Mediacrity – The Oscars – Column


by William Ham
illustration by Michael Corcoran

Academy Fight Song (reprise): Goddamn the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Crafts. I spent the weeks preceding the Oscar nominations slobbering with excitement, waiting to get my annual digs in about Hollywood’s continual disdain for Art, how they prefer to commemorate talking pork roasts and homophobes in plaid skirts and more makeup than Ace Frehley rather than pay respect to anything more creative than coming up with a new noun to follow the word “Fatal” in the erotic thriller released that month, and what’d they go and do? They nominated good movies, that’s what!!! Quality independent-minded films with few explosions and no breakdancing aliens, only one of which starred Tom Cruise. What’s a starving, bitter old media vulture to do? Didn’t any overpaid actors turn overpaid director this year? I just know there were enough earnest courtroom monologues to go around – there always are. And yet they mysteriously insist on paying attention to examples of genuine artistic achievement just to fuck me up. Well, thanks a gold-plated naked bald man-sized heap, guys.

What happened to your sense of occasion? You had what may have been your only chance to show Madonna and Courtney Love jumping on each other and yanking the limp, bleached spaghetti out of each others’ scalps to an audience of billions, and you blew it. And I thought you people knew drama. And look at the women you did nominate: Fine, skilled performers to the last, but is one of them going to show up at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in a backless, sideless mini-dress made entirely of compressed Grape-Nuts and fiberglass with a low enough neckline to show off the flesh-colored Jello molds they’ve had soldered to their ribcage? No, you hadda give the whole course of nods to women with taste and their own mammai, and now we’re gonna have to watch Mr. Blackwell flap his limp wrists in fey frustration. Not an adequate replacement.

You people seem to have forgotten the whole point of the Oscars. For all our outraged blather in previous years about your multitudinous snubs and flubs, we’re secretly grateful for the payback. We don’t really care about the practitioners of cinematic art; in fact, we’re kinda pissed that we’ve dropped so many ducats to keep you in color-coordinated Maseratis. The Academy Awards is the one night of the year when we can all gloat over your petty jealousies, your fashion and grammar violations, and your distended senses of self-importance… without paying one red cent! So do us this one small favor – give us a couple garish production numbers (a Rob Lowe/ Quasimodo duet would go down quite nicely at this juncture), an overlong, mawkish speech or three, and consider tossing Tom Arnold a Lifetime Achievement Award just to see him ad-lib another unfunny sexist remark and calibrate the speed at which his Q rating plummets to somewhere around L. You owe us that much.