There are a few moments throughout the course of a year that I look forward to without fail — my birthday, Christmas, the start of summer vacation and Oscar night.
I really love movies.
I know I’m not alone in this, because every February the national media turns their attention to Hollywood, soaking up the shine from our favorite film stars gallivanting down the red carpet and into the Dolby Theatre to collect their accolades.
On Sunday, the 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony commenced, bringing with it the usual hullabaloo of red carpet “who wore it bests” and long award acceptance speeches — speeches that were cut short for long-winded winners to the score from the film “Jaws.” I watched intently, my winner predictions scrawled on the ballot I had printed out from the Oscar website.
I live for this stuff.
However, as a veteran Oscar viewer, I can’t help but feel bothered with how the Academy conducts business these days. If you watch older Academy Awards ceremonies, there is a much greater sense of reverence for the craft of acting and filmmaking present in those affairs.
On Sunday night, Seth MacFarlane hosted the ceremony meant to honor the best and brightest in moviemaking.
Seth MacFarlane’s contribution to film in the last year was “Ted,” the bawdy comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, who plays a grown man with a sentient teddy bear.
Does that seem a little off to anyone else?
I couldn’t help but cringe as MacFarlane broke into a song titled, “We Saw Your Boobs” — a tribute to the ladies in film who have shown some skin on the silver screen. Things got worse when MacFarlane, dressed as a nun, smooched Sally Field in a pre-taped clip.
I can’t imagine the titans of classic cinema sitting through such a spectacle. To think of great actors like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart being audience to MacFarlane’s tacky antics makes me cringe. The volume of talent packed under one roof at the Oscars feels as though it merits a ceremony with a touch more class.
The Oscars have slowly slipped into a dog-and-pony show rather than a true celebration for the art of the cinema. By catering to the viewers of shows like E! News, the Academy Awards feel cheapened.
In a recent example in 2011, James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the ceremony — a pair I was looking forward to seeing. As a huge James Franco fan, even I was disappointed with his hosting abilities. Many people got the impression he was on drugs while up on stage, and the broadcast was rife with uncomfortable moments that arose from the incompetency of Franco and Hathaway as hosts.
Instead of getting buzzworthy celebrities-of-the-moment to command the ceremony, the Academy should focus on bringing back the grandeur of the most prestigious night in film awards.
The solution, shockingly enough, is not projecting William Shatner onto a giant screen to make tired jokes opposite MacFarlane, as took place on Sunday night.
Many of the Oscar attendees have worked on films that devastate the soul, show the triumph of the human spirit, and inspire hope in the darkest of times. Hugh Jackman taking the stage to sing a ballad from “Les Miserables” following a tacky joke from the host of the show seems ridiculous and out of place.
It’s not as though the Academy has forgotten what makes a beautiful awards ceremony — they incorporated moving musical numbers and tributes into the broadcast to honor the beauty of the craft — but yet they still pander to the simpleminded crass humor that draws in viewers who tune in with hopes of seeing a wardrobe malfunction or some celebrity drama.
All I ask is that when honoring what is arguably the most important form of modern entertainment today, the Academy does their part to uphold the tradition of class that has come to define the standard for exceptional filmmaking.
At this rate, I fear that by the time I win my first Oscar the host of the ceremony will have declined in capability to the point of absurdity — a fear that is not altogether unwarranted given Sunday night’s charade.
MacFarlane’s saving grace was his acute self-awareness as he cracked jokes about his mediocrity in comparison to some of the evening’s nominees. Although it’s easy to mock his questionable hosting job, had I been in his position, I would have never turned down a chance to host the greatest gathering of living film masters under one roof — even if I had just made a film about a foul-mouthed teddy bear.
Still, the “We Saw Your Boobs” number is pretty inexcusable.
Despite the growing sensationalism that surrounds the evening, I’ll keep watching the Oscars year after year. I love the art of film too much to miss out on such a display. I’m just going to cross my fingers that next year brings with it a little more class — and perhaps fewer scenes of Seth MacFarlane and Sally Field making out. Is that too much to ask?
Katie Murt is a junior majoring in English and is The Daily Collegian’s Tuesday columnist. Email her at email@example.com.