How do the Hillary-Geffen-Obama feud, the nonstop coverage of Anna Nicole and Bald Britney, and the utter tedium of the Oscar’s coverage, all relate to each other? Bear with me — I have three interrelated plots going here, sort of like last year’s Oscar-winner Crash and this year’s Oscar-loser Babel.
The answer struck me two hours into the Oscar snooze-fest, right around the time Ellen DeGeneres was getting half-a-laugh for asking Steven Spielberg to take another picture of her with Clint Eastwood. (Whooey! Oscar winners take lousy pics with their cell phones. They’re JUST LIKE us!) What struck me was how incredibly hard the superstars were trying to be bland and uncontroversial and ordinary this year, and how that’s not the way we want them — and how that’s not the way the media seem to want our politicians.
Ellen DeGeneres, in her reddish velour pantsuit, which looked exactly like it was bought from a catalog and not very different from a mistake or two most women have in their closets, was acting so daytime television, with her gulps and exclamations of how excited she was to be there. She seemed to be vying for the senior class’s “Good Sport” award. And Al Gore — who, at the very least, might have been irritating — was just swollen with good intentions.
The pre-programs touting the Oscars, both Oprah’s and Barbara Walters’s, were super bland, too. On Oprah’s show, George Clooney was “interviewed,” with softball questions tossed at him by his pal Julia Roberts. They discussed her pregnancy and how she loves being a mom, while he barbecued lunch for her. Another “Just Like Us!” moment. Only surprise: on the Oprah show Clooney’s hair was gray, at the Oscars it was dark again. Well, L’Oreal was a major sponsor.
After all those dull speeches that many of the winners had to read from bits of paper they brought along, I really began to look forward to the results of Danielynn’s DNA test. Sure, some of the gowns were nice enough, and Helen Mirren is terrific, but even she gave almost the same speech she has given several times before in recent weeks, as she stockpiled awards. And why did she carry her purse on stage? Was that a sly tribute to the Queen, who seems never to be without her handbag ? Nope, she said it was just a bit of awkwardness, something any of us could have done when accepting a very-expected Academy Award.