And the award for the most cringeworthy, insensitive and unentertaining show goes to the 2022 Academy Awards.
I’m not just talking about the moment when Will Smith stepped on the stage and slapped the comedian Chris Rock for making fun of Jada Smith’s shaved head. That was theater of the absurd, and Hollywood knows a lot about that.
I’m stepping out on a limb here to say that an interaction between the two could have been predicted. Chris Rock has been poking fun at Jada Smith since she complained that her husband was not nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the 2015 film Concussion.
With the Smiths sitting just a few feet away, the Oscar decided to put the mouthy Chris Rock within striking distance … and sat back to see if any fireworks would erupt. A predictable plot as movie action goes.
Those of us watching on TV weren’t allowed to hear what was being said – the sound went dead apparently because Will used the f-word. While what came out of the actor’s mouth may have been deemed offensive by TV censors – and is so commonly used today that hardly anyone raises an eyebrow when it is uttered – no one seemed to care about the endless parade of exposed breasts that graced our television screens before the altercation took place.
Breast exposure is nothing new at the Academy ceremony. If you’re not there to win an award, I guess you have to be remembered for something. This year, it felt like some of the presenters were dressing for the AVN Awards, commonly known as the Oscars of Porn. Maybe it’s just me getting old.
Will Smith’s tearful acceptance speech in which he mentioned peace and love and his desire to protect his wife was followed by an appearance of Sir Anthony Hopkins who seemed, uh, rather lost. He did mention peace and love, which was about as close as the Academy Awards came to paying homage to the poor people of the Ukraine.
Other than that remark and a comment by Francis Ford Coppola, the Academy, just about the most political body in the U. S., except for Congress, was shockingly silent on Russia’s invasion.
Robert DeNiro, who has often publicly worked himself into a frenzy over former President Donald Trump, was mum when he appeared alongside Coppola and Al Pacino to celebrate 50 years of The Godfather. It was left to Coppola to say what should have been on the mind of others: “Viva Ukraine!”
Jessica Chastain did manage to shed a few tears for the plight of transgender and LGBTQ folks when she won her Oscar for best actress, but had no words of sympathy for the millions of people who are being bombed and driven from their homeland 6,000 miles away.
She even took a moment to praise Tammy Faye Bakker – the woman she portrayed – for her sensitivity and the “incredible things she did.” I was confused. Was she talking about the same Tammy Faye, who, in conjunction with her husband, bilked thousands of people out of millions of dollars to fund the couple’s lavish lifestyle?
There were more cringeworthy moments: The patting down of Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa by one of the female hosts … an egregious violation of privacy done for laughs; the choreographed display that often obscured the names of the celebrities and craftsmen who had passed away the previous year; the cuddling of a trembling rescue dog by Jamie Lee Curtis who was paying tribute to Betty White … and still offering no comfort for the people of the Ukraine.
But the award for the most insensitive moment goes to the final seconds of the show.
Brought onstage in a wheelchair to make the announcement of the best picture, 76-year-old Liza Minnelli appeared confused and ill-at-ease. She managed to shout out the name of the winner after being helped by a kindly Lady Gaga. Surely, the Academy knew how fragile the actress/singer had become. It’s been all over the Internet. If her appearance was intended to pay homage to a great entertainer, the effort was mis-guided. Instead, seeing her in that condition was heartbreaking.
Why did I watch this show, I asked myself as thoughts of the absurdities kept me awake? I guess I longed for the days when Hollywood showed a little more class – like Kevin Costner did when he spoke last night about the role of directors before presenting the award for best director to a woman, Jane Campion.
I guess I watched it because my man suggested it would be a good idea. Then an hour into the show, he headed off to bed. I should have done the same.