Celebri-spiral™: Enough Already

Our culture is in a celebri-spiral. We're conflicted over our ridiculous, growing celebrity culture consumption via magazines, websites, and TV shows. In 2007, my love/hate conflict made me take to the blog-o-sphere. All writing on this site © Dave Singleton 2009.

Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26, 2007: And the winners are...Lesbians, Queens, Divas, Dictators, Foreigners, and Al Gore

Lesbians, Queens, Divas, Dictators, Foreigners, and Al Gore...was it the Oscars or the next Democratic Convention?

When Melissa Etheridge won best song for her "I Need to Wake Up," from An Inconvenient Truth, I was on my 2nd Red Bull of the evening. I agreed with her, and, in fact, want her to do an entire CD about inconvenience. Include truth, rage, friendships, love affairs, celebri-spirals-all inconvenient at times. But I concur with her song, not just about
America's need to respond to the looming global warming crisis. I need to wake up from celebrity pop culture.

Oscar night 2007. I was conflicted, occasionally investing higher emotions in environmentalism, the fact that an out Lesbian hosted, and sending good vibes to the celebrities I admire. But mostly, I fought the feeling that I've moved on from the unabashed excitement and vicarious spotlight the show once provided. Of course, it's not completely gone. I loved small moments that made stars seem real and "relatable," like Spielberg snapping a photo of Ellen with Clint. Wow, Steven is a real person, who laughs at silly things and knows how to work a digicam. But then I felt like a moron for thinking obvious things like that.

I knew that Cathleen was watching alone at home in New York, and we had plans to text and post live commentary on a Google blog she set up. I knew, too, that our pop culture email group was home watching, ready to send quips at a moment's notice.

Thank God for TIVO, which let me zip through the Red Carpet pre-show at time warp speed. It's an insufferable, sycophantic parade. I watch to see the expressions on stars' faces and hear what they say. I'm tired of pretending that I care what they're wearing, unless it's Cher in a unitard or Bjork dressed like a goose. Occasionally, Beyonce and Helen Mirren caught my eye with their sauntering style, and I noticed Clive Owen and Will Smith looking sharp in their tuxedos.

But mostly, I fast forwarded, especially after Joan Rivers kicked the two-hour ego-a-thon off with a tribute to herself for inventing the red carpet as we know it, much like Al Gore claimed to invent the Internet. You're no Marie Curie, Joan. You are so botoxed, you can hardly squeeze out a few jokes and the five-minute riff on tacky Anna Nicole Smith "jokes" (can't believe you went there) are flatter than your original chest.

My bullshit detector goes off on Cameron Diaz as she’s interviewed. She seems scripted and wants to make it clear why she's there since she wasn't nominated for anything. If you are not nominated, don’t spend thirty minutes talking about how these awards are all about supporting the community. Yeah, they are..when you’re not nominated. As Alan Arkin said, "Losing builds character. Anyone can win.” But I suppose that’s only comforting for nominees. She’s trying way too hard and kicking off my schadenfreude gene. I’m thinking that I’d say the same thing if in her position and that makes it worse. I wouldn’t leave that red carpet until I was 100% sure that every media outlet knew how gracious, selfless, and full of good cheer I was.

I’ll leave the fashion commentary to the fugly girls. No one does it better than them.

Instead, I’m focused on the top ten moments (I love top 10 lists. Read my Grammy Award Top 10 Lessons from 2007) that made me choked up, moved, disgusted. In other words, here’s what made me celebri-spiral during the endless Oscar-thon:

