Cards on the table: I didn’t watch it. If you think that’s going to be a problem, stop reading now.
The 88th Annual Academy Awards got off to a promising start thanks to a predictably wry and on-the-nose opening monologue host Chris Rock (I did actually watch this bit.) As you are no doubt aware, the Oscars has been under fire ever since the nominations were first revealed. For the second year in a row, people who spend too much time on Tumblr wasted no time in declaring the Academy Awards the most racist thing ever to happen in the history of the United States of America. Notable black celebrities such as the actress Jada Pinkett-Smith and the FBI informant Al Sharpton condemned the Oscars for only nominating white people in all major categories. While I fully support all cries for increased diversity in Hollywood’s biggest films, once again I find myself asking: “How does Alejandro González Iñárritu feel about all these bloggers claiming he’s actually an old white man?”
To Rock’s great credit, he addressed the situation frankly and openly without pulling any punches but without turning an awards hand-out ceremony into an open forum. As ever, the adept stand-up kept the laughs coming, resulting in a fun game in the audience could participate: “Which white celebrity is laughing the hardest in order to win brownie points from any Buzzfeed bloggers watching?” My money was on Matt Damon. Oh, Matt did chortle at those “Is Hollywood racist” remarks. And he would know: nobody gets the black experience better than Matt Damon.
Hmm…what else did I see of the Oscars? To be honest, I probably should have watched the show. But look, you have no idea how exhausted I was when I came home from work last night. See, I’m in the middle of recertification so I can teach the new SAT — it’s garbage, the test is going to crash and burn — so I had a long day of training to get through. Plus it was my girlfriend’s birthday and she really wanted to watch Must Love Dogs. So I watched Must Love Dogs, which was a film, and then I watched a few episodes of Brass Eye before passing out.
It was only after waking up when I learned of the shocking, terrible news. You may not be aware of this, my faithful readers — Happy New Year, by the way, it’s been a while. — but somebody won an Oscar last night. And I hate this person more than anyone who has ever worked in the film industry. In fact, I’m going through some names off the top of my head…O.J. Simpson, Joseph Goebbels…gee, there’s so many…Zack Snyder of course (Has he got a new film out?)…I hate this person more than all of those names combined…and the name of that person is, well, Sam Smith.
Because I hate Sam Smith. I hate everything about him, really. I think his name is boring, I hate the fact that “Stay With Me” is always playing in bagel shops, and I hate him because he wrote “Writing’s on the Wall,” the theme from the James Bond picture Spectre. I hate it because it’s not a real song. It’s a muzak track set to the sounds of Paul Stanley’s calico cat in heat. Moreover, the fact that Sam Smith has an Oscar now means I hate the Oscars, I hate everyone who has ever won an Oscar (including Alfred Hitchcock for winning that “You’re Gonna Be Dead Soon And We’re Idiots” Oscar that he didn’t care even about.) Now, you may think I’m overreacting. But I’m not.
BECAUSE I HATE SAM SMITH. I hate Sam Smith because of his boring name. At least when Madonna wrote a shit Bond theme everyone went, “You know what? That ‘Die Another Day’ sure is shit but at least a singer with a memorable name is responsible. This way I can always remember who I’m supposed to hate for this song.” But you can’t do that with Sam Smith because nobody can remember a name like Sam Smith unless you say it over and over again. And I hate Sam Smith because he wrote the worst Bond theme ever written and then bragged about scribbling the shit out in 20 minutes. Because why would anybody want to put forward any effort in writing a James Bond theme? You’ve already been paid, right? And clearly Barbara Broccoli is using the rest of the Cubby Broccoli Estate money to pay off Academy voters, so every James Bond theme from here on out will always win the Oscar regardless of whether or not atonal whining can be considered singing. So congratulations, Sam Smith. You’ve won your Oscar for a song nobody likes that took 20 minutes of your hard-earned time when you could have been looking into the mirror and trying to remember your own boring fucking name. Paul McCartney doesn’t have an Oscar, and you do. Nice. You’re a legend.
On a more positive note, the true highlight of the night for anyone who actually cares about cinema was when the maestro himself, Ennio Morricone, won his first Academy Award for this brilliantly menacing score for Quentin Tarantino’s satirical chamber piece The Hateful Eight — his best film since Jackie Brown and I will fight anyone who disagrees — and accepted the prize in front of a massive standing ovation. Morricone’s speech was predictably classy, although had he undermined his disposition by flipping off the Academy on live television for taking this long, I wouldn’t have objected.
Okay, that was the only other bit of the Oscars I watched. Now’s the time to get out.
A quick scan of the full winners list reveals that in a surprising upset that I would have lost a bet on, Sylvester Stallone did not take home the gold for his seven hundredth performance as Rocky Balboa. Instead, Mark Rylance won for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, which I have not seen. But Rylance is a British stage actor who wins a lot of Tonys and Olivier awards, so presumably, that’s all the Academy needed to know because they didn’t see Bridge of Spies either. Poor Stallone. He doesn’t have a third Oscar, and he can’t get an erection without the use of a metal rod in his sack. Which problem would you rather have? Let us know in the comments!
