The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: Oscar Night’s Long Journey into Day

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

Every year come Oscar time I am doubly, triply, manifold reminded that living abroad, i.e. not in America, sucks. Why? Well, for one thing, I don’t get to see most of the nominated movies until about a month or two after the Oscars telecast, when they come out in German cinemas, and even then I only get the crappy dubbed version.

Now, for the record, I have to say that the German dubbing industry does a pretty good job most of the time – compared to the atrociousness that France or Poland have to suffer through when they watch movies not in their native tongue – and yet I don’t get why we can’t just adopt the Scandinavian principle and just have subtitles to the original audio track. For one thing, it would make all of our English better – which is something we could use, BELIEVE ME – and for another thing, we would actually be able to judge how good or bad a particular actor or a particular actress is and whether they deserve to win an Oscar.

I firmly believe half the performance of an actor/actress is in the voice, the way they deliver a line, the intonation, the innuendo, the undertones. How am I ever going to decide whether Christian Bale did a good version of Dicky Eklund and speaking in an American accent, when in my German dubbing he speaks the perfect polid high German accent all other characters in movies speak too? (I still cheered and hollered when he won though, I love the guy to death.)

Oh, and there is another reason why living abroad sucks come Oscar time: the telecast is on in the middle of the night on a fluffing Sunday! Some of us have to work on Monday, you know? Well, okay, not me, most of the time – university is flexible like that – but it’s the principle!
These Oscar shows usually run on and on too, so you never see your bed before 6 a.m. and you might as well just stay up then and have shitloads of coffee and power through the rest of Monday, the crappiest day of the week anyway.

Now, what makes this experience of staying up until 1 a.m. before you even get to see your first glimpse of a glamorous robe (thanks to one German TV station actually carrying a bit of the Oscar pre-show) even more excruciating is when the show you’ve stayed up for is as mind-bogglingly dull and tiresome as this year’s Oscar Awards show. Wow, what a mess!

I don’t think I need to get into all the specifics here, there are plenty of reviews of the three and a half hour monstrosity out there. But let me say this: I am still (barely) in the coveted demographic this year’s telecast tried to pander to and I think neither Anne Hathaway nor James Franco are particularly “hip” or “cool” or “trendy”. They don’t hit a nerve with the younger generation. No one watches General Hospital in our “age group”, and to be honest, I haven’t seen a single movie James Franco was in.

And Anne Hathaway: she’s pleasant, but she isn’t “hip”. She’s the girl you can bring home to mom. She’s not the girl to have you in stitches during a skit on an Oscar show. She barely even made me laugh on SNL. So you have to wonder: whose idea exactly was it to have these two hosting together?

Still, I am not opposed to the idea of actors hosting, and not even opposed to the idea of having two hosts. Watching Sandra Bullock effortlessly making the entire room laugh when she handed out the Best Leading Actor Award made me think she would be just about perfect for hosting duties. She is impossible not to love, she has enough self-deprecating humor to even go and accept a Razzie in person, and she looked more stunning than half the other actresses in attendance (Scarlett Johansson, that Dolce&Gabbana number was a dud!). Pair Sandra with someone as equally witty and quick-thinking as Hugh Laurie and you’ve got yourself a winning hosting couple! (Yes, he’s a TV star, but lots of younger people and the Fox audience love him, so he’d be perfect.)

It’s a bit much though, I believe, to expect the host(s) to carry the entire show, which has problems way beyond unfunny lines running in a teleprompter. Part of the problem is that the Oscars are always trying to pass themselves off as having some kind of gravitas, as if they really, truly mattered, when the reality is that they really, truly don’t. The Academy Awards have long stopped being about “artistry”, if ever that was really what they were about. The most obvious sign of this is the recent addition of five more movies to the Best Picture category. This was done purely for the benefit of including some more blockbusters, i.e. “movies people have actually seen”. Well, just because people saw it, doesn’t mean a movie is good, see Transformers or those Star Wars prequels.

So, if we have established that really the Oscars don’t matter (and are all about politics anyway), then we can steer the Awards show into a lighter, more exciting direction, where people act less like they are “the cream of the crop” and have a lot more fun. Heck, give the stars more alcohol like they do at the Globes and you’ll end up with a lot more f-bombs and funny speeches than you can count.
Oh, and also cut the Best Original Song category. Just cut it. It sucks. It always has. Just add that category to the Grammys – one awards show done right, btw, with lots of bling and pomp – and you’re golden.

A couple more random thoughts:

I didn’t pay close attention to the “In Memoriam” segment this year – given that I was half-asleep and half-distracted by the snarky comments on my Twitter feed about James Franco (LOVED following the Twitter while watching, will do this more often!) – but for some reason the “In Memoriam” segment now always makes me think of Heath Ledger and how much I miss him. It was one of the most moving moments in all the Oscar telecasts I have watched in the past 15 years, when the entire Kodak Theater stood for minutes and minutes applauding one of the best young actors we had in a long time, who left us too soon. And this year I couldn’t help wondering how much more amazing the 2011 Academy Awards Show could have been if Heath had stood at Anne Hathaway’s side, with his trademark smirk and a rogue sparkle in his eye…

Since that is not going to happen, can anyone explain to me why exactly that children’s choir sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the end? I mean, I know that choir is a Youtube sensation and all and I am not a parent, but I find watching kids uncoordinatedly singing and dancing on stage very uncomfortable. And that song made no sense, it didn’t relate to anything on the program. Heck, if you are gonna have all the winners come out of the wings one more time, you might as well have had the kids sing “We Are the Champions”, that would have been awesome! And funny!

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