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Monday 28 March 2022
About halfway through my hatewatching of last night's Oscars telecast, I was planning on writing today about how Dune won 6 Oscars last night despite the fact that I strongly disliked it. Sure, it's well made from a technical standpoint, but it's all in service to the pretentious direction of a very undeserving script with two-dimensional characters in a world with only two colors: brown and browner. To their detriment, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn't ask my opinion about any of that.
Instead, what I am writing about today is Will Smith's battery of Chris Rock live on-stage after the comedian made a joke about Will's wife's short-cropped hair. That was captivating television!
Smith's behavior was not telegraphed. Before walking onstage, he initially appeared to be laughing along with the joke. Thirty seconds later, he was telling Rock to keep his wife's name out of his f-ing mouth. At least I think that's what he said. In their infinite wisdom, ABC chose to keep the cameras rolling but cut the sound. (Despite what we tell children about sticks and stones, in America violence is acceptable but a few choice words are not. Our ears are delicate and need to be defended. Much like Will Smith's wife.)
I did not at the time know that Jada has lost her hair because of alopecia. If Rock knew, I'd agree he made an inexcusably tasteless joke on live television. I'd also agree that's good cause for holding a grudge, but physically slapping the comedian in front of the audience seems a bit over-the-top. Be a professional, Will! That's what backstage is for. (One can only imagine the carnage of Will Smith watching a Don Rickles performance.)
If the Academy Awards was a sporting event and not a movie industry circle-jerk, Smith would have been sent to the locker room for his outburst. Instead he was given the Best Actor award and allowed to demonstrate he deserved it by playing the teary-eyed victim in the solo spotlight. Give that man a second statuette!
Frankly, when first I saw it all, I thought it was staged. I was glad to discover it wasn't, if only because that meant that Rock and Smith hadn't collaborated on creating an artificial Jerry Springer moment just to break up an otherwise dull evening of entitled movie stars delivering political screeds. The Awards could use a little more unscripted drama — though I'd prefer it to be of the sort where Faye Dunaway (rightly) gives away Moonlight's Best Picture award to La La Land. A little genuine spontaneity isn't always such a bad thing.
Speaking of bad things...
38/2047. Dune (2021)