When I sat down on the couch this past Sunday, it had only been a week since I sat down on the couch to watch another three hour-plus spectacle of sound and fury. In both cases, I comforted myself with the notion that even if the Super Bowl was awful, or the Oscars were dull, that at least the commercials would be a diversion.
As it turns out, there were surprises to be found on both Sunday's broadcasts. With nine minutes left, the Kansas City (Missouri) Chiefs rebounded from a ten point deficit to win by eleven. I can't remember any of the commercials. The Oscar telecast had its share of surprises, most notably when Parasite took home the best picture award. This shock was only matched by the fact that presenter Jane Fonda did little to take advantage of her bully pulpit in front of some thirty million viewers. But of course even the notion of "surprise" may be an overstatement.
Yes, Parasite is the first foreign language film to win the Academy's top honor. But it's not as if it had flown under the radar. The business end of show business had taken care of the promotion of this South Korean production and it had moved past the point of consideration into a nomination. True, it was up against heavy hitters like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and 1917, but it was financed by CJ Entertainment, a spinoff of media giant Samsung. It's not like this was made on a shoestring or for the pure love of the art of film. This story of income inequality was paid for by a tentacle of a giant corporation.
In my head, I heard my wizened voice announcing in advance that Renee Zellweger would win the best actress category "because Hollywood loves to congratulate itself." Which is really the point of that three hour tour through the "best" that Hollywood has to offer. The notion that white males were somehow pushed into the background was quickly diminished when a full list of winners was on display. Eleven of the two dozen statues were handed over to white males, which certainly pales by comparison to previous years (please groan here). But I never felt as though I was seeing anything like a revolution. I was watching the business of show, and the victory lap of the corporations that put those flickering images up on the screen.
Was I surprised? As surprised as I was when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, after coming back in each of their previous playoff games this season after being behind by ten or more points. Pretty much a sure thing.