Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscars + Kirby Puckett RIP

Queen LatifahLast night I sat through the Academy Awards, a show that I'd actually said I was going to stop watching a few years ago, after Titanic was named the best picture, but which, like a very powerful magnet, almost always manages to draw me back and keep me watching in a semi-tranquilized state for its entire 3+ hours.

But I was less narcotized than usual by TV, so here're my 10 points of chatter about the spectacle last night:

  1. Crash, a truly awful mess of a movie, beat out Brokeback Mountain and three other superior films;
  2. The Oscar Academy felt it did all it needed to in awarding Ang Lee the Best Director and passed over Brokeback Mountain and its actors in most of the other categories for which they were nominated;
  3. Because Brokeback Mountain is about THE GAY CLOSET and men who don't "despise themselves" as much as it is a "love story" with "universal themes" and appeal blah blah blah, Hollywood heteros and closeted homos were not about to reward it with the top prize;
  4. Host Jon Stewart was pretty funny at points, but overall the show was too subdued (bring back Whoopi Goldberg!);
  5. Until Rachel Weisz and Sandra Bullock appeared on stage it was the parade of the "ethereals," or ABWs (anorexic blonde women), who, if they get any thinner and their hair gets any lighter-colored, that is, grow more ethereal, are going to simply disappear into the ether altogether;
  6. The montage of homoerotic cowboy movie scenes was funny, well done and reminded the Academy of the closet cases and the fact that they picked Crap as the best picture;
  7. The first rap song by Black performers (thanks, Karsh!) to win an Oscar would have to be about, of all things, the vicissitudes of...pimps! Queen Latifah (above, Yahoo! Oscars) did make a humorous comment about the Three 6 Mafia's win, but it's still telling that of all the hiphop original songs and scores for films, this particular one won;
  8. Jon Stewart made a funny joke about the Three 6 Mafia ("Martin Scorcese, zero Oscar, 36 Mafia, 1");
  9. George Clooney, whom I've never been particularly fond of and who fashions himself as a budding liberal activist (he is a decent actor these days, and pretty talented, I'll admit) might not be congratulating Hollywood so fulsomely on its progressiveness if he were to open a film history book and actually read about portrayals of Blacks and other people of color right up to 2006;
  10. Terrence (Dashon? what happened to the "Dashon"?) Howard is starting to show the effects of what Dave Chappelle posited during his recent appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, which is that Hollywood can seriously mess with Black folks' minds (and that's stating what he said in mild terms).
If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Howard's recent transformation, go no further than to Clay Cane's site, where he links to a Black Planet interview he conducted with the self-described "mixed" thespian. My favorite quote from Clay's interview involves Terrence's fanciful--to put it nicely--description of how Hollywood works these days:

"Well, what's beautiful is that they are realizing that there's no such thing as an African American or a white person. Fortunately I am the make-up of everybody, and I'm aware of that; so I carry your power and yours. Most people aren't aware of the power they have so they allow themselves to be categorized."

Which is why he was nominated for playing a BLACK PIMP who gets into HIPHOP, and why his other major role this year was as a humiliated upper-middle-class BLACK MAN. "No such thing," indeed.

C. thought Dolly Parton didn't look so great; I thought that for a woman climbing the upper reaches of life's ladder, she looked fantabulous. A bit Barbiesque in a sort of freakish way, but great nonetheless. But then I thought Madonna looked great on the Grammys, or whichever of the endless parade of award shows plaguing TV these days that I clicked off right after maybe 10 minutes that she appeared on. Actually, Dolly sounded better than she looked, and her song was catchy, certainly more catchy I thought than the pimp song. (The Crash song performance was like something out of a bad horror film, or maybe even a good one, like Michael Haneke's The Time of the Wolf.)

Where are the out lesbian actors in Hollywood? When will we get to see a woman thank her female partner onstage? Yes, Lily Tomlin was out there last night--one of the highlights, her appearance with Meryl Streep--and perhaps I've missed it, but I do keep wondering where the out lesbians in Hollywood are. Where's one of the most high-profile lesbians in Hollywood, Ellen DeGeneres? Are they embargoing her until we get a Democratic president again? Where are the out lesbians of color? (No comments about the woman pictured above, okay?) Every year, I'm glad to say, there's at least one gay man who openly thanks his partner or husband. But I can't remember a woman doing that--or have I just missed it? Also, when will a woman--lesbian, straight, bi, pansexual or otherwise--who's not Lauren Bacall's age eschew a gown and wear a fierce suit onstage? Ellen would certainly do it....

Okay, I have nothing more to add, except that Will Smith did not look as cute as he has in his recent movies, so I'm not sure what was up, and that Jennifer Lopez looked like she's obviously enjoying her sunny stays (life?) down in Miami.