  1. International worldwide talent excites me, but I can't understand what anyone is saying. What's next: subtitles? When Penelope Cruz, Catherine Devenuve, Ken Watanabe and all those Pan Labyrinth winners speak, I feel like Archie Bunker, talking back to the television. Speak English. Bitter Pan’s Labyrinth envy makes me think things like, “those people come here and steal our jobs. Put up a border.” Dave, Dave, Dave. Talent always finds room. Increase the overall pie. Don’t gripe about the size of your slice.
  2. Hearing Ellen, dressed in a series of fancy pants suits and what look like sneakers, comment that “Without blacks, gays, and Jews, there’d be no Oscars,” is a seminal moment. When I was a kid, at first unaware, then later, hiding my gay identity, I projected a lot onto the Oscars. It was a three-hour immersion into glamor, excitement and vicarious overwhelming acceptance, at a time when I had none. But it was all mysterious, unspoken connection. Now, here is Ellen just literally coming out with it. No more closet. No more secret society of gay people. No more need to escape my current environment to immerse in the Oscars?
  3. My entire body recoils when Gwyneth Paltrow struts out on stage as if she’s queen of the world. She slinks, struts, and looks down on the rest of us. Sharon Stone once remarked (paraphrase), “I don’t see how that girl breathes in all that rarefied air she stays in.” Recoil # 2: cuts to her in the audience, looking sullen and spoiled. It's irritating that Gwyneth wants to show us she can speak Spanish, to go with her new Brit accent. I’m clearly having some sort of issue with her this year. But I can’t help it.
  4. My heart swells when Al Gore wins. Seeing Al and Tipper makes me want to turn back time and put them in the White House. I met Tipper during the campaigns and just loved her. Al deserves every bit of good he gets out of his newfound brand leadership of global warming. New rule of Oscar: don’t let Al Gore see you in anything less than a Hybrid, even though (shush), most of them don’t save you a gallon of gas unless you drive a Humvee. Along with everyone else in the room, my attempts at celebri-detachment fail. I am in love with Al Gore tonight.
  5. By the time Jodie Foster leads the dead people tribute, I want to die, too. It’s almost midnight and the red bull has worn off. But I am intrigued by her almost-choked up (it's Jodie. She's not going there; not for Hinckley, not for America, not for you) reference to losing her friend Randy Stone, the producer. I immediately Google to find out that he died suddenly of heart failure at age 48. Hmmm. Married to Barbra Streisand’s sister Roslyn for two years in the 80s. Friend of Jodie. Founder of the brilliant Trevor Project, which I support. Now I am really curious. I hardly give a look to passing images of Jane Wyatt and Peter Boyle.
  6. Seeing Jackie Earle Haley, former child star of The Bad News Bears, freaks me out. He’s my age and I remember being a kid thinking he was cool. His performance as a pedophile in Little Children was brilliant, scary, and oddly moving. But he’s creepy looking. He’s had a long road. It’s a wistful feeling, like seeing a childhood friend who you know just isn’t the same person anymore.
  7. Alan Arkin wins, proving that the old man always has the best shot as Supporting Actor. But my father died earlier this year, so it’s hard to watch his acceptance speech without wishing my Dad had been as funny, porno-watching-overly-earthy, and full of heart as Alan's "Dad" in Little Miss Sunshine. Poor me, dad never trained me for a beauty pageant, shared his porn, or drove me cross country in a VW bus. Oscar shares my pain.
  8. Lesbian intrigue abounds. Ellen, of course, with shots of her mom and girlfriend Porta de Rossi. Melissa thanking her wife Tammi. Jodie Foster, queen of the quiet power lesbians. During the costume awards, I can't help but wonder about Lesbian rumors dogging Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway. Then the winner is announced and my inner dialogue starts (Oh my God, Edith Head lives!!! But she's foreign. At least she's definitely a mannish lesbian. But no, she thanks her husband. I am so confused.) After you think there can be no more lesbians, two more strut out, John Travolta and Queen Latifah. You're the one that I want, indeed.
  9. Sherry Lansing getting the Jean Hersholt Award elicits reluctant admiration. She comes off as Superwoman. But it’s so calculated. So planned. So lacking in any real emotion, from Tom Cruise’s intro, to the film of her good works to her speech. As she walked off the stage, I felt guilty. I really need to volunteer more.
  10. I see dead grandmothers. I see them everywhere. Only they don't know they're dead. I feel like I am onto Jennifer Hudson, who thanked her dead grandmother. When it doubt, steal Jamie Foxx’s speech. I want to tell her to stop faking surprise. You have won 23 awards. It may be a blessing (favorite word # 1), but it’s not a surprise (favorite word # 2). I don't buy her ingenuity anymore. Watching her sing Beyonce's song Listen made me defensive of Beyonce/Deena; it was like seeing parallel universe Effie White as perpetrator, not victim. I wanted to hear Beyonce scream, "Listen, my ass. I. Am. Irreplaceable. And. You. Don't. Know. About. Me."


Blogger Shane Harris said...

