[ NOTE: If you do want to watch the Oscars, but don't have a tee-vee...then EW.com is a good place for coverage. If you follow this link, they have a really well-put-together "dashboard" that has a live commenting feature and a little video screen that I think will show the awards ceremony. Right now they are just showing the pre-show stuff...and maybe ABC won't let them show a live feed of the telecast itself, but if they don't then EW will have a running play by play and screenshots of the event. I've never seen a "dashboard" like this before and really like what they put together. ]
So, tonight is “Oscars Night”….which is technically one of the “High Drinking Holidays” here in Boystown; these are either lesser-known or essentially gay-specific “holidays” that straight people almost entirely ignore, but gays relish as excuses to get dressed up funny and then drink like crazy. There will no doubt be buff twenty-somethings painted gold and dancing on tables in shiny Speedos…meant to represent Oscar itself. The more talented drag queens in town will channel the ghosts of the great stars of the past, so Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, and others could walk the Earth yet again tonight…albeit with an extra part or two tucked away somewhere that they never had in life. A handful of bars will show the entire four hour telecast, which is technically illegal and against ABC’s broadcasting rules…but the day the entertainment industry will ever sue a gay bar for copyright violations is probably the day after I personally win an Oscar for something myself.
I have absolutely no interest at all in watching the Academy Awards this year…just as I haven’t cared about the awards or the ceremony itself in a good number of years. That’s not how it always was for me, and in fact when I first moved to Chicago I participated in “Oscars Night’ along with a lot of other guys in Boystown. I even went to a few of the fundraising events where we had to dress up as a characters from movies…and enjoyed being Kevin Costner to my friend Althea’s Whitney Houston in our The Bodyguard tribute…or Marty McFly in the year 2015 for a Back to the Future group outing I was part of, back in 2005 or so.
I don’t think my lost interest in the Oscars is all that attributable to getting older or a “been there, done that” jade towards life…because I’m still as psyched for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, other holidays as I am every year. It’s just that movies are no longer as big a part of my life as they used to be, and I just don’t think Hollywood itself is all that relevant to my world.
My boyfriend Justin’s down in Arkansas visiting his parents this weekend and it’s one of those blue sky days here in Chicago with the sun shining brightly, melting all the snow, so it would be nice to get out of the apartment and watch the Oscars somewhere, I suppose…but I just don’t want to sit through it and would rather spend the evening catching up on books I’ve been meaning to read and trying another attempt to perfect my recipe for kung pao chicken (so it’s actually not-too-spicy-for-Justins). Whenever Justin’s out of town I make things for myself that he either doesn’t like or that are too-spicy-for-Justins (as he calls it), and I try to tame things down so that in time they can be Justin-approved favorites.
If he was here, he’d be scoffing at the Oscars because this is a tradition that he and his mom have…where they have a pressing need to pee all over a lot of things. The two of them very much enjoy going on for hours about how much they don’t like something, but they never of course realize how much power they give these things over them…or how wallowing in negative energy is just plain bad for their souls. His mother, CarolAnne, calls here at least three times a day (morning, noon, and night!) to go on about how terrible this or that is…and so I picture the two of them huddled by a flickering tee-vee in Eureka Springs, Arkansas tonight jeering at the screen…and maybe tossing handfuls of popcorn at the set as the two of them watch all four hours of the thing they supposedly both hate.
I’ve talked about this before, but one of the things that I really find dangerous about the Internet is the way it brings out real nastiness and negativity in a lot of people…particularly those who are anonymous and hide behind screen names. If you bop around to various conservative sites today, you’ll find a lot of angry and sometimes near-apoplectic people going on about how much they hate Hollywood or how they just despise actors and actresses and the political views these people have. It’s exhausting to even read this…and so cliche, too, because it’s the same things they go on about year after year; really, it’s like picking up the phone and hearing CarolAnne on the other end and wondering what day it is because a recorded message would be less repetitious and reliable.
While I do believe the Left has won the Culture War and that conservatives are foolish not to appreciate the ongoing role that Hollywood plays in Democrats’ hold on power, I just think being hateful and nasty towards anything or anyone is just wasted energy. There are plenty of things out there that I don’t especially like…but instead of hating them I just mock them relentlessly. Ridicule, and the act of getting others to laugh at a particular entity, is a far more effective strategy than just repeating the same screed you used the last time opportunity afforded you a chance to “vent” about how terrible this or that really is.
