I'd rather be stuck on JetBlue without snacks or toilet privileges than watch this year's Oscars. At least when you spend ten hours on the tarmac, waiting to go to Orlando, there's a chance you'll go to Orlando. As opposed to waiting four hours to see someone you don't know get an award you won't remember for a movie you didn't see. (Oh, but what will Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu be wearing?)
Four precious hours of the only life God gave you. Time when you could be playing Madden '07.
But you do what you want. Only, once you do it, you can never again look down on anyone who watches "The Price is Right." At least the winners there need the appliances. And comparison shopping is a teachable skill.
And don't tell me it's a "guilty pleasure." I'm a Catholic. "Guilty pleasure" is redundant.
If I sound cranky, it's because I already went to an award show this month, for the Writers Guild. I've done my time. I went to a hotel and sat through two hours of Robert Wuhl.
(The only reason people don't make more jokes about what a hack Robert Wuhl is, is that he's such a hack, it's actually hacky to say what a hack he is. How can one person combine so little talent with so little charm and not be Sandra Bernhard?)
That said, I did have an idea for making the Oscars better, and it came to me during the WGAs.
They were showing a clip package from The Great Films, just to remind us, after Robert Wuhl, that entertainment was still possible. You might be surprised to learn that the clip package for the writers' awards is just as lame as the clip package they show everywhere else. Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm. Peter Finch says he's mad as hell. Cher slaps Nicholas Cage so hard you can actually see him start losing his hair. The standard crap, so rote and predictable, I think it actually comes prebundled with the newer macs. But it, of course, also contained Strother Martin as the sadistic guard in Cool Hand Luke saying:
"What we have here... is failure to communicate."
And it struck me. Wow. That's so pre-9/11. That must have been 40 years ago. Back when torture was something only bad guys did.
This week, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the prisoners in Guantanamo don't have the right to a trial, ever, or anything else.
That's what's hot. That's what's hip in America in 2007.
So wouldn't it be cool if one of the Oscar clip packages was just people being tortured?
Bush press conference, September 15, 2006
Question: "What do you say to the argument that your proposal is basically seeking support for torture, coerced evidence and secret hearings?"
The President: "The Geneva Convention... says that, you know, "There will be no outrages upon human dignity." It's like -- it's very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"? That's a statement that is wide open to interpretation..."
Pan's Labyrinth. Sergi Lopez smashing a farmer's face in with a wine bottle. Warm applause from the Pan's Labyrinth camp.
Cool Hand Luke. "Failure to communicate..." just to get it out of the way.
Lives of a Bengal Lancer. "We have ways of making men talk."
Raiders of the Lost Ark. Either Karen Allen or Brooke Adams is about to get a hot poker in the face.
"Wait, wait. I can be reasonable.""That time is past.""You don't need that. I'll tell you everything.""Yes, I know you will."
Goldfinger. "Do you expect me to talk? "No, I expect you to die!"
The President. "... I believe we do need the program. And I detailed in a speech in the East Room what the program has yielded; in other words, the kind of information we get when we interrogate people within the law."
The Purple Heart. Richard Loo is interrogating Dana Andrews within the laws of Imperial Japan. "We have other prisoners, captain. Must I remind you that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?"
Syriana. (Warm applause of recognition from the George Clooney camp. Titters, because he's kinda fat in Syriana.)
Interrogator: "You're going to give me the names of every person who's taken money from you."
Then he rips one of George Clooney's fingernails off with pliers.
Lawrence of Arabia. (Warm applause from Peter O'Toole camp.) Jose Ferrar is giving Lawrence a whipping he's only half getting off on.
Marathon Man: "Is it safe?"
Now the clips are sort of speeding up. Less dialogue, more quick hits. Some classics, some kitsch. Kiss Me Deadly. Hitler's Children. A Man Called Horse. Mandingo. The Passion of the Christ.
MUSIC: The Jacksons' "Torture"
Han Solo, post-questioning, is dumped back in his cell. "I feel terrible."
Un Chien Andalou. The knife slices the eye. Alfonso Cuaron applauds.
Charlton Heston being beaten. Marlon Brando being beaten. Charlton Heston being beaten in something else. Marlon Brando getting beaten in two more things. Charlton getting a serious beating. Brando getting a beating like you've never seen in your life. Just when you think you'll never get to bed...
Chinatown. Polanski: "You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses." And then he cuts Jack Nicholson's nose. Cut to Jack in the audience. The crowd goes wild.
Back to Marathon Man. Olivier: Is it safe?
CUT TO: General beatings. General Alec Guinness being put in the box in The Bridge on the River Kwai. Steve McQueen goes to the cooler in The Great Escape. Joe Pesci squeezes someone's head in a vice or something. Christopher Walken tortures someone. Someone tortures Christopher Walken.
The President: "... sometimes you actually have to question the people who know the strategy and plans of the enemy... And we need to be able to question them, because it helps yield information, information necessary for us to be able to do our job."
Ilsa, She Wolf of the S.S.
Three Kings. Marky Mark is being electrocuted. (Warm applause, but not that warm.) Torturer: "What is the problem with Michael Jackson?"
Richard Burton in 1984. "You once asked me, Winston, what was in room 101. I think you know. Everyone does. The thing that is in room 101... is the worst thing in the world." CUT TO
A Clockwork Orange
Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks
Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce smash Ron Rifkin's face into a toilet and hang him out a window.
Sophie making her choice.
Some crackers in "2000 Maniacs" drive a lot of nails into a barrel and put someone in it, and roll them down a hill.
The President. "... I believe Americans want us to protect the country, to have clear standards for our law enforcement, intelligence officers, and give them the tools necessary to protect us within the law."
Marathon Man again. Hoffman: "Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it." Olivier: "Is it safe?" Hoffman: "No. It's not safe, it's... very dangerous, be careful."
Repo Man. Emilo Estevez and some actress no one ever saw again.
Girl:" What about our relationship?"Emilio: "What"Girl: "Our relationship!"Emilio: " Fuck that!"Girl: "You SHITHEAD! I'm glad I tortured you!"
Burton: "If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever."
CUT TO:The President. "Good night. And God bless America."
CUT TO:Cher slaps Nicholas Cage. "Snap out of it."