– Sheila, in a great roundup, describes Kate Winslet as “scrum-diddlyumptious”. I do not disagree.
– Jeff Jarvis of course plays the censorship card, even sharing the script of a bit Robin Williams was supposed to before it was cut out by nervous producers.
– People are generally bashing Rock, with the exception of praising the Magic Johnson Theaters bit. I thought he was decent, but the show’s squeamishness about off-color/”offensive” material didn’t play to his strengths, and I’m guessing there were tons of bits he wanted to do but wasn’t allowed (Tom Shales, inexplicably, calls the routine “mean-spirited”; my problem is that it wasn’t mean-spirited enough.)
– But the more I think about the Magic Johnson bit, the less I like it- just as the Jay Leno “jaywalking” segments are clearly edited to make it look like everyone he talked to is an idiot, the Oscar editors obviously omitted every black person who said they’d seen “Sideways” but not “White Chicks”- and as a result, the bit served to buttress the generally offensive notion that black people only like dumb movies.
– Seems like people are more angry at Sean Penn for defending Jude Law than they were at him for going to Baghdad. So he’s humorless- there are worse things a guy can be.
– But others, alas, are angry for no apparent reason. Like New Republic TV critic Lee Siegel, for instance. Now there’s a gap in talent between Siegel and every other New Republic writer that’s about the size of the Grand Canyon- in a lineup of A-Rods, Jeters, and Sheffields, he’s Miguel Cairo. Siegel widens it even further with an appalling rant about the Oscars that imbues racism onto Hollywood for… having a black host and giving the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor to black actors. Huh?
Siegel’s stupid, nonsensical piece finds outrage where none exists, while finding meaning in such non-profundities as Al Pacino’s introduction of Sidney Lumet (while the consensus among most observers was that Pacino was drunk and/or high). Then he rips Hollywood for being “out of touch with mainstream America,” as though being “in touch” is part of their job description.
Then there’s this paragraph, possibly the worst to appear in TNR in its 90-year history:
This was Negro night at the Oscars, and I use the old offensive epithet because Hollywood is, in this sense, still the old offensive place. Oh I don’t mean because Hollywood is liberal. In this political climate, if the Communist Party sought to resurrect itself by infiltrating the studios and lacing movie scripts with subtle calls for revolution, I’d send it $50. No, something else is going on out there.
I wish Siegel would send that $50- that way Peter “A Fighting Faith” Beinart could start a “purge” of his own, and fire him.
Next Siegel calls celebrities “a third race,” as if to say that Rock, Jamie Foxx, and Morgan Freeman don’t count as black because they’re famous. Then he attacks Foxx as a “mediocrity,” and bashes him for playing “a blind and dead musician [who] is no threat to anyone.” This is an insult both to Ray Charles- one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century- and to Foxx. Since when are black actors required to play someone threatening in order to win recognition? Because when Denzel Washington won an Oscar for playing a thuggish rogue cop in “Training Day,” critics such as Armond White went apeshit, calling the role a racist caricature. Even Jadakiss agreed, asking “Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get a Oscar/Why Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?”
I’ll move past his chastising of Tim Robbins for not going off script to bash the war in Iraq; after this comes his extolling of the blotto Pacino, which Siegel compares- favorably- to “Brando refusing to accept his Oscar in protest against the government’s treatment of the Indians.” Funny- I thought that was generally considered the first sign that Brando was losing his mind.
And as a not-so-grand finale, Siegel slams as “debased” the Robert DeNiro American Express commercial –you know, the one that debuted six months ago– because it’s a commercial. Oh no, we can’t have that. I don’t know what’s weaker, that Siegel, presumably an adult, has yet to accept that television programs require advertising, or that this professional TV critic didn’t recognize the commercial that most of us have seen hundreds of times. Pathetic.
And no, I’m not the first to bash this terrible, terrible, writer. Andrew Sullivan named him as “Poseur of the Year” in ’03.
– And finally, the mini-hubbub over the “Motorcycle Diaries” song reminded me of one of my favorite exchanges of last year’s presidential campaign. The night of the first debate, I was at a bar with a bunch of other bloggers, including the bloggers/performance artists known as Communists For Kerry. I was talking to one of them and asked if they had gone to see the Che movie. When they said no, I suggested it might be a fun field trip, especially if they all showed up at a showing in full costume, preferably to a theater on the Upper West Side or in the East Village.
“The only way I’ll see a movie about Che,” one of them said, “is if they show him with his cock in Castro’s hand.”
“If that’s what you’re looking for,” I said, “there’s a movie you ought to check out, it’s called ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien.”