I valiantly tried to avoid the Oscars, because that’s what sensible people do. Why force myself to watch millionaires award themselves fake prizes after a nonsensical campaign period that favors the politically connected over the popular, only to be randomly lectured on my of compassion for the downtrodden they haven’t seen since they realized they were unqualified for any job that required real thought when I already get enough of that covering politics every day?
I do it, America, because I care. And because, at least, the people are prettier. In theory. Aaron Schock excepted, probably.
At any rate, last night, America was subjected to the five long hours of The Oscars, the last in a series of Hollywood events that coddle the fragile egos of our entertainers, lest they realize that we could easily live without them, if only we brought back traveling circus freak shows. Circus freaks are, after all, a genial bunch, and the miserable collection of Hollywood elite are only happy when gifted a golden statuette for their “brave” and “uncompromising” performance as an ugly person with real problems.
Last night’s event was no exception, as stars flooded a red carpet on a drizzly Los Angeles afternoon in borrowed finery, speaking with bored-looking entertainment reporters about their latest project and their selected designer. Lupita Nyong’o looked stunning in a white Calvin Klein dress covered in pearls and weighing more than Ryan Seacrest. Emma Stone was ravishing in a long-sleeved green gown that highlighted her red hair. Rosamund Pike, who may in fact be cardboard, tacked on a red Armani number and, for once in her long red carpet history, failed to look like she was headlining the prom at Starfleet Academy. There were failures, of course. Jennifer Aniston arrived at the Oscars in a gown inspired by those sheer Band-Aids they say camouflage into your skin but really don’t. Gwyneth Paltrow, who still comes to these things despite reaching the point in her career where she’s a supporting actress for Johnny Depp’s fake mustache, premiered what will certainly be her next GOOP.com exclusive: a shoulder flower that can grow limbs on command. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw showed up dressed as Frank and Claire Underwood from the hit Netflix series, House of Cards, perfecting everything, right down to Faith’s vacant, dead-eyed stare. Lady Gaga — who went on to perform a stunning tribute to The Sound of Music that proved she could be a great entertainer if only she ditched the Lyrcra nun costumes — decided to also show up her peers by appearing ready to pitch in with the Oscars’ kitchen staff. Solange Knowles, the lesser known sister of Beyoncé — rounded out the top in a couture bedsheet, and Scarlett Johansson ruined an Atelier Versace number with a green choker that looked to be growing out of her jugular, clearly a plea to switch teams to DC Comics, where she’ll star as a particularly overcoiffed Poison Ivy in the inevitable Zach Snyder stand-alone vehicle.
But, apparently, according to Reese Witherspoon and Lena Dunham, who was, thankfully, watching the Oscars at home and not where she could harm anyone’s retinas with yet another badly tailored Zac Posen, we’re not supposed to talk about any of that, as asking women what they’re wearing, a decision that requires weeks worth of planning and thought and a team of at least two assistants, is sexist and demeaning because men aren’t asked similar questions about the tuxedos they rented and saw for the first time an hour before calling the limo. The #AskHerMore campaign aimed to provide women on the red carpet a way to talk about upcoming vanity projects and not just their present vanity, but fumbled, mostly because we only ask what they’re wearing because we have to. If they carried little signs with the designer’s names, we’d never have to speak to them at all. Oh, what a world that could be.
While we may have been blissfully spared banal chatter from celebrities on the red carpet, we were not so lucky during the show itself. Despite Neil Patrick Harris’s best efforts to overcome his writers and effectively display his family jewels in tight undies, the Oscars lingered laboriously on. And on. And on. J.K. Simmons won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Whiplash, and went from being That Guy Who Is In Everything to Oscar Winner That Guy Who Is In Everything. Eddie Redmayne defied expectations to take home the Best Actor award for his role as physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Julianne Moore took home the Best Actress award for her role in Still Alice, a film about early-onset Alzheimer’s, and Patricia Arquette nabbed a Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in Boyhood. Ms. Arquette, who has a net worth of approximately $24 million and will star in the next cyber-focused iteration of CSI, used her acceptance speech to demand “pay equity” for women, who, despite Ms. Arquette’s best efforts at doing nothing to actually solve any of the world’s problems, do not actually face a mathematical wage gap. Of course, one cannot expect Ms. Arquette, Meryl Streep, and Jennifer Lopez (both of whom cheered Ms. Arquette on) to read much, or, for that matter, to recognize the inherent irony of standing on a stage, on a television show watched by millions, giving an acceptance speech for a golden trophy, in a thousand-dollar dress and hundred-thousand-dollar jewelry, for a role in a multi-million-dollar project, for which she was, of course, given a healthy paycheck, lecturing the people of middle America on what they should believe about income disparity. Frankly, I for one do support Ms. Arquette’s call for income equality, provided I can have income equality with, say, Ms. Arquette.
The night had other awards: Birdman beat out Boyhood for Best Director and Best Picture. John Legend and Common took home an award for “Glory,” their song for the movie Selma, and, of course, made comments about the state of race relations in America, probably best illustrated by Hollywood’s refusal to nominate any black actors or actresses for awards. Common, for his part, will use his notoriety to move the ball forward on diversity, mostly by hosting a show on Spike TV where hipsters make furniture out of reclaimed materials. And Sean Penn rounded out the night by attempting to make a joke about green cards that just ended up offending everyone who was not already offended that the Academy keeps inviting Sean Penn.
And so, with a tear and a wave, we bid goodbye to 2015’s awards season. But fear not, America. I’m certain that next year, Hollywood will resurface better than ever, and well prepared to hand out awards to a bunch of movies that no one bothered to see, but everyone read the Wikipedia synopsis of so that they could pretend to be more worldy at cocktail parties. On to 2015, friends. May the best man win. And may the best woman complain about it.
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