciates the cornholing of people like Nicole Kidman or Colin Farrell so much as a roomful of actors who know in their souls that they would just kill to be those very victims. Of the actors who did happen to be present when they got shanked, most displayed a good sense of humor about it, except for Halle Berry, who's probably going to need that TMJ looked at after gritting her way onstage after the "Catwoman 2" crack. (Maybe I'm wrong, since she showed up to accept her Razzie award, but she sure looked pissed.)

Much ballyhooed were the format changes, ostensibly to speed things up, but were really just creative exercises in pure cruelty. Some of the luckless "technical award" nominees had to stand on masse on the stage during the announcement, looking like expensively tailored nervous cattle--I would have enjoyed seeing some snarling border collies in tiny little dog tuxes keeping them in check. Then, after the winners were announced, the sad livestock all had to troop offstage in a group, herded down some Temple Grandin-designed animal chute before being collected into the loser-cage where they could low mournfully while awaiting a boltgun to the head. Hollywood hates losers, and once you have the stink on you, forget it. Look at Marty Scorcese.

The other innovation was the nominees who didn't even get to move from their seats while the presenters stood in the audience nervously, giving the affair a real "talk to the audience" feel. ("Oh God! This is always death!") Cate Blanchett seemed genuinely fazed by the weirdness of the scene, but maybe it was her luminous yellow dress floating amidst the red carpeting and the black tuxes: she looked like some otherworldly lemon that had accidentally materialized onto someone's backgammon board. Or there was Scarlett Johanssen--who continue to proudly display her love for older men by arriving wheeling in Nick Nolte in his iron lung--weirdly appearing in one of the upper boxes to present some meaningless awards. Flanked by the nominees, I could only imagine several descendants of John Wilkes Booth emerging from the shadows to fulfill their genetic heritage by shooting them all in the head. Sic semper celebritas!

The musical numbers, always a horror, reached a kind of apex of shame this year, with the ubiquitous Beyonce performing three of the numbers (presumably undergoing extensive sandblasting between each number). The Oscar voters have a mesmerisingly reliable tin ear in picking these things, and even when some fluke sneaks through ("Blame Canada," "Miss Misery"), it gets murdered by something awful from Disney or Phil Collins or both. Probably next year it'll be Vin Diesel singing a ballad with string arrangements by that guy who used to be in Ratt. The two songs not sung through the eyeballs of Beyonce were handled by, unbelievably, Counting Crows (many Sideshow Bob jokes have been made, but my favorite comment from the party was "Is that Kid? Or Play?") and, even more unbelievably, by Antonio Banderas with Carlos Santana nearby, making his usual guitar-porn faces.

I'd like to say more about all of this dreadfulness, but in honesty, every time a song came on, I'd last about thirty seconds before deciding that I'd rather have a cigarette. I was usually joined by my friends K. and D. and E., who couldn't handle it either, and so we diverted ourselves by gathering up handfuls of ice cubes from the beer cooler and throwing them at our friend V.'s car, which was parked across the street. I recognize that this basically means that we are chimpanzees that can somehow afford clothing.

I'm not even going to bother to say much about the winners and losers, because in many ways, it was the most boring part of the show. There weren't any surprises at all, except for maybe Annette Bening managing not to attack Hilary Swank with a steak knife (I feel a deep ick for Ms. Swank, and won some enemies when, during her interminable acceptance speech, I shouted, "Shut up! Go chop some firewood with your face!"). Swank is apparently Bening's kryptonite . . . or, perhaps, her Bizarro. "Bening do American Beauty! Bening waste time on overrated movie that not like women! I do Boys Don't Cry! Swank is moist-eyed and dead and beloved. Bening do Being Julia! Nobody see film. Swank do Million Dollar Baby! Everybody see Swank! Everybody forget about The Core."

In the end, everyone just kind of stared fatelessly as the Raspy Bloat rumbled up the stage steps to collect the Big Guy--the truth was, by this point, we didn't care: most of us didn't give a solitary fuck about any of the films up for anointment. There was the Eternal Sunshine faction (including me), the Sideways faction, the Incredibles faction, and even the Shaun of the Dead faction (which I can kind of mentally get behind, but let's be serious here), all of which as usual felt a kind of glum betrayal at the typically plodding, hidebound Oscar CW. But "betrayal" doesn't even work, not when the Academy has been so consistently laughable for decades, if not since its inception. It's like getting mad at Shriners for wearing dumb hats. Anyone who wants to is free to champion the Independent Spirit awards, or the SAG awards, or the Drama Desk awards, or whatever. But for better or worse--and let's not be silly, it's for worse--it will be the Oscars that are always going to matter.

You can get mad. I do, sometimes. You can boycott. I could claim to do this, but really, I just don't like going to movie theaters any more. You can rail against the big, empty spectacle, the pampered stars, the idiotic media frenzy, sure, but you might as well also abandon the Super Bowl and political conventions and, well, maybe society. They're all valid responses, I guess.

Or there's always passionfruit cocktails. I think I'll make some next year too. I'm going to need one for the Vin Diesel song.


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Comments

I couldn't figure out if Dustin Hoffman drunk or just really pissed off.

Comment number: 005533   Posted by: Mickey on March 1, 2005 05:00 AM from IP: 70.146.153.98

Are you going to share the recipe for the Passionfruit of the Christ?

Comment number: 005534   Posted by: Nick on March 1, 2005 06:03 AM from IP: 160.94.251.195

If Vin Diesel sings at next year's Oscar show, I am holding you personally responsible. How about exercising a little caution about which ideas you just spew out into the universe, huh?

Comment number: 005535   Posted by: Jado on March 1, 2005 07:21 AM from IP: 208.247.148.13

Yeah that Dustin Hoffman affair was quite painful to watch.. And did she call him Bernie? How gay is that?

She's a horrid bitch too, I don't blame him for looking like he just sucked some sour dick.

And sorry if that offends any hardcore Streisand fans out there, but you're wrong for liking her anyway so it doesn't much matter.

Comment number: 005536   Posted by: Melissa on March 1, 2005 08:58 AM from IP: 24.28.2.219

(BLAME Canada)

Comment number: 005537   Posted by: dayment on March 1, 2005 10:00 AM from IP: 64.105.86.146

Save Canada? What the hell was that? It doesn't even make any sense.

Also, here's the Passionfruit of the Christ recipe, more or less . . . I threw it together in five minutes.

About 1 1/2 liters passionfruit juice
About 1/2 bottle of vodka
Liberal shakes of orange bitters
Throw some frozen raspberries in there
You're done.

Comment number: 005538   Posted by: Skot on March 1, 2005 10:09 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

al pacino looked far drunker than dustin hoffman. the man was swaying.

Comment number: 005539   Posted by: kirsten on March 1, 2005 02:14 PM from IP: 148.85.230.188

What? Nothing about Kate? The lovely Kate?

Comment number: 005540   Posted by: girlhacker on March 2, 2005 06:07 PM from IP: 24.18.207.93

I couldn't believe Annette Bening had to go up against Swank again. I knew there wasn't a chance in hell A.B. would win, but I was holding out hope that people wouldn't just roll over and give it to Swank (the part had all the ingredients they love: physical training, a hillbilly accent, and ending up in a hospital bed.) When she won the first time, I thought, well, fine. But when she did "The Gift" and was so terrible, I thought somebody ought to drive over there and repossess that Oscar.

I also can't believe I care anymore. Sheez.

Comment number: 005541   Posted by: Rob on March 2, 2005 09:23 PM from IP: 68.237.221.205

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