Did anyone watch the Oscars the other night? I did. There's something strangely fascinating about watching all those dresses and suits and bodies and hair styles wandering down the red carpet, dispensing their pearls of idiotic wisdom to anyone who asks. I know, I don't sound very worshipful about it all, do I. That's because I'm not. Not since I hit Old Codgerdom, anyhow. I used to love these shows when I was a kid because they were so over the top. Weird dresses and witty, slightly drunk film stars being, well, witty, slightly drunk film stars. It was all so gloriously decadent to my teenage self. Now it seems the men all eke out the same bland pleasantries, while the 20-something women look identical: coltishly skinny, highly made up, slightly manic look in the eye. They even dress the same - nothing remotely Bjorkish or Cher-ish in this politically correct wasteland (don't ask me to mention Madonna because it makes me cringe). The only thing still the same is the cigarette smoking, except nowadays everyone pretends they DON'T smoke. Dull dull dull.
The show this past week-end was a bit on the ho-hum side, I regret to report, after the imitation-Billy Crystal opening montage. James Franco wavered between a visual tic that rendered him unable to look the camera in the eye and acting just plain bored. I wanted to slap his ego more than once, and I'm sure Anne Hathaway did as well, judging from her desperate overcompensation. The one bright spot in the evening was when Kirk Douglas tottered on stage (tottering not because of his heels but because of his age) and teased out his moment in the fading Hollywood sun by making everyone wait while he clowned around a bit. It was sweet and charming and light-hearted, exactly how a show like this SHOULD be. There's a lesson to be made here, a lesson about Taking Oneself Too Seriously, but it's such an obvious one I don't think I need to make it.
Then of course there was the pre-show. Usually it's the most interesting bit. This is the moment when the Hollywood glitterati get to totter, stumble, trip, or glide along the red carpet (depending on who's done what beforehand, as well as what one is wearing, and perhaps of course how little one has eaten beforehand which affects one's tottering ability), and brave the reporters. When we lived near LA the hosts of this segment were the style reporters of the local LA television shows, and they tended to be excellent purveyors of glee and gossip. They were also loud and excitable in that way American reporters do so well (we Canadians are a buttoned-up lot). Now I live in the Pacific Northwest, where things of the Hollywood Ilk aren't treated with much reverence, and we had Seattle news anchors dispensing the action. No offense, but it added one more layer of dull. Of course, I might have been negatively influenced by Randolph Duke, the Style Host of the pre-show (who will be forever etched in my memory as the victim of a botched plastic surgery procedure years ago). He was a much less bitchy than he used to be, but what he lacked in vitriol he made up for with misplaced adulation. "She's a goddess!" he would boom every time someone under 30 walked by him. "A GODDESS!" I counted 15 goddesses in the first hour.
The first time he said this, FDPG darted into the room, eyes afire.
To FDPG, a goddess is something like this. Remote, dangerous, possessed of alarming magical powers or blue skin. Sporting several limbs, even. They wave snakes and wear necklaces of teeth.
Goddesses are capable of blasting holes in the sides of buildings when they're annoyed. They are bigger than life. Forbiddingly beautiful. They rampage up and down the Nile, their eyes shooting out flames in their fury. They rip the heads off mortals who anger them.
FDPG was highly disappointed to see that the "goddess" in question was not Isis. Or Sekhmet. Or even Kali. This goddess was a slight dark-haired girl in a pale dress. And she was wobbling along in sky-high heels, smiling uneasily. "Someone give that girl a lesson in deportment!" I wanted to shout, but I didn't, because that WOULD have been curmudgeonly. Besides, I was worried she was going to fall over. But really, when one wears 6" heels one really should know how to walk without looking as though one's knees can't bend, don't you think?
"What makes that girl a goddess?" FDPG asked me. "Has she got super powers?" She peered suspiciously at the television, wondering no doubt how a skinny girl like that came by super powers. I didn't like to tell FDPG this, but my suspicions were that that girl's super powers had less to do with innate talent and more to do with looks and a willingness to suck up to the bigger super powers of Hollywood. Unsavory stuff, really. We both watched that particular goddess weave her way down the red carpet and FDPG sighed at the lack of drama.
No flames. No shredded puny humans. Nothing.
According to Randolph Duke there were an awful lot of goddesses at the Oscars. It was rather alarming. He even told one or two of them how goddess-like they were, and I was delighted to observe how they took his compliments. Not a one seemed abashed. They all evidently agreed with him. Good thing no one asked FDPG what she thought.
But none of them looked like this.
Or this, although, come to think of it, a few WERE sporting the same, rather globular look about the bust line.
One of the perks of being a goddess, I guess.