Oscars: Ugly gowns, old faces, and bad behavior

Remember Cary Grant?  Spencer Tracy?  Fred Astaire?  Clark Gable?  Gene Tierney?  Grace Kelly?  Olivia de Havilland?  Audrey Hepburn?

Hollywood and its Academy Awards ceremonies were once amazingly elegant.

Now, with the Oscars showing us Will Smith walking up on stage to punch announcer Chris Rock for making fun of his wife's bald head, they've become kind of wretched.  The Oscars this year showed just how far the movie idols and their Hollywood juggernaut have fallen.

It wasn't just a matter of toddler manners on display, although that certainly was prominent this year.

There actually was a lot of ugliness.

Did anyone look at how bad the gowns were?  I saw exactly one gown that looked good: the golden one worn by Lupe Nyong'o.  I'll give an honorable mention to Billie Eilish, who wore a overwhelming black gown that was "her" (with beautiful makeup and hair).  Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson and their wives projected stolid dignity.  But pretty much the rest of them looked just plain awful.  Even A-list actresses Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman, who normally get it right, looked lousy.  See the photo shows here and here.

Announcer Amy Schumer wore a revolting open-bodiced number with a weird ribbon stamp below that called attention to her grossly overexposed middle-aged "wares."  Some guy showed up without a shirt under his suit.  Other men showed up in 1980s prom-night brightly colored suits.  Some, such as Reba McIntyre, showed up in cliché-type gowns that were dull as dishwater.  Kristin Stewart looked as though she had forgotten to put pants on.  Many of this crew sported wrinkled gowns.  Many wore bra cups that were just way too small on their big baggy boobs.  One of the Williams sisters showed off her actual "nip slips."  Jada Pinkett-Smith was criticized for her giant lettuce leaf gown, but at least she didn't have butt cheeks hanging out.  Photos here.

Hollywood glamour?  There was virtually no evidence of it.  This looked like garage sale leftovers, given the shambliness of the paraded show.

Imagine Ginger Rogers or Vivien Leigh showing up in one of those numbers.  Wouldn't happen.

Equally noticeable was how old the participants looked.  There's nothing wrong with being old, and it's right to include all ages in something like the Oscars, but old faces, wearing gowns and tuxes that were "too young," really raised questions about the industry that apparently can't attract much in the way of new faces.  Young people are staying away from that industry.  The exploitation factor has gotten too intense, and there are better opportunities elsewhere now.  The system is so old and corrupted that only relatives of past stars can get movie roles, it's been reported, and aging actresses are taking all the good roles now.  It doesn't suggest a dynamic industry, and not surprisingly, it shows itself in the Nielsen and other television ratings, where the audience loss is most pronounced in the young.  Wonder why.

Now the standards have fallen so low that we are now seeing barroom behavior, the sorry spectacle of actor Will Smith getting up to punch announcer Chris Rock over a jab at his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, over her bald head, which certainly was stupid, in a replay of Kanye West's charging of the stage a few years ago over his opposition to an Emmy award handed out to singer Taylor Swift.  Been there, done that.  Supposedly, Smith's charge was chivalrous, except that she sleeps around on him, making him a cuckold, and the couple live in what they call "an open marriage."  Chivalry is all about loyalty and manly sacrifice, but they don't seem to have loyalty to one another as normal people recognize it.  Give us a break — this was barstool stuff and basically just a breakdown in order and manners.  And of course, as AT contributor Rajan Laad noted, Smith apologized to everyone except the guy he punched (and the audience he disgusted).


Imagine Cary Grant doing any of that.  Wouldn't happen.

Bad political speeches targeting Florida with false charges that it's persecuting gay people rounded the whole thing out.

Bad behavior, ugly gowns, old faces — it all shows an industry in decline.  The ratings will come out tomorrow showing how much of the public tuned in to the spectacle.  Don't hold your breath in thinking they've finally turned it around.  I'd bet money on their fortunes going even lower than they are already.

Image:  Screen shot from People magazine, citing A.M.P.A.S., via YouTube.

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