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Monday, February 28, 2005

Spontaneity Takes a Powder

Much to my amazement, every winner last night of the major Oscar award categories was exactly the person or film for which I would have voted were I a member of the Academy. I don't think that's ever happened before. Either I'm becoming clairvoyant, or the Academy is becoming more discerning and astute in its selections.

Hilary Swank for Empress of Everything!

I do have a complaint, however. The ceremonies keep becoming more tightly managed. Real spontaneity is a thing of the past. They're just not that much fun anymore. Host Chris Rock's comment was apropos:

"Next year, we'll give out the awards in the parking lot. We'll have a drive-thru lane where you can pick up your statue, whisked through by a traffic cop who keeps the line moving."

This leads me to a reminiscence, and that leads me to a side observation: it seems that in nearly all my posts these days, I dovetail into a reminiscence about something. If that's not a sign of age, I don't know what is.

Still, one of the things you try to do as a blogger is to contribute something personal and unique that only you could deliver. If you've been an adult since the late fifties, as I have, then you've got more stories to tell than current goings-on to recount.

Personal accounts of the past can, of course, be interesting, but it's tricky territory. We've all been put to sleep by some older relative droning on about "how it used to be."

But I'll take the risk. Recollections are harmless fun as long as you don't become preoccupied with them at the expense of keeping a forward-looking perspective--which is the essence of staying young in spirit.

There's also a certain built-in privilege that comes with the territory. After fifty years of adult living, while you lose some big things like sexiness and earning power, there are two big ones you gain: a measure of wisdom and many stories to tell.

Whether or not you can tell them in a way that has any relevance is another matter. But if you worry too much about that, you'll never get around to sharing anything.

Having said all this, I realize that the recollection to which I was going to digress is lightweight in the extreme. It was simply meant to underscore my point about how dull the Oscars have become.

Anyway, I remember watching the Oscars when they first started being televised (1953). There were no controls, it was just three or four cameras pointed at the proceedings, with a slight time-delay to bleep out any obscenities. There was no script. It was like telecasting a sporting event-whatever happens, happens.

There was no time limit on the speeches. You would get the occasional drunk, lots of good repartee, and much free-flowing high spirits. It was great fun, even if most of the acting awards were based on sentimental favorites rather than artistic merit.

It's ironic, isn't it, that in the age of "reality" television, with its alarming reduction in scripted shows, a real event like the Oscars becomes so scripted.

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