A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I guess it’s not too late to talk about Oscar some more — everybody else still is. The ceremony was fairly cool. The sets were gorgeous, most of the gowns were not and the ongoing faux feud between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon played out very well. Things fell a little flat when Jimmy tricked a bunch of ordinary folk into the auditorium for a “Hey! Let’s meet the peasants!” segment, but the millionaires were gracious and the peasants weren’t too unruly. The best line, however, came when Kimmel got a little too honest and quipped that Viola Davis was such a good actress that she had just won an Emmy for her very dramatic acceptance speech. As the man said, “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
Politics took centre stage most of the evening. And, surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Trump was the target. Many of the millionaires wore blue ACLU ribbons in solidarity with something or other, and the audience gave several standing ovations to a variety of causes-de-jour — including Meryl Streep. One director, however, Ava DuVernay, went the extra mile and wore “a gown by a designer from a majority Muslim country.” She tweeted her bravery out to the world — just in case the Wal-Mart crowd weren’t aware of what a Lebanese-designed designer dress actually looked like. Given that many celebs charge designers a healthy fee to wear their creations, this might very well have been a politics-for-profit moment. And speaking of profit, the Swag Bag the millionaires got, just for showing up to the Oscars (actually a good-sized box — hand- delivered) was worth somewhere north of $100,000 this year. It included — among a boatload of other stuff — a free stay in Hawaii. Somehow, those calls for equality just got a little hollow.
But it was all in good fun. Mel Gibson was welcomed back into the fold, Auli’i Cravalho got whacked on the head and some unknown somebody got scattered applause for mentioning the Koran. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar, Damien Chazelle became the youngest director and Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty became a meme for having one job — one job. However, their performance deftly illustrates that even though actors have an exaggerated sense of self-worth and a gigantic soapbox, at the end of the day, they’re still just reading the words they’re given, and have very little idea what’s actually going on in the world.