Steve Martin is a good man. A sardonic "nice to see they cancled all the glitz," the line that leads off the show. After all the talk of restraint and no red carpet, it was tits and tans and shiny stuff everywhere. But that's Hollywood. (Sincerely) "I just want you to know, the proceeds from tonight's events will be split up and shared amongst several enormous corperations." Genius. This man has wit to spare.
All the chesty women with healthy looking arms and backs were a welcome sight, making the willowy wisps that traditionally dominate the scene look positively twiggy. Perhaps bulimia is finally going out of fashion. Fertility is in, a victory for life. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
In spite of a more or less unspoken moratorium on politicizing the event, there were inevitable references to global events. Two ABC news updates on the war didn't help the suspension of disbelief. Hardly a segment went by where one wasn't reminded as to the context in which this very American ritual was unfolding.
In all the statements made, I was reminded again of the difference between artistic and bare-knuckle politics. Michal Moore -- who I was happy to see win for Bowling for Columbine, though I'm not sure it was a "documentary" in the traditional sense -- made some heavy-handed statements that seemed hokey and rehearsed. Got booed for it too, even if he was more or less telling the truth. The atmosphere in the room reminded me of yesterday at the protest when I saw a man pick up some sticks and prepare to fling them at the cops. A chorus of, "no!"s arose from the crowd, and he was physically restrained from completing his act.
Moore's comments seemed similarly pointless and confrontational given the context, and while there's a wide gulf between tossing sticks at police officers and calling Bush's election fictional, at this juncture they serve about as much purpose. Had he bothered to work his way around to it artfully it might have gone over, but his language was that of a protest rally, not an acceptance speech. It was a disingenuous use of the platform, and as such it suffered.
On the other hand, Adrien Brody, Best Actor of The Piano, pulled off some kind of king hell trifecta; winning the Oscar, kissing Hallie Berry full on the mouth, and then running long in his acceptance and shuting up the orchestra to deliver a spontanious and deeply honest statement wishing for peace and safety to all in Iraq. Standing ovations all around, a clear expression of what needed saying in the way it aught to be said under the circumstances. It was for me the high point of the proceedings. There's video popping up here (currently you can review Moore, but not Brody).
Sarandon scored points in my book as well for flashing a peace sign and then seductively and poetically invoking the necessity of art as a transformative force. Many others made nudge-nudge wink-wink statements against war, or at least in support of peace.
Finally, Peter O'Toole reminded me that spoken language is fast becoming a lost art in this country. Not only are we a nation which cannot listen, we are fast becoming a nation that fails too at articulation. We have little enough of worth to say it seems, and are forgetting even how to say it, how to form the syllables, in the words of the Bard to "Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue." Sad bit, that.