The Gong Show

Somewhat ironic how I manage to keep the editorials coming while my parents are here, but as soon as they go away, I play truant. I blame some kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome. I wonder if I could claim relief under the laws here which prevent discrimination against anyone with a disability? I probably could, going by a couple of recent cases in the paper. One woman claimed that she should be allowed to keep her large dog in an apartment complex that didn’t allow them, because it helped her depression (she was a bit vague on why it had to be a large dog), while another woman, fired from her job for lateness due to excessive preening and time spent putting on her make-up, is now suing under the same law, claiming that she has obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Whatever happened to people taking responsibility for their own actions? Or even, it’s your problem, don’t expect us to deal with it? Sorry, mate: not allowed to do that any more, it’s always something else’s fault. And if you can’t find a syndrome to blame, feel free to make one up!

Speaking of excessive preening, there was an entire convention’s-worth of that going on last night, with it being the Oscars. It was my first experience of seeing them live; the time-lag meant that when I was in Britain, they were on in the middle of the night, and besides, the nominees were usually uninteresting anyway. This year was rather different, with both Gladiator and Crouching Tiger getting a sheaf of nominations, so I had something to cheer for.

Overall, it wasn’t as turgid as I feared – the most boring thing was the new Pepsi commercial featuring Britney Spears, which had lost even my interest half-way through the first time it was screened: yes, you’re saying “Drink Pepsi” – we get the point already! Though I confess that we were rarely sitting there in rapt attention: dinner was had, everything cleared away, orders were packed and much chatting was done, in between the actual envelope-opening. Steve Martin isn’t a person I have a great deal of time for, but he did a decent-enough job as host, whizzing through proceedings breezily enough [After one joke he made about Tom Hanks, Mr.H did not look pleased in the slightest, which is enough reason on its own to put Martin up in my estimation a notch or two]

Not all Oscars are equal, however – I noticed that short and long documentaries got cobbled together with one presenter (as did original and adapted screenplays, which tells you a great deal about the position of the writer on the Hollywood totem-pole). Not too bothered about that though, when it looked as if every feature-length documentary was about one repressed minority or other – the bleeding-heart agenda of Hollywood strikes again. I blame Steven Spielberg, myself.

The acceptance speeches were interesting; one of the Crouching Tiger winners seemed to want to name-check everyone in Far East individually, rattling them off with a speed which seemed more befitting dialogue from a Stephen Chow film. At the other end, Steven Soderbergh said he’d thank people later, and just gave a hearty “well done” to everyone who’s an artist. Gee, thanks, Steve! And then there was Julia Roberts in uber-flight; going by that performance, I’m not sure how much of the applause was her brain cells banging together. And finally, I noticed they’d made a point of ditching “And the winner is…” in favour of “And the Oscar goes to…”. Winning implies losing, and in modern America, there can be no such thing.

Or if you do lose, it’s surely just the fault of your obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now, who can you sue?