LIFE DURING WARTIME
Watching the Academy Awards makes me squirm. Me, squirming, is not a pretty picture, so I tend to avoid those near occasions of sin. It’s not that I hate movies or the rich and famous people who make them, though I understand some of those folks are hateful. It has more to do with the unconditional, unmitigated, unabashed artifice of the whole ceremony. It’s a separate reality.
For yours truly, Oscar night plays like a movie about the making of movies and the aftermath of the making of movies, while thumbing its nose at the three cardinal rules of the making of movies. 1) You need at least two stirring, eventually converging plotlines. 2) You need dynamic, three-dimensional sets-and-setting, preferably involving volcanoes and the deep blue sea. 3) And you need characters who’ll convince you they believe what they’re saying. How often does any of this happen at the Academy Awards?
Or maybe it’s more (or less) complicated than that. When I watch a movie, if I don’t care, really care---viscerally, emotionally---about anyone in the story, when there’s no moral difference between characters, or between means and ends, I’ll fall asleep. The narrative has to matter to me, ethically and aesthetically. Otherwise….
Between you and me, Oscar night is a movie that, if tested against its own putative criteria, would wind up in its entirety on the cutting-room floor. I have to admit, though: after hearing Heidi and John’s conversation with Frank DeCaro on the Morning Show Friday, I’m thinking that a dinner party featuring the recipes of dead rich and famous people (The Dead Celebrity Cookbook) might be just the ticket for the likes of me. Barbecued Lamb ala Frank the Chairman of the Board Sinatra, anyone? Let’s watch the Awards with the sound off and Talking Heads/Popular Favorites as our soundtrack.