Ann Bednarski: Academy Awards show needlessly crude, political
March 2, 2013
Things are changing at an alarming if not frightening speed. Wow! It seems there are agencies who know exactly what we are watching on TV or searching on the Internet. For those of us who grew up in the last century, it really is a bit overwhelming and seriously invasive. Television providers know, for example, exactly which households were watching the Motion Picture Academy’s 85th Awards Show on Sunday. Did you? I did, and regrettably, most of the program I found to be offensive and often inappropriate.The tracking of activities within one’s own home is not the only serious shift in the invasion of privacy. Who we are is now defined by some very private, personal choices. I actually flinched when Seth MacFarlane announced the “Gay Choir of Los Angeles will now sing”. My thought was if ever you were in a school or church choir or taught students from all over the world as I did, chances are excellent some members had a same-sex orientation for their personal, private affections. I never asked; I never gave it a thought; and I still do not care to know anything about the privacy of any person’s life. We are not defined by our partners, or, has that changed? Consider actor Rock Hudson, who died from a disease called AIDS which afflicted many homosexuals. No one knew of Mr. Hudson’s choices; everyone was saddened by his illness and ultimate death. That man maintained his class and professionalism during his struggle. I admired him and what he contributed to the film industry. In 2013, sexual preference is apparently a part of one’s profile.Later in the program, with childlike glee, Mr. MacFarlane joined singers in a song about women’s bosoms; the lyrics actually name women who had bared their breasts in movies. Aloud I said to no one, “Really, is this the best you can do, Seth?” as if he were my student. The camera panned the audience and captured the groans and distaste from them. It was lackluster entertainment. Usually, an actor is not judged on their anatomy but skill in portraying a character believably. Why diminish the acting profession in this immature, silly way?Continuing with the program, in a rather flippant introduction, the sophomoric Mr. MacFarlane announced one of three actresses would present the next Oscar, stating “it does not matter which of them presents the nominees because you won’t understand them anyway.” Salma Hayek likely was insulted with that disrespect from the less than stellar master of ceremonies. A few parts of the program seemed to not fit. Why was the lead song from “Chicago” represented? It won the best picture Academy Award years ago. Also, a curiously strange addition was William Shatner and a Star Trek act. Conversely, the James Bond segment was an appropriate 50th anniversary tribute. Admittedly I saw none of the films nominated. There are two award-contended films I hope to see, “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables.” Glimpses of them and their casts piqued my interest.Some, few, but some parts of the Academy Awards Program have maintained a modicum of class and tradition. How refreshing. One of them is the “In Memoriam” segment of the program. This year Marvin Hamlisch, a songwriter whose work I admire and enjoy, was honored. As a tribute to him, Barbra Streisand sang “The Way We Were” respectfully changing the phrase to “The Way You Were” in honor of Mr. Hamlisch. That was just beautiful and a kindly touch of fondness and gratitude for his work. But, truthfully, I was anxious to see this program end. It was a disappointment because throughout I kept recalling years when our entire family watched the Academy Awards with excitement and interest in not only the movies, but the costumes, fashions, and hairstyles. I was pretty certain this year’s show would not compare to the class and professionalism it used to have. We have lowered the standard on excellence.The surprise to me, as I did not read up on the program beforehand, was to see Jack Nicholson yield his role in the program to the first lady of the United States. I did not think she was a member of the Motion Picture Academy. Is she? Also, this program is supposed to be about films; it suddenly became blatantly political.First Lady Michelle Obama speaking from the White House, flanked by several military aides-de-camp, read the nominees and announced the winner for the most coveted Best Picture Award. “Argo” was the winner. Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech was short, but I thought it lacked sincerity; some say he was disappointed about another award for which he was not even nominated.Sadly, Ms. Obama’s beautiful dress had to be photo-shopped for newspapers in Muslim nations. Her arms and upper torso had to be covered to meet their standards. • Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.