Let's Talk Oscars
Your Oscar-watching experience may at points feel like a solitary vigil, but you've gotta remember that you are not alone. I mean, it's TV, right?! The electronic hearth! The glass teat! It takes a global village to raise a latchkey kid, etc., etc.
When I'm in the mood to hold forth about the history of American television, I like to gas on about how the medium reached maturity in 1953. That was the annus oh-wow-us of Lucy going to the hospital and Edward R. Murrow first paying celebrity housecalls on Person to Person. The Tonight Show and TV Guide and regular-season MLB broadcasts all launched that year, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II marked the debut of a smash-hit reality docu-soap called The Windsors. (That one airs at an irregular schedule, but I hear that a special wedding episode is coming up later this spring.)
Point is, 1953 was the year of the first Oscars telecast. The hosts were Bob Hope and Frederic March; the presenters included Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Mary Pickford; the bad omen was the best picture. The stunning High Noonlost out to the spectacularly spectacular Greatest Show on Earth, generally regarded among the silliest winners of all time. It bears mentioning that Greatest Show on Earth was not only produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille but also narrated by him. Let me quote from the intro: "A massive machine whose very life depends on discipline, motion and speed—a mechanized army on wheels that rolls over any obstacle in its path, that meets calamity again and again, but always comes up smiling. ... A fierce, primitive fighting force that smashes relentlessly forward against impossible odds: That is the circus." Also, that is a Harvey Weinstein Oscar campaign.
You know, just because you're watching the show alone doesn't mean you can't wear a prom dress while watching it. Tell you what, I'll drop by your place early on Sunday and drop off a wrist corsage. And you say that you're planning to enjoy "good snacks and a better-than-usual bottle of wine"? I'll also drop off a box of bon-bons, a bag of homemade Chex Mix, and a magnum of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Or should that be a jeroboam of Fiddlehead, the pinot noir of choice in The Kids Are All Right, a movie whose dozens of little demerits I'm not going to argue about, except to pick one nit: If Mr. Hunky Motorcycle is so into organic-farming shit, why doesn't he care at all what Julianne Moore is doing to his garden?
Yeah, Michelle Williams was great. No, it's not happening for her this year. I'm being practical and rooting for Natalie, and if Bening beats them both, I will immediately emit 140 characters about how she deserves it only on account of making an honest man of Warren Beatty. A girl's never asked me to tweet before. I'm blushing. Yes, let's tentatively dabble in live-tweeting this sucker.
Off to the florist,
Troy Patterson is Slate's television critic.