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Monday, March 4, 2024

Column: And the Long goes to…

Ah, Hollywood. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’d like to write in L.A. and carve out a niche for myself down there somewhere in the near/distant future. So, of course, I watched the Academy Awards so I can be hip to all that goes down.

I was impressed by the Oscars this year, in that they weren’t the most boring they’ve ever been. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin snubbing George Clooney was more fun than watching Wolverine sing songs and tap dance, and The Hurt Locker was a pretty good film. (I liked A Serious Man and Inglourious Basterds better, but not everyone has such exquisite taste.)

Anyway, during the exorbitant J.C. Penney marketing campaign, I began to wonder what it would be like to win one’s first Oscar. And, being the genius and arrogant man that I am, I began to wonder what I would be like if (when) I were called onto the stage to receive my very own little golden man.

I imagine I’d be nervous as hell. Like, dangerously nervous. I get bent out of shape giving presentations to my peers. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to stand in front of Jack Nicholson’s grin and Clint Eastwood’s scowl and try to say something both witty and humble. Do I crack a joke? Do I mention the latest volcanic eruption or asteroid strike? Do I try to think of every single person who I’ve ever met and thank them? (I’d like to thank that one guy at Zia’s for making great sandwiches).

I’d probably try for a joke and some blanket “thank you” to cover all my bases. The only thing I’m certain of is that if I ever have to give an Oscar speech, tequila will be involved.

But tequila is a…delicate weapon. It’s a balancing act. Too little golden courage and I’d probably shake so hard I drop the damn Oscar and flee off stage. Too much, though, and I’d yack all over someone gorgeous like Parker Posey and then flee off stage. I guess in all scenarios, even with the proper amount of tequila, I’d be anxious to get off the stage.

Above all, I suppose, I’d try to be sincere. The people I appreciate the most are those that don’t try to disguise themselves, even though that’s the business they’re in. I like people who say they’re nervous and speak naturally. I was impressed when Javier Bardem delivered part of his speech to his mother in his native Spanish when he took “best supporting actor” in ’07.

The trouble with Hollywood, I suppose, is that it’s full of superficial douchebags. So often you get some asshole on stage trying to pander their politics or squeeze out a nickel during the 15 seconds of airtime they get.

Take Barbara Streisand, for example. I tried to find exactly what she said so I could quote her like a good journalist, but I couldn’t. Basically, she lauded Kathryn Bigelow for being the first woman to win “best director.” That’s fine, but they way she said it demeaned the victory. Kathryn Bigelow didn’t win best director because she’s a woman. She won it because she’s a good director. Ol’ Babs treated the Oscar like a handout, which it isn’t (arguable, I guess).

Then there was that one guy who worked on The Cove. Yeah, killing dolphins is a drag, but holding up a sign saying “text dolphin to (some number)” cheapens the whole thing. Put your social and political agendas aside for half a breath. The Academy Awards are about the craft, about excellence in filmmaking, not excellence in political correctness.

Ah, who cares. The Oscars aren’t the end all, be all in whether or not a film is good. Unfortunately, it’s all based on opinion. Are there films out there that aren’t given the recognition they deserve? Sure. It’s a popularity contest. Some people vote based on a film’s actual merit, some on how much popcorn a film sells. Others vote because they hope the star of a film will have sex with them someday.

What an apt metaphor for life.

I’m certainly a long way from having to worry about winning an Oscar and wondering what kind of tux to wear. All I know is that win or lose, nomination or not, I’ll be at that after party spitting game at Parker Posey.

Unless, of course, I already threw up on her from drinking too much.

WILL LONG would like to thank the dinosaurs for getting killed and allowing me an opportunity to make my films. Hit him up at wclong@ucdavis.edu for directions to the after party. Until next quarter, my friends.


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