Tuesday, February 28, 2012

84th Academy Awards Show a Class Act--Almost

by Rev. Austin Miles

Even with the ample display of Angelina Jolie's right leg and Jennifer Lopez's left nipple, the 84th Academy Awards Show almost became what it was meant to be, a celebration of artistry and entertainment that transports young and old to a better idea of what life can be while encouraging a dignity of life and speech even in the worst of situations. The public wants classic films. That is precisely why The Artist won Best Picture Category.

This year we were spared the intrusive political agenda speeches along with the usual volley of vulgar words, actions and lack of decorum, such as when Brando refused his Oscar and sent someone representing a cause he supported who stated to the world that Mr. Brando would not accept his Oscar because of...." and the entire political cause was sputtered out as the audience booed, yanking everyone out of the magic of entertainment that they had come to enjoy and into the every day cesspool of life. That is not what movies or any other entertainment has been anointed to do.

Once upon a time a streaker managed to get backstage and ran stark naked across the stage in front of staid David Niven who was in the process of presenting an Oscar.  Niven's reaction of course provided a delightful moment as the bare-butt man ran HIS cause across a world stage.

This year's show was one of the best to be presented due to the addition of class and yes, decorum. There was no sense of furious competition among the nominees, like at a Screen Actor's Guild Awards show I reviewed where actors in the audience rolled their eyes disrespectfully when someone other than themselves was named. Their very telling body language spoke volumes about actual hostility toward some of their fellow actors.

Fortunately that was not the case Sunday. All the attendees seemed to be supportive and happy with each of the successes in the room. Overall, it was a classy event.

Perhaps the good behavior might have been a calming side effect of the presence of a devoted Nun, Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her Documentary, "God is Bigger Than Elvis." That black Habit on that Red Carpet had a stunning effect.

Mother Hart had been a film actress in younger days, gave her first screen kiss to Elvis Presley in the1957 film, Loving You."  She starred in nine more movies for six years, then realized that her call to to be a Catholic Nun in God's Service trumped her love for films and the world itself. She wanted to give herself totally to God's work.

She traveled from the Abbey of Regina Laudis Monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut to attend. She did not win the award.. She is not the first to leave show business to enter a religious order, nor is she the only Catholic official to take part in an awards ceremony.

Bishop Fulton Sheen had a TV program, Life is Worth Living,  in the 1950's that became so popular that he was nominated for an award for best TV program and won it. In his acceptance speech, he began; "First I would like to thank my writers..Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

Yes, the 84th Academy of Awards show maintained restraint and dignity even though a couple of people tried to lower that standard by attempting to bring in vulgarity.

Producers, T.J. Martin, Daniel Lindsay and Richard Middlemas, were on stage to receive an Oscar for their documentary, "Undefeated",  and sure enough, within 45 seconds, they hurled the F bomb. They just HAD to do it. They were cut off the air before they could even acknowledged anyone that made the documentary happen. Being vulgar was far more important to them

Later, after they were cut off,  Martin uttered a memorable stupid statement about the F-bomb: "It wasn't the classiest thing...but it came from the heart."  How's that again? It seemed more logical that it came from another part of the body. Then came a clip of a scene with Melissa McCarthy who used a a vulgar term which was totally unnecessary.

Sacha Baron Cohen was determined to do something over the top to call attention to himself and his movie. He came on the Red Carpet wearing a 'Dictator" costume and poured an urn of ashes on Ryan Seacrest. Those ashes are said to be the ashes of Kim Jong II who died recently.  Cohen was rightfully escorted away by security guards.

Still, with these amateurish displays, the program was one of the higher level shows of recent years. Billy Chrystal did an excellent job as M.C. He looks very comfortable in that role and kept the show moving.

Entertainment should be a refuge in the midst of an uncertain chaotic world and a place where people feel uplifted by a better representation of people that audiences may want to emulate. They do not pay to go into a theater to be dragged back out and down to hear the gutter talk of the world.