I manage to miss the Oscars every year. The fact that I can go years without seeing a first run film in an actual meat-space theatre is part of it, but more often I just get lost in the temporal miasma ™ and miss the show. Par example, this year the darling spouse and I were immersed in a re-reading of “The Lord of the Rings” and racing to Rohan when one of us tripped on an orc helmet, came up for air and consulted the computing oracle about the time of the Awards show. We had missed it. Welcome to life at the Imperial Chateau, when the epic ruminations of a linguistics professor on paper between covers supersedes the lure of the Red Carpet on the Boob Tube. And speaking of boobs…
However! because I am never far from social media, bits and pieces of the show quickly came washing up on my shores. Soon I was watching tiny snippets and reading commentary, and grinding my teeth ever so softly. One of my favourite opinions was that of The Vulture who nailed it in a phrase I would have killed to have written: “This wasn’t an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.”
I had wondered about Seth MacFarlane as host – if you are not familiar with his work, a glance at the faintly surreal and giddily vulgar Fox cartoon show, “Family Guy” (and no, I will not provide an url – if you aren’t familiar with his oeuvre, you’re going to have to make your own fingers do the work this time) will assure one that this is a fellow with his meathooks firmly positioned on the more prurient pulsebeats of our culture. It might have been interesting to be a fruitfly on the wall to hear the brainstorming at the meeting that decided this year’s Oscar host: “Let’s go totally taste-free this year – that will surely give us the hipster edginess that is so de rigeur this season! Or at least some bad boy sassiness – sassy is still good, yes?”
Unsurprisingly, in many of his jokes and quips MacFarlane would actually have had to aim higher to hit sophomoric, but especially in his musical “tribute” to “boobs,” the glaring problem that Hollywood – and by extension, popular culture –continues to roll in was splashed across America’s screens of many sizes, leaving a faintly oily trace of unease. The slavering adolescent redolence of the production number “We Saw Your Boobs” (and I am so sorry the L.A. Gay Men’s Chorus got roped into it too) highlighted how despite all the forward progress of feminism in recent years, women are still The Other. The fact that several of the instances cited in the song when the viewer “saw your boobs,” were not happy or proud times for the owners of those articles (in movies and real life – aside from citing movies in which rape and murder occurred, did the real life invasion of Scarlett Johansen’s privacy really need to be incorporated in this cavalcade of breast mauling?) would indicate that Treehouse of Male Privilege still prefers to drool at the chest level rather than talk to the person the rack is attached to.
In the vaguely soiled afterglow, many people (I’m looking at you, Onion, and no, I’m not going to share that particularly icky squib either) had the decency to shuffle their feet in shame at the sexualisation of a nine year old girl, but the bigger picture glowers over us all. People of the female persuasion are still “out there,” something frightening and different that can only be handled by ignoring their actual achievements in favour of critiquing their gowns. Or boob viewing. Women mostly still get Oscars and recognition for their bodies (and what’s on them) rather than their body of work.
Although the jokes and quips were more blatant this year, the fact is that the awards themselves still treat men as “regular” and women as something else
And not just at the Oscars. We need a better, more inclusive, Treehouse.
How we amuse ourselves reflects as much about each of us – and the culture in which we wallow – as anything more “serious.”
As the proud possessor of both a set of breasts and a brain I’m fond of exercising, I’ll be gnawing this bone in future blogosheric forays.