So, the Oscars mean nothing to me anymore…but I don’t hate them…and I don’t hate the people who hand out these awards or who receive them. I just think the whole thing is ridiculous at this point and whatever magic the ceremony had for me was lost long ago. I realized this morning that I had never properly charted out the WHY of all this…or bothered to think about at what point the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lost me as a fan and viewer. I love absurdity and enjoy terrible singing and dancing and shows that go on and on without edits or endings…so the Oscar telecast used to be right up my alley, down to the post-telecast shower I’d take before heading to bed where the bottle of shampoo would no doubt become a makeshift award while I thought for a moment or two about what I’d say to a billion people if I ever had the chance to be up on that stage.
I realize today that there are Five Reasons why the Oscars mean nothing to me anymore…and also that I’ve come to see the Oscars as one of the most virulently racist events on our national calendar.
5. As noted above, I used to love how ridiculous the Oscars ceremony was and how stupid a lot of the Hollywood celebrities made themselves look on tee-vee (but they’ve gotten away from that). There will never be anything more glorious than watching a clearly-embarrassesd Rob Lowe singing “Proud Mary” with a bewildered young woman forced into a Bob Mackie Snow White costume (which ended up going into the closet of one of the show’s male producers after the telecast…and the transvestite was ultimately buried in it!). The Academy vigorously pulls all clips of this epic disaster from YouTube almost as fast as they are posted, but if you’ve never seen the “Snow White Disaster” from 1989 I really encourage you to follow this link and watch it now before it’s yanked from this foreign site as well. You can also Google it, but you have to put in the phrase “Branca de Neve e Rob Lowe nos Oscares”, which I think is gibberish for “Snow White and Rob Lowe Embarrass Themselves and Everyone Else at the Oscars”.
In this 1989 show-opener, Snow and Lowe danced together on stage after a round of “Wake the Dead”, where “Hollywood Legends” from the past (who are all dead now) sat at tables and then stood up quickly for the cameras to prove they were still alive (at the time). This was similar to the sort of thing you see whenever Liza Minnelli marries a gay guy, and the church gets filled with faded “Old Hollywood” luminaries who you could have sworn were interred somewhere under marble. If you look closely, Vincent Price is even in this clip…which added a whole dimension of Thriller to “Wake the Dead” that can never be repeated.
So, in a weird way I just don’t care about the Oscars anymore because not only can’t the Academy ever top the “Snow White Disaster”, but the fools don’t even want to try. Let me produce the show one year and see just how absurd and fun it could be…though my friend Yoshi probably thinks I’d “only talk about dirty carpet”.
4. I’m still upset that the Academy refused to honor Farrah Fawcett in the “In Memorium” segment during the 2010 Oscars…because they snobbishly insisted that “she was just a tee-vee star”. Well, actually, her movie Extremities was excellent…and alone qualifies her as a “movie actress”. She also was an incredibly nice lady whose antics were a joy to follow through the years…and she was horribly upstaged by Michael Jackson when he died a few hours after she did in the summer of 2009. So, poor Farrah not only didn’t even get a full day of media coverage for her own passing…but she was snubbed at the Oscars too. Meanwhile, scores of producers and studio executives and people we’d never heard of and who had no lasting impact on pop culture enjoyed time in that slideshow.
This really drew my attention to the cruel games the Academy plays with the “In Memorium” montage, which should be the one thing these people never politicize or maliciously mess with. Apparently, if you’re the family of a dead celebrity you have to lobby the Academy for inclusion in the montage…and the giving of gifts is often involved to ensure “proper” representation. Which is sick. On top of that, the Academy often passes judgment on people whose lives didn’t turn out as spectacularly as their initial debuts in Hollywood.
What they did to actor Corey Haim was even worse than what they did to Fawcett, because Haim was strictly a movie actor…and was the big teen heartthrob and Tiger Beat hero when I was in grade school. But, he was one of the myriad child stars that Hollywood devours and then throws out onto the street when they lose their cuteness and Tiger Beat looks. Haim died of a drug overdose and the Academy used that as an excuse to pretend he never existed the year he should have been featured in that “In Memorium” slideshow. They did the same thing to actor Brad Renfro when he overdosed too. But, yet, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe and scores of other stars who OD-ed remain entire constellations in the Hollywood pantheon.
