You may think you saw the Oscars last night – you may even think you skipped watching the Oscars – but no, no, my friend. Klavan on the Culture Thursday is on the way and we’ll show you the real Academy Awards later this week.
Also, tomorrow, I’ll have more to say on my little dust-up with Los Angeles Times critic Patrick Goldstein.
Meanwhile, here’s me last week on Red Eye – one of the best commentary shows on television – with my evil twin Greg Gutfeld. I’m the one who’s not Obama:
One of the great pleasures of my east coast trip was seeing a small production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. I’ve always loved G&S but it’s been years since I’ve seen one of their operettas and I’d forgotten how incredibly good they are. What really startled me was how much modern humor is derived from them. Picture the Monty Python crew dressed as British sailors singing the following and you’ll see what I mean:
“We sail the ocean blue,
And our saucy ship’s a beauty;
We’re sober men and true,
And attentive to our duty.
When the balls whistle free
O’er the bright blue sea,
We stand to our guns all day;
When at anchor we ride
On the Portsmouth tide,
We have plenty of time for play.”
Simply by turning a bunch of what would’ve been rough, foul-mouthed, womanizing British tars into delicate gentlemen shocked by the use of the “big, big D” word, G&S created satire and silliness so sharp it reminded me of that scene in The Court Jester where Danny Kaye passes his sword through the candle so fast it remains standing even though he’s cut it to pieces. Contemporary audiences must’ve fallen out of their seats laughing when they heard:
Welcome ladies so politely.”
It’s amazingly bawdy humor without even a whiff of foul language.
Likewise, the triumphant line of praise, “In spite of all temptations to belong to other nations, he remains an Englishman!” slices through British jingoism while leaving British patriotism completely intact.
And of course there’s the Obama-like Lord of the Admiralty who rises to great power without a moment’s useful experience: “Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, and you all may be rulers of the Queen’s navee!”
I once had a conversation with Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, about whether comedy dated badly compared to drama. I quoted the critic William Hazlitt’s famous comment that Shakespeare’s tragedies were better than his comedies only because tragedy is better than comedy. To which Douglas snapped back, “Shakespeare’s tragedies were better than his comedies because Shakespeare wasn’t funny!”
When I see how perfectly and completely the hilarity of Gilbert And Sullivan remains intact, I wonder if he wasn’t right.
I’m going to miss newspapers once they’re gone, I must admit. I love them and reading them online just isn’t the same. One of my favorites is the New York Post: great writing, great coverage, great attitude.
Great headlines too. Wednesday’s edition had a story on model Naomi Campbell beating up her chauffeur headlined “Driving Miss Crazy.” Another on Rep. Charlie Rangel losing support within his own party because of ethics violations including not paying some taxes on a Dominican beach house: “Dem Rats Deserting Beach Bum Charlie.” And a story on Obama threatening to ram his health care monstrosity through congress calls the president “Ramb-O.”
The prose can be equally hilarious. A story on singer John Mayer publically discussing actress Jessica Simpson’s sexual talents begins, “Jessica Simpson is blasting former flame John Mayer for shooting off his stupid mouth about how hot she was in bed…” Jonah Goldberg calls liberal WaPo writer Dana Millbank “Maureen Dowd in drag.” And here’s a great one on how revelations of David Letterman’s sexual charisma: “stunned the public, which had not previously viewed the socially awkward, self-loathing funnyman as a lustful Lothario whose mojo made maidens moan.” Bring it, dude!
American journalism began its long decline to its current dysfunction when it went from being a job to being a profession, traded reporters who represented the little guy for journalists who run interference for their guy. The Post writers may have the same worthless j-school degrees as their brothers and sisters at the Times but at least they know how to roll like it’s the good old days. It’s a terrific paper.
Remember that famous scene in the old film Public Enemy where Jimmy Cagney shoves a grapefruit into a woman’s face? It came to mind for some reason when I read this dopey op-ed by Kim Elsesser this morning in the New York Times.
Now, normally, I’m so delighted to see the Times put its opinion pieces on the opinion page instead of the front page that I give them all a pass. But Miss Elsesser, a research scholar at UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women, which up till now I thought was an off-campus tavern, opines that the Academy Awards should stop giving best acting awards in male and female categories and give just one award to both or either or… well, you get the idea.
I know. Who cares? Maybe all of Hollywood should just meet on Sunset Boulevard and one half should give statuettes to the other half and then repeat the process in reverse. But it’s such typical identity politics that it kind of bugs me. I mean, if there should be one award for both actors and actresses then that means there’s no difference between actors and actresses, right? So if an actor won the award ten years in a row and not an actress, there’d be nothing wrong with that because there’s no difference between them, right? But of course if that happened, who would be the first person caterwauling and complaining in an op-ed in the New York Times that women were being treated unfairly? Right. The girl from the off-campus tavern. All of a sudden, the differences would matter again.
Miss Elsesser is just doing the classic leftist two-step: using one grievance to create grounds for a thousand more grievances. One Oscar for males and females means every year Academy members have to do the gender equity math and we have to listen to people like this moan and groan about the unfairness of the results and how women are this, that and whatever. Since no one gives a rat’s about the Oscars anyway, it’d only be a miniscule decrease in the joy of living, to be sure. But with our left wing intent on depriving us of every ounce of that joy, I don’t think we should cede even a single drop.
UPDATE: Nope, the commenter is right and I’m wrong, the question was about Mo’nique. But my point remains. I was not thinking of race any more than I was when I lavished praise on the great Morgan Freeman. The race thing is just something lefties say.