I agree with you on Jennifer Hudson and the surprise issue. If she genuinely wasn't expecting to win, I wish that she had some competent advisors to tell her, "Listen, you're fucking winning, ok, so come up with a speech." I also thought it was lame that she didn't seem to understand how to exit the stage. Look for the big part in the curtain with all the people taking your picture, sweetie.

But for me, the real sadness in her win was being reminded once again why she got kicked off American Idol--she's really not that good a singer. I haven't seen Dream Girls, but I've seen the nominable clips, and she's really not anything special. Was she really acting in this film, or just reenacting her Idol experience? At any rate, Beyonce fully kicked her ass when they sang together, reminding the crowd what a truly gifted singer sounds like as opposed to just a decent one. There was an air of inevitability about Hudson this year that I just don't like. Oscar loves a shoe-in, though. Jennifer fit the narrative, even if she didn't fit into her dress or her role.

Monday, February 26, 2007 2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love that you Googled Randy Stone too...AV and I did the same thing. We remembered Randy as Jodie's frequent 90's date and rumored babydaddy/sperm donor of Charlie and Kit Foster, so I was shocked he had died. That was the big surprise of the evening as far as I was concerned...even more so than the Arkin thing.

JenH did seem a tad oafish last night as she exited the stage--why oh why did she not wait for George Clooney to escort her backstage...he was eating her dust. I think she is genuine though and the reason she keeps saying she is "surprised", etc., is because someone told her to use that line to collect her thoughts. She's not savvy enough yet to think under pressure. I can't go there with you guys on Beyonce though--she's harmless, but I believe her talent is limited. Have you ever seen her dance in her music videos? Talk about an oaf...

And back to Gwynnie...I'll give it to you, she was over the top with her superiority last night. She was utterly humorless when Ellen was pulling the vaccuuming gag right in front of her. She sat there with a rather pained look and refused to play along. However, she is still a goddess...flawlessly beautiful, luminous...

Monday, February 26, 2007 2:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gwynnie is SOOOOO not a goddess. A priviledged brat from the Upper East Side...

Monday, February 26, 2007 2:53:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's amazing ow many people hate on the Paltrow...my brother had drinks with her once and all he had to say was that she had a wide ass. Still love her...

Monday, February 26, 2007 3:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

totally agree re: hudson who only deserves a best acting nod for pretending to be humble as she accepted her oscar. you knew god would be first on her list. and i noticed that about george too! um hello GEORGE CLOONEY is trying to talk to you WHO THE HELL YOU THINK YOU ARE GIRL??
i was not digging gwyn's look at all. there were a lot of strange dress choices. only standouts i thought were kate winslet, cate blanchett, penelope cruz and reese.

Monday, February 26, 2007 6:42:00 PM  
Blogger Cathleen Rittereiser said...

I have been predicting for weeks now that Simon Cowell will have the last laugh. Jennifer Hudson is the Haing S. Ngor of the the 2007 Oscars. Who I just creepily learned died on February 25th 1996. 11 years to the day later Jennifer Hudson takes his place as a "One Hit Wonder" Oscar winner. Or more precisely, the "Never-Acted, Playing Self, Inspirational Gimmick" win. The most classic example: Harold Russell. From his IMDB entry: "He lost both hands. After receiving hooks he was chosen to make an Army training film. William Wyler saw the film and decided to change a character in his film "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) from a spastic to a double amputee. (Editor's Note: Where's Corky when you need him?) For this role he received 2 Oscars, a Best Supporting and one for being an inspiration to all returning veterans. He is the only actor to receive 2 Oscars for the same role." For the full story--http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0751174/bio.

Of course Jennifer Hudson was inevitable and the only other inevitable thing after this is obscurity. You should thank the Oscar gods they don't give out Oscars for inspiring failed American Idol contestants. Trust me, Bill Condon should have been standing right there with her because my money says he coached every move of that performance. I feel Simon smirking...

As for people that apparently got some coaching, hats off to Forrest Whittaker for dropping the "Mumbling Shocked Guy" persona (maybe he was just doing that to convince Oscar voters how good he really was as a Ugandan tyrant)and embracing his inner Bill Clinton. His speech was thoughtful, appropriate, heartfelt and classy.

Speaking of people that think they're classy, Gwynnie is in a class by herself. Here is my curse on Gwynnie: May you one day be fatter than Al Gore.