I abhor double-standards…and it’s especially loathsome to watch Hollywood do to young male stars what Boystown largely does to the twinks and party boys who age out of the bar scene when their looks fade and they sort of lose their identity in life, never having prepared for the day when they weren’t the hot young things spray-painted gold and dancing on the tables on Oscar night. Excluding Haim and Renfro because they were “washed up” at the time of their deaths and being so bitchy towards Fawcett was just such typically “Gaystapo” behavior…and so endemic to the way the gay “community” operates here in Boystown…and, clearly, Hollywood as well.
3. I’m tired of black people only be rewarded for playing maids, drug addicts, prostitutes, con artists, criminals, drunks, “magical negroes”, or low-lifes. This is actually something my friend Althea tuned me into years ago, but have you ever really thought about the kinds of roles the Academy chooses to heap praise upon when it comes to black actors and actresses?
I really love Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, but they were recently nominated for playing maids…with Spencer winning for a slightly-updated role that Hattie McDaniel or Butterfly McQueen would have been forced to play in the 1930s. I think Denzel Washington seems like a very nice man, but he’s nominated again this year for playing a drug addict/drunk. Cuba Gooding won an Oscar for being a jive-talking, steppinfetchit, magical black friend to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire…which transcended absurdity and is just an embarrassment to the Academy.
Whoopi Goldberg was terrific as Oda Mae Brown, but she was a con artist in that movie. Halle Berry was crowned the first female black Best Actress winner, despite being half-white, for playing a prostitute (who I think was also a drug addict). Forrest Witacker won an Oscar for being an African cannibal.
Meanwhile, Angela Bassett was passed over for one of the greatest performances in movie history…where she played a strong, confident and successful black woman (that would be Tina Turner). Viola Davis didn’t get an Oscar for being the hardworking, dedicated mother in Doubt…but I wonder if the Academy would have given it to her if she was a prostitute or drug addict maid in that movie.
I just think all of this is so incredibly racist…but that’s just typical of the Left.
One of the things I keep telling you on this site is that the Left always accuses other people of the things that they themselves relish doing. And in the case of the Oscars, the Academy voters think it’s funny to only honor black people when they serve in humiliating roles…like slave, maid, prostitute, con artist, criminal, drunk, dope fiend, crackhead…or “magical black man”, which is the basis for Will Smith’s entire career.
I know sometime after 2017 that Smith’s going to play Barack Obama in a movie and that he’s going to get an Oscar for it. That’s going to be one of those years that there’s an exception to the “only give Oscars to black people when they play humiliating roles”…because Hollywood has already decided that they’re going to make Obama into a bigger and more epic legendary figure than Dr. Martin Luther King. But no doubt the year after the “Will Smith as Obama” Oscars they will be back to giving black actresses Oscars for being maids and black actors Oscars for being criminals or drug addicts.
I just hate seeing them be so blatantly racist year after year, so I just don’t enjoy watching this show and being reminded of how truly stupid the Academy voters really are (or what sick senses of humor they have, if that’s what’s really behind this garbage).
2. Speaking of racist garbage…the Oscars lost all meaning to me when “Crash” won over “Brokeback Mountain”. This one actually surprised me, because I did not start out as a big Brokeback Mountain fan. This was back when I first moved to Chicago and I remember the Oscars parties that year had so many guys dressed up as cowboys it wasn’t even funny. I had seen Brokeback at a special screening in Boystown that ended up being filled with mostly guys in their 50s and 60s (or older). Very roughly, these were the guys who would have been the age of Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar back in the 70s…which is the time period in which Brokeback is set.
Those guys cried through the entire movie, remembering what it was like to have to hide who they were or pretend to be straight to avoid being murdered for being gay. When I talk about the bar The Lucky Horseshoe here in Boystown these are the grandfather types who have only now come out in their 60s or 70s…and every cell in their being is just soaked in regret that they were never able to be who they wanted to be back when they were as young as the little muscle pups dancing on the stages in their jockstraps. It’s really heartbreaking.
