John, apparently Hollywood also is afraid it's losing viewers. My wife tells me that earlier in the show someone made a distinct plea to viewers to watch their movies at the Multiplexes or Multisexes or whatever they're called these days instead of on DVD at home, where the popcorn is cheaper and less soggy. So far as I can tell the Academy split the difference, conferring the best-supporting actor awards to "cause" roles while saving the main acting prizes for two genuinely likable and appealing actors. For Reese Witherspoon to win over a major portrait of tranvestiture, in what for her was really a very slight role that allowed her to do little more than sing like an angel and go through a charming paces the rest of the way, is a huge Hollywood copout. So too is its choosing some nonsense named Crash -- does the 1996 movie of the same name (in which a couple get their kicks watching cars collide) get to share in this best movie prize? -- over the greatest male bonding film of the 21st century is an ultimate instance of chickening out. It won't do that Ang Lee was given a consolation prize for best director.
The Spectacle Blog
It's hard to believe that the Best Picture of the year was really Crash, a series of vignettes of wildly varying quality that, as Matt Welch points out, takes place in an LA that doesn't exist. There's a whiff of Brokeback Mountain backlash in the choice: I must admit that part of the reason I haven't seen Brokeback, thought to be the frontrunner, is that it seemed pitched as an eat-your-vegetables movie (see this if you're tolerant!). Maybe Academy members had the same reaction.
Other notable things about the ceremony: The word "Bush" was never mentioned. Jesus was thanked -- by "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" songsters Three Six Mafia. The Stephen Colbert-narrated "attack ads" were good for a laugh; so was Clooney's acceptance speech (being "proud to be out of touch" implies an indifference to selling tickets, which the star of Ocean's 12 plainly does not have). And the suicide bomber movie lost (Go Tsotsi!).
Quin: Many thanks. I have no concreted prejudice against spec ops guys for that job (some of my best friends are...) But they are used to moving quick and light. Maybe D'OHS needs a heavy forces guy at the top and a spec ops type as deputy?
Meanwhile - watching the incredibly boring Oscars - I'm wondering if Jon Stewart is usually this bad. He's not dying up there, he's dead. Frozen with stage fright? I don't know, but isn't there someone in that crowd who could slip him a Prozac? Be merciful, people.
Jed -- Re your call for a senior command guy to head Homeland Security, that fits what I meant to say when I said this: somebody with actual manpower-organization experience, somebody who actually has dealt with big mobilizations in times of crisis. The next thought I had, when I started to bring in special ops, got interrupted by a fire alarm. To be clear, I agree with every word you wrote here:
Quin: If Chertoff gets the boot, which he should, there should be a housecleaning. Removing him isn't enough. And his replacement shouldn't be a spec ops guy. The whole idea is to get someone who can plan things on a large scale or small, is used to thinking in C3I terms -- command, communications and intelligence -- and has real operational experience in senior command levels. Time to separate the staff weenies and academics from the TACAMO crew. Take charge and move out, people. Posted By: Jed Babbin
I don't have too much punditry to add to the particulars of tonight's Oscars, but here's a column I wrote on the cult of Jon Stewart last year and another one on how silly it is to get worked up over the Academy Awards. I will say, however, the one Best Picture contender I saw, Crash, was just about the most ham-handed bit of pseudo-sociological foolishness I've ever seen; truly xenophobic in its paranoid vision of America as the ultimate racist society. Therefore, I believe Brokeback Mountain can and will be upset. Carry on.
The AP reports on Moqtada al Sadr's latest moves in the pursuit of Iraqi nationalism:
"Extinguish the flames of the sectarian treachery," said the followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and members of the Sunni Endowment, a government agency responsible for Sunni mosques and shrines. "Every drop of blood shed is a waste."
Just so. Why would a package of lies benefit al Sadr more than this basic truth? His support has gone in the past to Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari. But now the PM appears as an obstacle to unity, and al Sadr has shown a consistent willingness to compromise in order to maintain and consolidate political power. My suspicion remains that the power he desires is that independent of Iran. Add to that an intuition that al Sadr will let his support for al Jaafari slip -- and that his profile will continue to rise as a force for anti-sectarianism.
Words to watch for from an Oscar source re tonight's major acceptance speeches. Count who thanks his/her mom, who thanks his/her Dad, who thanks God Almighty. Since 1992, of the 42 major waward speeches (actor, actress, movie) only five actresses have thanked mom, one actor has thanked mom, none have thanked dad alone, only one has thanked God -- Mr. Gibson.
Also, words used only once in all the speeches include "Holocaust," "uxoriousness," "WMD."
He sat down with Chris Wallace this morning on Fox News Sunday. I won't get into the he said/she said business of this. But does anyone else notice that Michael Brown's qualifications aren't even a matter of discussion anymore? Wallace is a tough interviewer, so he's not softballing Brown. The total disappearance of this matter shows how disingenuous that charge was: now that Brown's opposing the White House on the Katrina response, he's a respected expert.