February 28, 2011, - 1:32 pm
If you wasted multiple hours of your life you’ll never get back by watching the Academy Awards show, last night, you already know it was the most boring show ever. Between the low-class Melissa Leo dropping an F-bomb amidst a bizarre speech and moronic hostess Anne Hathaway repeatedly shouting “WOOOO!” after every introduction, I wish I had better background noise on while I was doing chores and other stuff more important than staring at these proud overpaid underachievers. But there’s something that bothered me: Kirk Douglas. His hard-to-listen-to “performance” was a circus act–a speech impediment minstrel show–put on by Hollywood liberal carnival barkers who live in a world in which no-one loses and everyone is a champion speaker (and who also thinks, “hey, this has great gawker appeal!”).
Kirk Douglas: From “Spartacus” to Oscar Sideshow Spectacus
I’m sorry the man, once a great Hollywood actor, had a stroke and can barely talk. He seems to have recovered from it nicely over the years. But the guy cannot speak. It’s totally inappropriate to have him up there on stage, talking. Yes, we know he had a stroke. And we know he recovered. And, but for the grace of G-d, that could be you or me. But we know he can’t talk, so why pretend like the Emperor has fantastic new vocal cords? It’s affirmative action for the disabled, like when they give a disabled kid a prize for winning a race he didn’t or give him a head start. It’s just false. And it’s a disservice–not to mention a giant session of “Pretend”–to have this guy as a presenter on live television. It’s painful to listen to, and who are they kidding? It’s like they want to pretend–and force us to, also–that this guy is still “Spartacus.” Instead, Spartacus is now Spectacle. And it’s extremely awkward and disconcerting to watch them put him on display like this. Not to mention, pointless. Any way you look at it, it was exploitation.
It’s embarrassing for everyone involved, including the interpreter who wasn’t hired and should have been. Couldn’t understand most of what the guy said. Sorry. Am I the only one who noticed the irony and hypocrisy that, on a night when a movie about overcoming speech impediments–”The King’s Speech,” they choose to push on us the fiction that we’re supposed to applaud them having a presenter who can’t speak? Like I said, I’m sorry he suffered from a stroke, and good for him that he mostly recovered. But that doesn’t justify the sad sideshow of having him struggle through presenting an award. And I also blame the hubris and conceit of Kirk Douglas, who actually believes people want to hear him struggle through the lines. Memo to Kirk: they don’t.
It’s the same thing for Dick Clark, who continues to insist on going on his ABC “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” each year, to do the countdown to do the New Year. He can barely talk and cannot enunciate any intelligible numbers. So, what’s the point? To show us he is still alive and walking around? We get that. Don’t put us through this for your own personal vanity.
It’s called “show biz” for a reason. Things are supposed to be glammed up and livened up so Americans can escape their everyday lives into another world. That other world isn’t people who can’t talk pretending that they can and the fantasists in Hollywood telling us to pretend the same.
It’s normal and proper to feel sympathy for those struck by medical trauma, to feel empathy with them for their struggle in overcoming the physical tragedy. But it’s absolutely absurd and complete fantasy to put people who can’t talk in speaking parts on live national television.
20 years ago, it would have been a dumb, unbelievable skit on Saturday Night Live. Today, it’s the idiocracy of reality–a world in which no-one is a failure. Everyone wins the race. And everyone who can’t speak–well, we’re supposed to pretend they speak the Queen’s English with Winston Churchill’s delivery.
Tags: Academy Awards, conceit, Dick Clark, hubris, Kirk Douglas, New Years Rockin' Eve, Oscars, Spartacus, Spectacle, Spectacus, speech impediment, speech impediment minstrel show, stroke, vanity