Al might be afraid of global warming but someone needs to stick him in a sauna for a few months. Or put him to work building the fence between the US and Mexico so we stop losing all those directing jobs and Oscars to cheap Mexican imports.

Finally, Dave thank you for googling Randy Stone. However I had to re-google him myself to answer the question that Suzanne answered for us. "Is he that cute guy that always went to the Oscars with her?" Thank you Suzanne.

And thank you Dave, for not stealing all my good NAFTA and F Troop jokes.

Monday, February 26, 2007 6:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cathleen Rittereiser said...

PS. I liked my work so much that I posted it on my own blog. www.comedylegend.blogspot.com

PPS: Adios Randy Stone

Monday, February 26, 2007 7:01:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa G said...

In an attempt to address my own celebri-spiral issues, I didn't watch the Oscars. I;ve been so wound up since this Britney thing (sorry, Anna Nicole, but I was never into you enough even to quit you) that the thought of the red carpet and all those gowns and jokes and gaffes and interviews and winner-suspense gave me an anxiety attack. This morning I went to the doctor and got a verbal review from the receptionist, who highlighted: 1) Jack's bald head ("when it's over, it's over, and he knew it was over"), 2) Diane Keaton's outfit ("that woman is top shelf!", 3) J.Hud's cleavage ("I don't like all that hanging out like that." And that was pretty much it. I felt I had heard all I needed to hear, but I asked if Beyonce looked like she was about to cut a bitch in a jealous rage. She said no. I speculated that if Beyonce did not appear jealous, then perhaps she is a better actress than we have all given her credit for.

I believe I will pledge here and now not to watch the Oscars again unless it is in person, when I am required to be there for my nomination for best original screenplay. When I win, I promise not to mention being "surprised" or "blessed," and I will pay close attention to how to exit the stage (i.e., by hopping on George Clooney's back and letting him carry me off ... or fainting in his arms, whichever comes first. Either way, I ride out on the Clooney.) I also promise not to sing. I MIGHT do a little celebratory two-step, but that will be it.

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beyonce put all her rage into her song Listen and then Jennifer Pigson has to start singing that too. Effie, shut the fuck up. Put your balloon titties back into their box and go thank God for your surprise blessings on your own damn time. Beyonce, cut a bitch if you need to. We are here for you, girl.

Go Helen Mirren. Ya got a nice rack for an old broad. Use it much?

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:40:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa G said...

I watched JHud and B on youtube (..and the celebrispiral continues ....). Their singing was kind of painful on both sides. Beyonce was a little more polished overall. (She has a lot more performing experience, let's remember.) Was the Hud nervous? I'm not a singing expert but she sounded all over the place. I was rooting for her, being the underdog, but Beyonce unquestionably hit it out the park when she started tossing the weave around at the end of Listen. Valuable Performance Lesson: Done correctly, a tossed weave can make up for a great deal of vocal mediocrity.

Frankly it seemed Beyonce just loved her little song and was trying to sing her heart like she was on Star Search. Whereas J Hud was somehow bold and blah at the same time. And sort of seeming like she was ignoring Beyonce. Man. Just when I expect B to throw down, she comes out with the "girl, I can see you been cryin and needin somebody to talk to" thing. (Although.. the "sing it, girl," seemed a little over-orchestrated, but whatevs.)

I also agree that J Hud really could have crossed her heart for more support up there.

Beyonce and GPal had the same hair on the red carpet. I hope they are not going to become the blonde/brunette biracial BFF couple of the millenium. Beyonce, please stay away from her. Remember that Kelly Rowland is your real friend, because she is the one who never defied you enough to be kicked out of Destiny's Child. G.Pal will turn on you, guaranteed. She will tell you she's Hollywood royalty, but she is in truth a blonde-extensioned crone. You already know how to rock fake hair. You don't need her.

Monday, February 26, 2007 9:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cathleen Rittereiser said...

My favorite fashion moment, when Eddie Murphy's date, "Ought to be Wary" Spice was asked what designer she was wearing.

"At-lee-ay Versace"

Now I'm pronouncing Atelier that way.

Monday, February 26, 2007 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all idiots. Does she call Gucci "cuchi" and Badgely Mischka "Badly Messup?"

Monday, February 26, 2007 10:30:00 PM  

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