On Preventing the Ceremonies of Dumb People in Hollywood From Being a Burden on Their Parent Companies or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public
“I am giving an account of what…ought…to be.”
― William Daniel Defoe, A Friendly Proposal for Foundlings and Bastard Children Moll Flanders
Much like the birth of Christ, historians of film rarely agree on when it happened: the birth of cinema, that is. Perhaps even more controversial, however, is the question of paternity. Who’s your daddy, indeed?
Francophiles will forever laud Méliès, Teutons will zealously campaign for Murnau, the Russians <3 Eisenstein and proud Americans some of D.W. Griffith’s first, err, exploits. And yet, no matter the geographic genesis of film, one fact about its origin remains clear across the national board: it was, in fact, a silent birth. #Scientology.
If radio had delivered the psychologically bewildering disembodied voice (i.e. sound without source), the early motion picture offered something perhaps even more mystifying, at least physiologically: a source devoid of sound. Actors were talking, dogs were barking, and yet somehow, both were still painfully inert. Mobile, yes, but mute nonetheless.
Watching a silent film was a decidedly phantasmagoric experience, almost comical even. This explains why some of the medium’s first stars—the Keatons, the Chaplins, the Arbuckles—were innate buffoons. (It might also help me wrap my noggin around Melissa McCarthy’s Bridesmaids nod.) But even here, in its fledgling reel, it was decided, by industry and consumer alike, that image alone just would not suffice.
But alongside the movie makers, movie-goers, too, were beginning to raise their voice. No longer would the magic of the movies, itself, keep the latter rapt. Film fans quickly began having opinions. All kinds, really. Moreover, they made them known en masse. Quelle Horreur! The rise of the movie critic, be he proper or pauper, was not linear; it was exponential. It was out of control. Really. Before we knew it, everyone everywhere was a certified ‘h8r.’
Of course, cinematic tastes will always be subjective. That reality cannot be denied. Try as we might, no amount of statistics, PR savvy or even proper, Kantian exegesis can explain why we do/don’t ‘like’ something. So ist das Leben. Amirite? To wit, simply saying that the eighty-whateverifth Oscar noms suck harder than Albert Nobbs is ultimately without merit. No one wins.
Incompetence, on the other hand, is purely quantitative. We really can assay, with but the tracest of error, the volume of disorganization, ineptitude and sheer stoopidity extant in a given award-granting body. Like Supertramp, I’m thinking logically here. Whether or not we didn’t mind Rango or, in the cockles of our heart, we’re certain Terry Malick is an asshole, is again totally irrelevant—much like anyone in Supertramp who’s not named Rick Davies.
Obviously, to assert that the Oscars have become the Grammys of film, proof, in some kind of axiomatic form, is surely needed. This is still America, mind you. Well-versed in the laws of propositional logic, please allow me to offer the following. I come to bury only those who truly deserve it…that is, the Academy at large. Honestly, though, it’s their fault. In nominating an actress for taking a dump in a sink, they’ve proven—themselves—that they don’t know shit. All I had to do was run the numbers:
“The truth, being forbidden to defend itself publicly,
may reach the ears of the rulers by the hidden path of letters.” — Tertullian, Apologeticum
I. If Christopher Plummer played gay, or the third go ‘round for Bay-cum-Spielberg’s hot Tranny™ mess got nominated at all (much less more than once), then Gary Oldman will finally take home his long-deserved statue three weeks to-the-hour of N.Y. Giant Ahmad Bradshaw’s game-winning butt touchdown.
- Let x = Capt. von Trapp is trapped no more.
- Have y = Dark of the Moon being remotely Oscar-worthy, even for the S.I.N. categories.
- Allow z = Commissioner James Gordon doesn’t yet have an Academy Award on his mantle.
Premise 1: (x ∨ y) → z
II. If Oldman wins for Lord Cromwell’s Smiley, then that manic pixie nightmare of a grrrl from Die Antwoord would’ve made for a better, more realistic Lisbeth Salander than the doe-eyed Rooney Mara (who, incidentally, is the daughter of the Giants’ VP of Player Evaluation).