Let’s see, what else happened?
Well, I see Amy won Best Documentary. I don’t have a joke about that. Amy was one of the best films of last year, and all of you should see it–even if you’re not an Amy Winehouse fan. Seriously.
Uh, there were also technicals, but I assume they went to Mad Max. In order to cut costs, they ditched the orchestra in favor of a giant trough that doubled as a replica of a German trench during the Battle of Verdun. There, Harvey Weinstein spent the Oscars ceremony eating himself to death on a year’s supply of fried calamari mixed with peanut butter and Heinz 57 sauce.
Meanwhile, the Academy finally got the message about all their endless, pointless montages. Thankfully, there were only two this year. First, Woody Harrelson introduced an earnest montage about animals who were killed in old films like Heaven’s Gate and Apocalypse Now. It made Mark Ruffalo cry. Normally, in the homestretch of the ceremony, a tasteful In Memoriam tribute is unveiled. But when producers decided to keep the show light, they cut the In Memoriam and swapped it with a tribute to Kylie Minogue. These are both positive changes.
Then Leonardo DiCaprio lost in a shocking upset to Eddie Redmayne. As this was supposed to be “his time,” DiCaprio saw red, charged the stage, and beat Redmayne to death with the bloodied statuette, which is what everyone is buzzing about on this morning’s Facebook feed in case you haven’t noticed. Martin Scorsese accepted the Oscar on DiCaprio’s behalf but is refusing to actually gave it back to him, I’m told.
I didn’t see The Revenant. I hear it’s a bit like that scene in Hercules in New York when Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was Arnold Strong in those days, protected his girlfriend’s honor by a wrestling a man in a bear suit in the middle of Central Park. They had to dub over Arnold’s voice when the film first came out because Arnold was so bad. To be fair, about half of his dialogue consists of Arnold repeating the line, “But I am Hercules.” When they released the DVD, the trailer announced that Hercules in New York was coming out “NOW With Arnold’s Real Voice!” Why am I even writing about the Oscars when I could be watching Hercules in New York instead? There’s another fella in Hercules in New York called Arnold Stang, an old New York comic who supposedly married my grandfather William Redfield, whom you may have seen in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but more importantly was in an Elaine May film, and his third wife, my step-grandmother Linda. Hey, are there other films starring two guys called Arnold? Let’s revisit that. It’ll be my next clickbait Top 10. Graves, you wanna write it with me?
I’m not really sure what else there is to say about the Oscars. It happened, and as usual, people are inventing new excuses to complain about it. But these complaints are predicated on the assumption that the Oscars matters. But I don’t even care about the Oscars anymore and I used to watch the damn thing every year. It’s an arbitrary, four-hour commercial for boring, inoffensive, “important” movies that nobody will ever see more than once. Had Mad Max: Fury Road won, it would’ve been the first Oscar winner since No Country for Old Men that I will watch multiple times throughout my life. Even with the diversity issue, I always felt the problem was more with Hollywood itself than the Oscars. The Oscars are a stupid symptom of a bigger problem.
So instead of trying to fix the Oscars, why don’t we just clean house, kick everybody out, and start again from scratch? Like the time Oliver Cromwell stormed into the Rump Parliament and gave them what for. See, at this point in his controversial career, Oliver Cromwell was on the war path toward becoming Lord Protector of England, as I learned from a Monty Python song. But he was faced with a major obstacle. Five years earlier, Cromwell had successfully led the New Model Army to victory against the Cavaliers — the Catholic Royalists who were loyal to King Charles I — thereby ending the Second English Civil War in 1648. Unfortunately for Charles, he was forced to pay a minor penalty by laying his head down on a block underneath a giant axe in January 1649.
With Charles out of the picture, Oliver Cromwell established the Commonwealth of England and governed the British Empire alongside the Rump Parliament, which was the result of Colonel Thomas Pride’s purge of the Long Parliament that previous September 1648. Over the next few years, Cromwell’s activities included slaughtering thousands of Irish and Scottish peasants and eventually dissolving the Rump Parliament in 1653 for reasons that remain a mystery to both. Once he destroyed the Rump Parliament, Cromwell was able to declare himself Lord Protector of England.
In other words, if President Cheryl Boone Isaacs were to dissolve the Academy membership entirely, preferably at a massive mandatory ceremony where she could admonish them in the manner of Richard Harris in the 1970 film Cromwell – then we could rebuild a cinematic culture in which awards don’t matter and art can be judged on its own merits, as opposed to the merits of other art works.
As I conclude, I reflect on how far I’ve come since the commencement of this essay. It seems I am in total agreement with the tactics and policies of Oliver Cromwell. But I hate Oliver Cromwell because he was a Puritan despot who massacred my Irish ancestors in the name of land and religion. This is what the Oscars has done to me.
So fuck the Oscars. Fuck the Oscars the way Oliver Cromwell fucked my people.