Eating Jim Crow

That’ll teach me to advertise my website.

No sooner do I email a link to my friend, Jeff, than he’s posting comments pointing out my egregious (some might say legally actionable) errors that I made, all in the name of an innocent, wholesome, cheap shot at an otherwise perfectly upstanding celebrity. It seems he’s quite right. Despite all the mud-slinging to the contrary, media testimonies by the ill-informed, and content within the film itself that seemed to indicate otherwise, Renée Zellweger’s character in Cold Mountain was never supposed to be black. I, quite naturally, never bothered to confirm this fact one way or the other because, after all, that would require a modicum of work and the sacrifice of a couple of underhanded japes.

What’s next? Am I going to sit through The Passion of the Christ only to find out it’s not anti-Semitic? That’ll be a bummer.

This stubborn controversy, which has relentlessly dogged for as much as two hours now, only serves to stir up many other issues. More important issues. Issues which will, hopefully, divert attention from my very public fuck up. Namely, what’s the world coming to when you can’t believe vicious, unfounded rumours? Just because people base their libel and innuendo on facts they’ve never read for themselves shouldn’t mean that I should have to do any research to back up my own libel and innuendo.

If there’s one thing that living through this particular juncture in history has taught me, it’s the vital importance of not checking your facts. Facts only lead to uncertainty, debate, and balanced judgments, and we can’t have that. Too many facts, and before you know it you’re likely to lose all sorts of support for your unfounded war, your paranoid witch hunt, or your racist persecution of a visible minority. And then where would we be? Back in the jungle my friends, back in the jungle.

The upshot of all this is that ultimately, no, Renée Zellweger did not win an Oscar for shamelessly overacting a character that was supposed to be black, she won an Oscar for shamelessly overacting a character that was just as daisy white as her.

But…but…that still doesn’t make her British, okay?

You Can Come Out Now, It’s Over

It’s been a full day since the little gold statuettes were handed out and I’m growing more bored of the 76th Annual Academy Awards by the minute. In what was probably the most predictable Oscar ceremony in history, everybody got what was coming to them whether they deserved it or not. Category favourite after category favourite walked away with a win, to the slight dismay of Vegas bookies who were offering as much as 1.2 to 1 odds for high rollers who dared put money on the dodgiest toss-ups. Yes, that Sean Penn/Bill Murray split vote was the stuff of… Oh screw it, everyone saw that one coming, too. Even Billy Crystal had his, “Aw Bill, we all love you” comment waiting in the wings. For industry outsiders, that translates as, “Sorry, Bill, but I had to vote for Penn because I couldn’t bear the thought of an SNL alumni who wasn’t me winning an Oscar. I feel sort of guilty about it. Really. Don’t hate me. Let’s do lunch. I’ll buy.”

Everyone managed to be deathly dull, without a single hint of petty nastiness throughout. The political rhetoric was token at best, and even the look of dismayed contempt on Oprah’s face when Renée Zellweger won was washed away by the look of artificial graciousness at the post-Oscar party when she gave Renée a hug and plenty of insincere congratulations for her daring white-face performance in Cold Mountain. I bet even the SWAT team snipers outside the theatre were wearing big phony smiles for the cameras that were never trained on them.

But I was touched, really I was, when Sofia Coppola acknowledged the years of experience, wisdom and nepotism her father had given her, and thanked her whole family for encouraging her to continue when she was stuck on page twelve of the Lost in Translation screenplay. Continue she did, all the way to page fifteen and Oscar glory. There was a lump in my throat when she listed off the great directors who had had an influence on her work, bravely limiting her picks to the most pretentious choices imaginable with the deftness of a first-year film-studies student. Ah, Sofia, your permanent sneer lit up the entire room that night.

Pst! I'll give you a hint. It's this guy over here.The big news for Canada was Denys Arcand’s long-awaited foreign language win for The Barbarian Invasions. It was heart warming to see that after three nominations in the same category over the course of seventeen years, the Oscar folks still couldn’t train their cameras on the right person when his name was finally read. Arcand may be a proud Quebecer, but he also proved himself to be a true Canadian by managing to be polite, modest and invisible all at once. It may have been his award, but that never stopped him from letting someone else be shown marching to the podium, and some other person giving the acceptance speech. I thought it might come to blows when one of his producers tried to get him to say something, anything, before they were played off the stage. In the end, she managed to tackle Denys and stick the microphone in his face long enough for him to lie about being out of time. Way to go, Denys, you spotlight hog!

Far be it from me to offer even more insipid Oscar coverage, though. We’ll be hearing about who-wore-who from all the major networks for weeks to come, or at least until we’ve forgotten who’s losing which war on what abstract concept. Now that it’s all over and I’m suddenly barred from using my Canadian Academy card to see any movies more interesting than the latest local yokel releases, I can relax for a bit. A very short bit. Then it’s back to work to fulfill my latest contractual obligations to Fries With That? which, I’m told, will finally premiere on YTV a month from now. Watch this space for times and air dates when we get closer to the big event.