Brokeback is on Netflix streaming for free and I don’t know what made me revisit it a few months ago, but I hadn’t seen the movie since that one screening in Boystown when the film had first come out. I have to say that it’s one of the most emotionally draining and meaningful movies I’ve ever seen…and I think that’s only because in the years since I saw it last I finally experienced the sort of loss and hurt that I needed to have on my heart to be able to appreciate the film. It’s so rare for a movie to get better for me as I see it in different decades of my life, but Brokeback is like this in the way that Terms of Endearment means something new to me now that I have Justin in my life and I would do just about anything for him.
But, the Academy gave the Best Picture Oscar to the “movie about race” that year, which was Crash…instead of giving it to the “gay cowboy movie”. Once again, the Academy proved how irrelevant and stupid it truly is because I dare any of you to tell me (without looking it up on Google) what Crash was even about and include the names of the major characters while doing so. I vaguely recall there’s a car accident and Sandra Bullock’s in it, but after that I end up mixing in things that happened in her movie The Net, because there was a car crash in that as well.
I ended up buying a book on Brokeback that not only included the original Annie Proulx story that the movie was based on but also commentary from the author and director Ang Lee about what it was like making the movie. I think another reason I love Brokeback now is because Proulx was just so candid about how horrible supposed “fans” can be to an artist. She talks openly about how much she hates some of these people, because they write her letters and send her emails telling her how she could have made Brokeback better; my favorite part of all this is when she says that 90% of these letters come from supposedly straight men who send her alternate-universe sequels to Brokeback in which Jack doesn’t die and instead he and Ennis really do open up that ranch they always talked about…but then the story turns into nonstop gay porn shortly after that.
I have a similar experience here at this site because several times a week supposedly straight men email me with intensely graphic discussions of what they think about gay sex…and more often than not they tell me about things I have never even heard of and I’ve been openly gay since I was 18. I just write these people back and ask, “If you are supposed to be straight then why are you thinking about any of this…and why do you think I want to know your opinion on ‘sounding’ or a ‘Cleveland steamer’?”.
Hilarious. You just have no idea how huge a relief it is sometimes to get insight like this from other writers or people who encounter unsolicited feedback from the general public on what they do in life. The Internet has created millions of anonymous armchair critics who enjoy sniping at anyone who spends his or her energy creating…and all of these people believe they can do everything better than the person they have in their crosshairs. Proulx really struck a chord with me when she went into how Fatal Attraction and Single White Female a lot of this stuff is, because invariably these people start out claiming to love an artist and be a big “fan”…but then there’s a psychological break and these anonymous critics become fanatic harassers of the writer or singer or actor they once supposedly loved. It is all so very strange…and it’s something that Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Proulx and only a few other writers have ever addressed at any length that I’m aware of.
So, needless to say, as Brokeback Mountain won an increasingly larger place in my heart I have continued to lose increasingly more respect for the Academy that dumped on it in favor of the now-forgotten “important race movie!”. One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen in all my life was on Oscar night that year when I watched the live results in a bar, with all those guys wearing cowboy hats. I remember the Best Picture category coming up…and you could hear a pin drop. The bartenders had complimentary bottles of champagne ready to pop when Brokeback won. But, then, CRASH…and the entire bar GASPED. After that, the tears flowed.
Sometimes in a gay couple it’s startling to see who ends up comforting whom and which guy is the emotional one. Big, burly, lumberjack type guys were bawling…and the little John Waters-esque wispy cow-pokes with them were telling Big Hoss it was going to be okay…and that “they got it wrong this year”. I have never again seen crying like that in Boystown…and probably won’t until Madonna passes on. These guys in their cowboy hats were inconsolable, and it tugs at my hear that the Academy did that to them.
Honestly, who really would have been sad if Crash had lost that award? Apart from the people who made the film, I doubt it would have been anyone. The Oscars have never felt the same for me since.
