Let's Talk Oscars
Entry 6: Leave Anne Hathaway alone, Internet.
Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Troy and Dana,
I, too, loved that Sound of Music gag, which combined the thing Seth MacFarlane does best—granularly specific pop-culture references—and the kind of gentle barb that I appreciate in the midst of the Oscars’ hilarious display of self-regard. (Plummer, of course, seems to hate The Sound of Music, and I am delighted that he was reminded of his best-ever movie, now 48 years old, just before his self-aggrandizing bit about how all five Supporting Actress nominees will be working with him soon if they’re lucky.) Troy, I won’t go as far as you do in calling this the best Oscar ceremony you can remember, but I will say that anyone who thinks Seth MacFarlane was an embarrassment as Oscar host has a really short memory for Oscar hosts. He can sell a joke, he can ad-lib, and he’s got the golden pipes of an old-timey radio announcer. Approximately half his jokes were lousy, and a handful were actively embarrassing. I would describe him as worse than Alec and Steve, Chris Rock, and Letterman, and basically as good as everyone else for the last 20 years. Except he was better than Franco and Hathaway.
As for La Hathaway’s win this year, Dana, I had high hopes for the awfulsomeness of her speech, and that initial breathy whisper—so stagey, yet so obviously true!—made me briefly excited to think it might wind up an epochal event. But then it devolved into an earnest litany of agents and co-stars, a speech delivered by someone whose fear of appearing ridiculous overcame her innate ridiculousness. It’s a real shame. Leave Hathaway alone, Internet! How will she blossom into the sublime flower of wondrous faux-ingenuousness she is otherwise destined to be if you keep nipping her in the bud? (Speaking of which, Troy, I have nothing to say about her two important points, but I will note that someone at my neighbors’ Oscar party called her dress “sort of a Julie Andrews number,” which strikes me as both precisely what Hathaway was going for and extremely mistaken about the charms of Julie Andrews.)
At that Oscar party, occupied entirely by non-media folks, we all “tweeted” jokes and observations about the proceedings out loud with our mouths. Happy to relay that I got a lot of RTs, mostly delivered by the kind young man who sat next to my hard-of-hearing mother all night. The overwhelming response at the party was that the ceremony was OK: It had its ups and downs, with the “We Saw Your Boobs” opening number (and its entire attendant Shatnerian metaness) a definite up and most of the jokes between 9:30 and 11:30 the downs. (A real low point was MacFarlane’s introduction of Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron, in which he just noted that they are different from each other.)
About that number: Was it in poor taste? Yes. Was it meant to be? Yes. Was it funny nonetheless? Yes, thanks in great part to the game actresses who delivered prerecorded death stares (or, in Jennifer Lawrence’s case, an awesome fist pump). It was telling, of course, that many of the actresses mentioned in the song did not prerecord their death stares but were presumably delivering them, unseen by the camera, anyway. But it struck me that Lawrence’s response—like her laughing fit later that night when eye-groped by Jack Nicholson—was instructive. She’s from the newest generation of stars—a generation in which actresses are accreting ever-more power, and in which the appropriate response to gross old Jack is to laugh at him. Is Hollywood post-sexist? Of course not, Hollywood is still sexist as hell, and that was reflected in the Oscars, as it has been in every Oscar ceremony ever. But Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t give a damn. She’s baller.
In other news, I was as usual completely wrong about Best Picture—and everything else, as evidenced in my dismal performance in the Slate Oscar pool. But I was not wrong in thinking that crabby snacks would make an amazing Oscar-night appetizer. (Homemades, less so. Too messy.) I didn’t see you predicting that, Nate Silver.
Dan Kois is a senior editor at Slate and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.