“Crash.” That’s actually the title of the Best Picture, not a description of the audience numbers for last night’s Academy Awards show (the numbers are on Drudge, who reports that most of the viewers seemed to live either in Manhattan or Los Angeles.
Here’s what Pajamas Media liveblogger Andrew Leigh had to say (and believe me, the PJ liveblog is highly entertaining even this morning–which is more than could be said for last night’s leaden and self-congratulatory spectacle):
“Here’s the statistical rundown: Crash, with a theatrical box office of $53 million, is the lowest-grossing Oscar winner since ‘The Last Emperor,’ going all the way back to 1987. And that’s in non-inflation adjusted numbers. The average box office for all of this year’s Best Picture nominees was the lowest since 1984. I believe history will mark this year as the beginning of the end for traditional, big-studio Hollywood. Of course, I could be wrong. Of course, some say that year transpired long ago.”
I think “Crash” is about (because I, like most Americans, haven’t seen it–heck, it played for only about two weeks here in Washington!) racism in Los Angeles, or racial tension, or how everyone there lives in mono-racial enclaves, or somethng. In L.A., as some Internet wag has noted, the point of “Crash” is that when people have car accidents in L.A., they exchange ethnic slurs instead of insurance information like the rest of Americans.
Hmmm. Of the 15 years I lived in L.A., 14 of them were in neighborhoods that were either partly or mostly Hispanic, and partly all sorts of other groups, from Ukrainians to Armenians to Chinese. I don’t recall any racial tension. The only racism I ever encountered came from a bunch of highly successful, college degree-bearing “Chicano” (that was the fashionable name at the time–now, I think it’s “Latino”) folk-artists in one of my neighborhoods who used to diss the “gabachos” (that’s Chicano-speak for “rich white people”) who bought their art and ran the galleries that stocked their it. And of course, there is one group of Los Angelenos who do genuinely live in a mono-racial enclave: the wealthy, arty Westside liberals who make movies like “Crash.” They need to get out more.
As for last night’s Oscar show, it indeed had the pall of death about it. There was the corpselike Jon Stewart. Commented my husband: “That guy’s as funny as a crutch.” Actually, Stewart did pull off a good one-liner or two, missed by me (I was trying to cook some paella while watching and also keep my husband’s Red Rock supply going) but caught by Gay Patriot, also liveblogging. Here’s one:
“Bjork couldn’t make it because as she was trying on her dress, Dick Cheney shot it.”
And here’s another, aimed at the Academy Awards ceremonies themselves:
“This is the one place you can see this many Hollywood stars without having to donate to the Democratic Party. It is about time you all voted for a winner.”
As Gay Patriot noted, however, Stewart didn’t get too many laughs from the assembled celebs on that one. And most of the time, the stone-faced Stewart made like King Tut in his mummy case. What happened to Billy Crystal, one of the PJ guys asked–and it’s a good question.
Then there was the unsettling spectacle of watching Hollywood devour itself, in a montage of clips from classic Westerns–the ones that starred John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and the like–all cut so as to suggest “Brokeback Mountain”-style gay-cowboy innuendo in each. That sure threw the dog poop into the punchbowl. Not to mention the message: “Take that, red-state America, for not lining up to see this year’s roster of politically correct Hollywood didacto-flicks.” I wondered what some of the older Academy members sitting in the audience at the Kodak Theater thought of this, the men and women who had worked lovingly to produce those masterpieces of the Western genre that were being casually ruined by the awards-show smart-alecks. At least they had the sense not to do a pederastic double entendre on Alan Ladd’s scenes with Brandon De Wilde in “Shane.”
Then there was George Clooney’s acceptance speech for his Best Supporting Actor award for “Syriana,” another heavy-handed message-movie that nobody went to see. “I’m proud to be out of touch” with the rest of America, Clooney declared. Well ast least his “Good Night and Good Luck” (another lightly viewed message movie) didn’t get Best Picture.
And how about this for the Best Song winner: “It’s Hard Out Here to Be a Pimp.” I thought it was illegal to be a pimp, “out here” or anywhere else
And the most un-funny Lily Tomlin (did you check out that hideous dress?)-Meryl Streep comedy duo. Aren’t the ’80s over already?.
And the weird line-up of nominations and awards for no-audience-appeal films that had the most shadowy of box office runs in 2005. Who in America actually saw “North Country”? Who’s running out to see “Transamerica” or, for that matter, “Brokeback Mountain”?
And, finally all the rest of the self-congratulating, Clooney-esque pats on the Hollywood back laced with contempt for the ordinary Americans who just won’t see the films that Hollywood insists are good for us. Especially the How Courageous We Are montage of clips from such liberal favorites as “Grapes of Wrath,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Norma Rae,” “Thelma and Louise“….As Gay Patriot asked: “Thelma and Louise”? What useful thing did that movie accomplish?
There were a few genuinely moving moments, mostly during the few awards for the genuine moviemaking crafts that are still allowed on prime time. The film editors, sound editors, set designers costume designers, and special-effects guys are true artists, and in their faces you could read genuine pride and joy in their work as they picked up their awards. Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Reese Witherspoon also displayed true grace and joy in their acceptance speeches for their Best Actor and Best Actress awards–and also a measure of the humility so sorely lacking in blowhard George Clooney and his ilk. And didn’t Reese look dazzling in her sumptuous but thoroughly ladyllike anti-Hilary Swank gown? I’m so thrilled that the prizes went to neither Heath “Brokeback” Ledger or Felicity “Transamerica” Huffman that I plan to rush out and see both “Capote” and “Walk the Line” pronto.
Oh, and Hollywood-hated-because-Christian-beloved “Chronicles of Narnia” actually got an award, if only for Best Makeup! How did that happen? And “Wallace and Gromit” got Best Animated Feature–yay!–and “March of the Penguins” got Best Documentary Feature–double yay!
And we did get to see one of “Brokeback”‘s best inadvertently hilarious scenes: “You didn’t go up there to fish!”
And “Good Night and Good Luck” (directed by…George Clooney!) was not voted Best Picture! There is justice under heaven.
But believe me, there’s more entertainment on the PJ liveblog than in all the dreary Hollywood message-flicks that pulled in the awards last night combined.