Oscars were all awkward performances & endless speeches about ‘diversity’… But then genuine diversity won with brilliant Parasite!
Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo
In 1980, the overwhelming underdog US Men’s Olympic Hockey beat the juggernaut Soviet Union 4-3 in the semifinal game of the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. As a result of this improbable win, dubbed the Miracle on Ice, the rag tag US team went on to win the gold medal.
When the final seconds of the Miracle on Ice ticked down, the play-by-play announcer Al Michaels gave his now iconic call of “Do you believe in miracles?”
It is a shame Al Michaels wasn’t doing the play-by-play for the Oscars last night…as the heavy favorite and presumed winner, 1917, went down hard in defeat to Parasite, not only in the Best Picture race but also in Best Director. Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win Best Picture. Did anyone believe beforehand?Also on rt.com From ‘artificially inseminated cows’ to a John Bolton joke: Oscars 2020 Top 5 cringiest ‘woke' moments
The ironic backdrop of Parasite’s completely unexpected victory is that the Oscar show itself, was a predictably scattershot mess.
The show dragged on for three hours and thirty-one minutes, but it felt twice as long, particularly during Renee Zellweger’s Best Actress acceptance speech. It wouldn't be another miracle if Renee was still talking over at the Dolby theatre right now, rambling on as she named all the people that are heroes in the world…one by one.
The show opened with a very disjointed musical number by singer and actress Janelle Monae, who was pretending to be Mr. Rodgers. Monae had a mild wardrobe malfunction where her blouse was accidentally unbuttoned in front of her breasts and she couldn’t get her coat off and Mr. Rodgers sweater on. Welcome to the Oscars everybody!
After that the evening was chock full of the same politically correct posing and pandering we’ve come to expect from Hollywood on its big night…all of which was greeted with unabashed adoration by the audience in the echo chamber that is the Dolby theatre.Also on rt.com Oscars turns political from get-go as Best Supporting Actor Brad Pitt gives cringe shoutout to Bolton in Trump impeachment trial
A plethora of stars and award winners, including Best Supporting Actor winner Brad Pitt, trotted out a variety of political and social complaints that were all too familiar. Among the buzzwords that made appearances were “representation”, “inclusion” and “diversity,” while self-awareness or genuine reflection in short supply.
Another one of the night’s big topics was women’s issues.
There were proclamations from stars Brie Larson, Gal Gadot and Sigourney Weaver that all women are superheroes, and that it is tiresome and maybe misogynistic for women to have to keep answering the question of “what is it like to be a woman in Hollywood?”
I wonder, would Larson, Gadot and Weaver also complain if no one asked them what it was like to be a woman in Hollywood? And has womanhood really been that millstone round the neck of their careers. I weep for Wonder Woman.
As the evening wore on, the show became more and more unintelligible. Eminem performed a song to pay homage to how songs are used in movies sometimes. Greta Thurnberg showed up in a film clip. Some guy I have never heard of who was dressed like a waiter at a moderately priced suburban restaurant did a rap that summarized the night that we had been watching. A group of foreign women sang some terrible song from Frozen 2 with Idina Menzel for some inexplicable reason. It would be a miracle if any of these things made any sense.
As the night wore on and on and on…things became more and more unhinged. A highlight was Joaquin Phoenix’s entirely expected win for Best Actor, and his acceptance speech was…well…something else.
Phoenix is a weird dude, and his speech fantastically on brand. That is not to say that he didn’t make some valid and profound points.
For instance, Phoenix was the only speaker of the entire evening who had the courage to not tell the Dolby audience what it wanted to hear. In fact, Joaquin took the audience to task and talked about cancel culture and how destructive it is. Between referencing artificially inseminating a cow and stealing its calf and milk, he also said that he and the other people in that room had a tendency to think of themselves as the center of the universe.Also on rt.com Forgive us, cows! Joaquin Phoenix wins Oscar for Best Actor in 'Joker,' goes on passionate woke tirade
Then, after having won earlier for Best Original Screenplay, Bong Joon-ho won for Best Director, and Lake Placid was on my mind.
The Oscars rarely get anything right, but Bong winning Best Director is a shockingly fantastic turn of events, as Parasite is impeccably directed and most worthy.
And then Best Picture was up and I was ready to throw my shoe at the television when the middlebrow 1917 won, but then Parasite was announced, and now I was Al Michaels whipping the audience into a frenzy (in my living room in front of the TV).
And then during Parasite’s producer’s acceptance speech the Dolby Theatre house lights went down and in response the audience chanted for them to be turned back on…and they were! Now anything seemed possible.
After that, Jane Fonda did one pump fake, then another and then another…and then the greatest supernatural event of all occurred and she finally and officially ended the 92nd Oscars. And then I really believed in miracles!
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.