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I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Back to Our Regular Programming: Oscar Edition

As I watched the Oscars last night, sitting on the couch surrounded by a pile of student essays that I graded while the television was muted during commercials and technical categories, I was struck by several things:

1. Sarah Jessica Parker's hair. That sort of bird's-nesty halo of frizzy escaped hair I get when I've had my ponytail in too long and have been pulling my knit cap on and off? SJP's stylist pulled a mean one on her by giving her that effect on purpose. Go Fug Yourself focused mostly on her weird-looking and unflattering dress, but I think the hair was what really killed her look. I know the "messy ponytail" and the "messy bun" are popular looks that have attained a status worthy of formal events, but the "Audrey-Hepburnesque bun that looks like it's been worn under a ski cap then slept on" might be taking the carefully-crafted-casual-hairstyle thing too far.

2. Sandra Bullock's speech. Maybe she deserved to win. I can't really say, because I haven't seen The Blind Side (though it's hard to believe that her performance in that was truly superior to those of all of her heavy-hitting co-nominees). And I liked the fact that she gave props to the real family the film was based on, and adoptive and foster moms all over the world. But I couldn't decide what I thought of her sapphic inside-joking with Meryl Streep. When she called Streep "a great kisser," I was amused and appreciative. But when she ended her speech by wrapping up her list of people to thank by adding "my lover, Meryl Streep," I got kind of weirded out. I was trying to figure out why, and it struck me that it reminded me a little of the way my adolescent male students sometimes engage in exaggerated homoerotic behavior as a form of joking clearly intended to distance themselves from any possibility that they could be gay. Would Bullock's quips about Streep have been funny if she weren't firmly established as a straight, femme woman? Was it lighthearted pro-gay quipping or subtly homophobic? I'm not sure, but it struck me as really weird.

3. Helen Reddy? Really? I was excited when Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for The Hurt Locker, only partly because Bigelow is the first woman in the history of the academy to win this high honor (beating out her ex, big boy James Cameron). But when the orchestra began to play an instrumental version of Helen Reddy's pro-feminist AM radio anthem "I Am Woman," I just about hurled chunks all over the couch and my students' papers. As I writhed and kvetched about this cheesy choice ("I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore..."), my Old Man paused in folding the laundry to observe that it was tantamount to the academy playing "We Shall Overcome" a few years back when Denzel Washington became the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Except as lame and insulting as that would have been (cementing the "Hey look at us, aren't we progressive for finally fucking getting around to acknowledging the talent of black actors?" vibe that was already implicit in the awards that year), at least "We Shall Overcome" is still a powerful song that we all take seriously. While "I Am Woman" is just funny, and can only be palatable when deployed with a huge dash of camp. Helen Reddy was a goddess, as Uncle Bonsai so eloquently reminded us, but come on! That song is about as dated as "Harper Valley PTA". Not that a more tasteful and contemporary paean to the power of Woman would be appropriate, either. Nobody else gets special "identity politics" music as they leave the stage.

And that's the way it was on Oscar night here at the Oral Hygiene homestead.

3 Comments:

Blogger Orange said...

Someone on the internet said SJP's hair was reminiscent of Gary Oldman's Dracula coif.

You know why this was Sandra Bullock's first Oscar nomination? Because nothing she ever did before was remotely Oscar-worthy!

She did include sexual orientation in the list of things her mom taught her didn't make a person better or worse than another (along with race and...I forget what else). So I'll go with pro-gay quipping.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous DoctorMama said...

It's SJP's makeup that freaks me out.

Sandra Bullock was terrific in The Thing Called Love. Long time ago, though.

8:45 AM  
Blogger tree said...

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12:33 AM  

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