- So $ = Yo-Landi Vi$$er was Zef enough for David Fincher.
Premise 2: z → $
III. Of course, much like the Oscars themselves, M$. Vi$$er is a walking circle joke, so Mara did get the lead in yet another mediocre adaptation of a rather banal book. Bork!
Premise 3: ¬$
IV. THEREFORE, come the witching hour of Sunday, February 26 inside the Kodak Theatre, Gary Oldman will not being hoisting any kind of trophy above his head. (N.B. It’s a toss-up between Sexiest Man ‘06 and Y2K.)
[[(x ∨ y) → z] ∧ (z → $) ∧ ¬$] → ¬y
(For want of showing one’s work, I probably should chart more thoroughly all the potential truth values for the full set conjunction of the three underlined premises above. It certainly couldn’t hurt. But then you’d only hound me for yet another graph detailing the semantic truth results for the entire frackin’ notion. As with Mr. Brink in On Borrowed Time, I simply haven’t the inclination to dispense info relevant to such an inquiry. [I’m already running long.] While these truths should indeed be self-evident, do believe me when I say that I’ve proven this most modest of proposals true for all possible notions of constituent truth. Unlike the Academy, these two thumbs wouldn’t lie to you.)
But, as in any sound argument, there’s bound to be a slippery slope. (What can I say? Slope happens.) And while I hate to indulge her at all, I’m afraid, goddammit, she’s the only way out…
WE HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE, THEN, BUT TO EAT THE ACADEMY!
Literally. I’m so not joking. Do I look like I’m joking? We must open wide, and pour every idiot voter down our collective gullets. This is ‘the easy way.’ We will chew insatiably; we will swallow judiciously. And most importantly, we will lick our plates clean. Actually, when you think about it, it’s not that bad.
I have been assured by a very knowing Jewish acquaintance in Los Angeles, that an uninformed Oscar voter is a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food—whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled. Furthermore, I have no doubt they would serve equally in a fricassée, or better yet, a hearty ragoust. For those who are more thrifty (as I must confess, these times do require) they may flea the carcass, the skin of which, come the Golden Globes, will make admirable gloves for ladies and boots for fine gentlemen. See, everybody wins.
I can think of not one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it’s that the number of crap movies garnering undeserved statuettes will be severely lessened. This I freely own, and it was the principal design in my proffering it to the world. Therefore, let no man talk to me of other expedients:
Of taxing the Academy at $5,000.00 a vote; of wearing neither designer clothes, nor rented jewelry, on the red carpet, except what is of our own growth and manufacture; of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote Best Foreign Film; of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our young actresses; of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance during Madonna’s after-parties; of learning to love animation, wherein we differ from the Japanese, and the inhabitants of Albion; of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like Academy members should not have term limits; of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing; of teaching the cineplex’s landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants; etc. ad inf.
THEREFORE, once more, I repeat, let no man talk to me of these until he has some glimpse of hope that there will be a sincere attempt to put them into practice. Of course, I’ll also have to check his math.
Finally, I profess with all the sincerity of my heart that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary meal. I am not some disgruntled actor. Nor am I a black-listed director, much less an auteur. I have no other motive than the public good of my country, advancing our trade and giving some pleasure to the cinematically rich. I have no children per se—my youngest being nineteen years old, my ex-wife past child-bearing—so I ain’t just looking for a free lunch neither.
Looking at this latest batch of nominees, it’s as if Hollywood is more than kosher to eat itself, already. For Chrissakes, not three weeks ago, an actor from The Artist won The Actor from the S.A.G. In that case, then, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow they’ll die in earnest. Bon appétit! But, as always, please do remember to eat all you take.
“Be not a cancer on the earth.”
— Anon. (but most likely R.E. “Ted” Turner III), Georgia Guidestones
Logan K. Young last wrote about Ray Kurzweil for Disinformation. His book, Mauricio Kagel: A Semic Life, is out now.