The Grotesque during 2014 Oscars

I think I watched every Oscars ceremony since the one when “Titanic” took the show by storm. This year Leonardo DiCaprio still does not have an Oscar.

I decided not only to watch it, but also to read about it on Twitter as the show went live. The Oscars definitely seemed more of a shared experience this way. It seemed I was not the only one on Twitter then, as the United States trending topics were all about the Academy Awards.

Every year I have some favorites that I can root for, this year unfortunately not. The movies nominated this year do not belong to my favorites (at least not yet).

I think that 2013 was not a good year for American movies in general. And the whole Oscars show was grotesque. Which is why I will write about it, not about the movies. (Is it really about the movies with the Oscars? Most of the time not. It’s about the stars.)

There are always some blunders and poor jokes involved in such an event, but despite the overwhelming amount of gifs, tweets and all this buzz (example: http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/the-best-moments-from-2014-academy-awards) the grotesque in some of these moments was not mentioned. Here is my time to spot it:

1. Pizza.

So you put on the most elaborate outfit you (or your managers and stylists) could think of just to pretend how down-to-earth you are when you gobble the cold and sticky slice of pizza. The contradiction IS funny, but in a way it belittles the event. The stars stop being these perfect creatures who compete against each other for the most prestigious award in the entertainment industry and start to be… dare I say it, like us? Brad Pitt eating pizza at the Oscars 2014 Yummy. Handsome millionaire superstar who also enjoys a slice of pizza when no one is watching. Wait, my bad, when the whole world is watching.

2. Adele/Idina

If you did not hear about it, Idina Menzel sang her hit from “Frozen” entitled “Let It Go.” And the song won an Oscar. But beforehand they chose John Travolta to announce her. One would think it was a safe choice. I would think so. He declared his love for musicals and then named her “the wickedly talented, the one and only Adele Dazeem.” I would be upset too. No wonder her act was totally disappointing. Watch the real one and only Adele singing “Skyfall” last year to see how it is done best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOfwHP7oW-8

If Travolta’s mistake was to remind us who is the best living singer now, it succeeded.

3. Samsung selfie scheme

If you think I’m being suspicious (conspiracy theories!) about Travolta, see this big deal made of the selfie packed with celebrities. Retweeted a record number of times, it became one of the most successful Oscars commercials ever. Samsung paid 20 million dollars to be featured during the gala and it was suggested that Ellen DeGeneres should use the phone of this brand.

Of course the company denies it (http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/mar/04/ellens-oscars-selfie-that-went-viral-not-marketing-stunt-samsung-insists). Reading through tweets I stumbled on so many comments: “I want my phone to have such photo quality.” Great success!

So really, the stars who gathered to be involved in this photo, consider this possibility: you were just props for a big company to advertise their product. I thought this night was about you and your work…

Well, it’s not. It’s all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkRIbUT6u7Q

Money makes the world go around - "Cabaret" song4. Attitude towards Liza Minnelli

One of the best movies of all time for me is the musical “Cabaret,” directed by Bob Fosse. You may agree or disagree, but for me this movie is a total masterpiece and I cannot think of another actress who could play Sally Bowles better than Liza Minnelli did.

The movie won 8 Oscars in the year of “The Godfather.” I could end my argument here, but just to be exact, that year 1972 moviegoers also saw “Deliverance,” “The Candidate,” “The Getaway,” “Sleuth,” “Frenzy” and “The Poseidon Adventure.” I didn’t mention non-English language movies. And “Cabaret” won. Liza Minnelli won. I admit that her career never peaked again afterwards, yet she continued to successfully perform on stage. She is one of 15 (!) people who won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, AND Tony Awards.

That’s just an intro for those of you who wondered who was this crazy old lady in blue and why she was acting like a star. Because she is one.

As to the crazy old lady attitude – the host Ellen “joked” that Liza looked like a male impersonator of Liza Minnelli. And added  “Good job, sir!”. The lady is 67, give me a break and do not comment on her appearance. Kim Novak “deserved” it as much, but they let her be the presenter and did not make fun of her. But whatever, I’m not going to talk about jokes in the monologue, they are almost required to be cruel, that’s a part of the convention.

ellen-degeneres-liza-minnelli-oscars-selfieLater Liza tried to be part of the selfie, did not get into it (how could she, when every person on the pic was so self-absorbed? The crown goes to Lupita Nyong’o’s brother who managed to cover not only Angelina Jolie, but also his sister.). Ellen tried to make up for it by posting a selfie with Liza.

Minnelli’s face is perfect. Just one big sore expression: “I don’t believe in the sincerity of your efforts and I am not amused.”

When we finally got to the part of the show which explained why she was sitting so close to the stage (remember, there are no accidents here), my jaw dropped. She was to be “a child of Judy Garland.” One of three. If you want to see the real unsuccessful career, despite the obvious talent, check Lorna Luft, Liza’s sister. But they are mentioned as children. And that’s it. Judy Garland, despite her role in “A Star Is Born” is to be forever remembered as America’s child sweetheart in “The Wizard of Oz.” And the movie is celebrated by the famous song “Over the Rainbow” rendition.

The movie that got commemorated is a great and important classic (and Pink sang beautifully), but the whole act is grotesque. If you treat a 67-year-old Academy Award winner as a child of the long-dead star who is also shown playing a child, there’s no hope for you. I suggest the second movie that should have been commemorated to be “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” and as guest appearances Joan Crawford’s and Bette Davis’s daughters. They both wrote books that claimed their mothers to be monsters. It would still be less grotesque than this. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" - Bette Davis and Joan CrawfordAll in all, I will return to watch next year. As always. There’s no business like show business. And there is only one event that sums up all that is amazing and dreadful there. That’s why it is fascinating for me, as I am a hopeless moviegoer. So the show producers do not have to appeal to me, I will still watch it. But to millions of others, they need social media and all this buzz to make the event look more important than it probably is for most of the world. Jared Leto’s speech was a great example of this discrepancy between the important events and media coverage they receive when he mentioned “all the dreamers” watching him in Ukraine and Venezuela. He said: “We are here and as you struggle to… to… make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we are thinking of  you tonight”. Then moved on to AIDS victims that his movie focuses on.

Because what is left to say about the protesters? What will it change? You are there, in Hollywood, the Dream Factory for all the dreamers.

Jared Leto at Oscars 2014

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2 thoughts on “The Grotesque during 2014 Oscars

  1. I, too, enjoy watching the Oscars. I like Ellen but I thought her hosting duties were incredibly lame. The Samsung tie in was incredibly obvious so they really shouldn’t deny it. Have you seen Liza on Arrested Development? I loved her on that show!

    1. I agree, some of Ellen’s interviews are great and I even liked her hosting in 2007, but this year was a disaster. Walking with advertized phone, trying to be goofy and appearing unprepared. Also her opening monologue didn’t include most of the movies this year. Time to watch some Billy Crystal with nostalgia.

      I haven’t seen Liza there, must check this show out as I heard many good things about it. Thanks for recommendation!

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