PuckettI learned today that former Minnesota Twins star and Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett (at left, died after suffering a stroke yesterday. The Chicago native was only 45 years old. Puckett had a lifetime .318 batting average and led his team to World Series Championships in 1987 (over the St. Louis Cardinals) and in 1991 (over Atlanta, mainly through his heroics), and garnered acclaim for his swift bat and skill in the outfield. His exuberance and sustained excellence made him a favorite of fans in Minnesota and across both leagues. Puckett had to retire in 1995 after suffering from glaucoma, which blinded him in his right eye, and the forced retirement supposedly devastated him. In 2001 he became the second youngest person ever to be elected to Cooperstown. The 5'8" athlete was always stout though fit during his playing career, but had grown increasingly overweight in recent years, which may have led to further health problems. Baseball fans won't forget his marvelous play and effervescent approach to the game anytime soon.


  1. I heard about Kirby Puckett's death last night -- that's really sad. The Twins should rename the new Metrodome after him (Hell, he brought them the Series win in '87), but that may be unlikely.

    On Terence Howard (sans Deshon)...I'm waiting for his racial/cultural implosion. It's coming in '06...I can feel it!

    Oh, and "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is the second hip-hop song to win an Oscar; Eminem's "Lose Yourself" won back in 2002 (to not much shock, if I remember).

  2. J, you know we have this very antagonistic, comical and healthy debate going on about mainstream films, but I agree with most of your observations on this one, except for the Titanic. Granted, the first hour and a half was just Hollywood, but watching mami wata sink that metallic whale is a great spectical. Sorry. Loved it! 19th century rationalism versus Olokun -- I want a sequel. Hell, in this age, I might live through one.

    Crash -- Ok. It is predictable, but it is meant to speak to a-paint-by-numbers public that feels somewhat vindicated and bigger than themselves when Sandra Bullock's character can be a completely homicidal white woman. She is a post-post modernist Miss Daisy if you ask me. Her character needed a friend and her "coloured" filled the spot without anyone asking how the "coloured" felt about it. Like, wasn't she talking shit to her house servant just a couple of hours before she slipped and busted her ass. I'll stop cause there is more.

    Crash got the big picture award with its imperfect little pictures. It was predictable. It was a CNN afternoon with an Anderson Cooper crying on the lense interpretation saturating the script. Sometimes I just think white folk award themselves for putting things on the screen that are uncomfortable to them, with no credence to the perspective of others.

    Ain't seen Brokeback. Sorry. Will do that soon. Maybe today. The problem is I think I lived Brokeback and a negro is not trying to see dem dare parts over yonder again.

    Catch my drift.

    Hustle & Flow -- Liked the music. Liked the picture. Liked the performance. But Howard againist Hoffman reveals the whole wide world of American arts in its not so gracious gap. A pimp and a poet. One black. One white. What they think about us versus what they think about themselves. Who wins? Hoffman. Of course. Performance was fucking great, but the subject matter makes it a shoe-in (makes me think of Gotham Bookmart)

    Gotta run.


  3. On Monday (3/7) at about 4:45pm I was driving down University Avenue when I heard the inevitability that Kirby would be taken off life support at anytime. I cried when I heard this. As a lifetime Minnesotan Kirby has meant so much to me the last 20 years. As I heard on the radio today he really was a tragic hero. He gave so much, yet was flawed, and he didn't even get the gift of longevity.

  4. I haven't seen any of the nominees but Crash/Crap (first time that's happened to me in years). I agree it is a mish-mash of a film but don't argue with the believability of some of the portraits. The situation of Howard's character facing off with the police actually happened with Howard. Haggis talks about this in the DVD commentary. Howard shared the story with him during filming. Apparently Howard was having a bad day went to an ATM and turned around to find himself surrounded by police looking for black male suspect. It was the last straw and he just went off saying some version of what his character in Crash says, and similarly a cop intervened and diffused the situation. Regarding the rest of his and Newton's characterization, I do believe that there are folks who would not be on the phone to the NAACP or a civil rights attorney. They wouldn't tell the story to you or any other righteous black folks who would rightfully protest. They might not even associate with those folks so as never to have come up against the chafing mirror of their astounded gaze having heard the story and the choice of silence. Some people would be too horrified about being molested or having to admit that they watched their woman be molested or that they were with a man who watched them be molested. Nevertheless, I felt the film was just too forced, great piece for college residential education programming, but shaky as a piece of art. George Clooney, yikes, you nailed that one. Which book would you suggest he read? This puts me in mind of performance artist Damali Ayo's suggestion for a Race Crisis hotline ("help, I'm having a race crisis white ignorance is killing me!) and resource center where you could get a book(s) (e.g. Don't Believe the Hype) so you didn't have to give away time to people that you can't get back correcting their profound ignorance.