1. There just aren’t any “movie stars” left who I give a damn about. There’s actually a really good chance that Elizabeth Taylor was the last movie star, in my opinion. When I was in Los Angeles recently, I made a point to go out to Forest Lawn in Glendale and visit her tomb in the Great Mausoleum; she’s interred in a wall behind a massive angel sculpture and I took a moment to thank her in person for everything she did in the early days of the HIV/AIDS outbreak…and also for being a great friend to closeted gay actors Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, and others back in the day. “Liz”, as she’s forever known in gay circles, used to actually hang out at the bar The Abbey in West Hollywood and friends of mine who’ve worked there or haunted the places said she was one of the bawdiest, raciest, and most fun people who’ve ever spent time in there. She was generous and kind and was a real broad more than any Dame. I’m convinced we’d have been fast-friends if only we’d been afforded the opportunity.
I just can’t think of anyone else who I care about in Hollywood. I’m never happy when anyone dies (unlike those on the Left who seem to relish whenever anyone they don’t like has health problems), but I don’t see myself shedding any tears when the likes of George Clooney or Julia Roberts or whoever finally pass away. I met Roberts once when I worked for a famous chef here in Chicago and she was polite and everything…but she’s not, and never has been, anything particularly special. I think Clooney’s a buffoon…and find it hilarious that a college dropout feels entitled and qualified to perpetually lecture the rest of us on what we should think and believe. And those are two of the least obnoxious “stars” of today. Others, like Matt Damon for instance, are just so full of irrational hate and come off as so very unstable.
This makes me wonder if there’s a bigger backlash against these people than any of us realize…because movies just don’t seem to turn the profits they once did. You can’t really look at the box office numbers alone, because inflation and 3D ticket prices skew everything…so even if the entertainment industry is claiming record numbers you really can’t believe their accounting practices. I think a better indicator is the supermarket checkout line and how uninterested most people are in the tabloids…which used to be glamorous and fascinating back when people who mattered were constantly on the cover. Now, with no real stars in Hollywood left the Star and Enquirer and others are reduced to parading that Kardashian family around every issue…or still talking about Paris Hilton years after her 15 minutes were up…or, worse, picking on poor Lindsay Lohan and driving that troubled girl into an early grave.
If there were real stars left, you’d be hearing all about them…and you would actually CARE to know what was happening with them, the way people used to count the hours until the new issues of Photoplay magazine were delivered back in the days when stars like Liz Taylor or Bette Davis or Joan Crawford were out and about engaged in all their antics.
On my most recent trip to LA I had lunch with a friend who used to be in the movie industry, and we ate in the Roosevelt Hotel right on Hollywood Boulevard just up the street a little from Graumann’s Chinese Theater. I still think it’s fun to go down there when I’m in town…but everything in Hollywood is so very junky. ”Hollywood” that you think of when you hear the world is really just one or two blocks long…and immediately after that it gets filthy and nasty. There are apartments right behind the Chinese theater that rent for around $600 a month…and that’s cheaper than what you’d pay for a similar-sized place in Boystown. Granted, it’s still way more than a place would cost in Cleveland or wherever you might live…but this is HOLLYWOOD, where I expected apartments to be as much as they’d be on Michigan Avenue or elsewhere in the Loop here in Chicago.
The town is like a movie set, with only the part they show you on tee-vee or in films being something to take pictures of or write home about…and the rest of it is just depressing. A block away from the Chinese Theater there’s a Scientology Center, with low-rent male prostitutes grabbing their crotches to indicate how much they charge for an hour (two tugs is $200 and three is $300, in case you need to know this for Jeopardy some day). What a feeling of wasted time and energy it is being in Hollywood and realizing that none of it matters in the least…and that it’s all so base and dirty when the cameras stop rolling.
Being completely honest here, I do miss feeling excited about the Academy Awards. You might think the “High Drinking Holidays” are silly (or even stupid)…and you’d be right…but life is much more fun when you’re celebrating things, particularly the absurd things. I don’t drink and I’m not a big fan of how hard the gay community pushes alcohol…but I do miss being able to enjoy the oddball absurdity of an event like “Oscar Night”. Just about every event in a gay bar is a smaller version of Halloween…and I can’t deny that buff, Speedo-clad “Oscars” up on tables really do make an evening fun, regardless of if you’re sipping Diet Coke or something more Liza Minnelli-inspired. But, Hollywood just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
There is, however, The Tonys…which is still a hoot…and about 90% less pretending to be straight from the male actors in attendance.
© 2013, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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