Friday, March 03, 2006

Some like it gold...

I got lots of things on my to do list. One of them is to write a post about the obsession of America with Pop culture, entertainment and celebrities. One thing is for sure: all those elements come together once a year for the biggest event of all: The Oscars (r) - or, as they're officially called, the Academy Awards (r).

Much has been said about the futility of watching multi-millionaire celebrities get together and congratulate themselves in a party so expensive and private that you couldn't even afford the prada-designed socks of the doorman. As a matter of fact, try to even approach the red-carpet leading to the above-mentionned door and you'll be taken care of, manu-military, in a fashion whose description would fit more in the "guantanamo" section of the NY Times than on "E! the exclusive coverage of your stars' arrival".

Then why, oh, why, do I watch every year?
Well first, I'm a sucker for award shows. Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Raspies, Indies, MTV European Music awards. Gosh, I'd even watch the Baftas if I could - even though Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sean Connery are the only thing of cinematographic interest to ever come out of Great Britain (please send your hate letters to

I even used to wake up, in the middle of the night back in France, to watch the Oscars broadcast offered by Canal+. The good thing was the absence of commercial interruptions, during which Canal would instead run movie trailers. On the other hand, the translation of the jokes and speeches was so atrocious that I usually preferred to hit mute and read the lips of the host, presenters and winners. Talk about a way to learn english.
I won't even mention the disaster that is Isabelle Giordano, the french commentator. A quote will suffice: "This year, someone received his 37th nomination in the best original score category. Some guy named John Williams. No idea who he is." (note: this year, John scored his 44th and 45th nomination.)

But let's move on.
The truth is, we like to watch people we'll never meet do stuff we'll never do. It's a wide awake dream, as well as an emulation. If we work hard enough, if we pursue our goals, then maybe, one day, we'll get there. It is, in that sense, just like religion. Celebrities are our gods, inaccessible beings we don't always understand, yet providers at the same time. And we feel like if we worship them enough, they'll grant us access to heaven.
That's where the oscars are great. Imagine a service where the like of Billy Cristal and Jon Stewart are officiating, with Charlize Theron and Halle Berry as Chorus girls. Even better, imagine if service was only mandatory once a year - oh, wait, that's catholicism. (Note: I gotta say, I would trade watching Gigly against 5 ave maria and 3 pater noster any day.)

So yes, I confess. I watch oscars the way people eat chocolate or sniff coke. They crave black or white, I crave gold.

And so, Crash crashed the party and won in place of favorite Brokeback Mountain.
Here's a prediction: people are gonna argue about which issue is more important: racism or homophobia. And they'll also wonder if the academy is homophobic. So let me tell you right now, even before the controversy starts. This is crap. Those are movies, and I think Hollywood is smarter than most people think. They voted for the picture they liked most.

Now, here's a theory of mine on why Crash won: it's a movie about Los Angeles. Academy people live in Los Angeles, they were happy to see a movie about something they know (I don't think lots of Academy members know anything about gay cowboys, but then, they didn't know much about Middle Earth two years ago either).

It's the same reason why "Sideways" got amazing reviews last year. A movie about depressed 40-something who realize they missed their true-calling in life? That's the best definition of a reviewer I've heard in a long time.


Baril said...

Sir Anthony Hopkins and SIR Sean Connery, please! Show some respect, Junior!

Ben said...

I meant Sir as a plural...
Maybe I should have said Sirs.

Adinaf said...

Where's all the fasion comments! ;-)

Van said...

I haven't seen crashed, i wasn't that impressed with Brokeback (good acting, but slowwwwww story line)but at last, the Penguins got an Oscar!

jul said...

I haven't see those movies so I have no advice about Oscars. I would have something to say about your ridiculous assertion about Anthony Hopkins and Sir Connery, but I do not respond to provocations (...Stanley Kubrick ?).
So, it's just to leave a message here; see you..

Ben said...

Van> The film is "Crash". Happy for the penguins? What kind of french chauvinism is that? You're in the US now! Plus, did you see the other documentaries (yeah. me neither)?
Jul> You don't respond to provacation? Since when ? :-)
Btw, Stanley Kubrick was born in the Bronx, New York in 1928. He did spent lot of his life in the suburbs of London though, where he died in 1999.
And he IS the greatest genius of all.

Van said...

Yeah, sorry crash, messed up the names:-s French or not, i'm not a big fan of documentaries and I wouldn't have thought i could like a 2-hour movie about penguins walking, starving and protecting eggs...

jul said...

ok, I was wrong about Kubrick...I'll find something, because it is obvious you are totally wrong (...Ken Loach ?)
I have to say that the best documentary ever is "Mondovino". No doubt about that. The realisator is a french-american. You should like that Benjh.

Adinaf said...

Some Like It Hot-- Do I win something now?