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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Oscar's Disconnect

We're all hearing lots about the "Oscar flub" that happened last Sunday, but somehow or other, I keep thinking there was another flub that made me much, much more uncomfortable than the one we saw.

First - I need to say I love movies, and love isn't even a strong enough word - I loooooove movies, I love actors, screenwriters, directors and playwrights (and as some of you know I'm a playwright myself). So of course I want to celebrate movies and the people who make them.

What I didn't expect to see was a busload of people being led into the Oscar ceremony, introduced briefly to a few different celebrities and then hurried out. I don't know if you saw this or if you did, if you agree, but to me, it seemed that tourists were being asked to perform some kind of worship ritual - and were then sent off afterwards, as toddlers might be, to their bus.

Kimmel talked up his idea for a few minutes so everyone, including the "audience at home" would be in on the joke. I kept hoping this whole scene WAS a joke--some kind of satire or something--but no. When the doors opened and the bus riders entered, they (very good naturedly) put up with Jimmy's jokes and comments. At one point he seemed to be mocking one of the tourists for taking pictures with his phone.

What was the point of the whole exercise? Who decided this would be entertaining? All I can say is it felt really creepy to watch, because clearly the people entering the hall would never have enough money to wear the kind of gowns and tuxes celebrities wear; they would never have the houses or lives of these celebrities; and it seemed like they were being patronized in every way I could possibly think of, and no celebrity in that hall seemed to notice or mind.

Am I wrong? Did you see what I saw? If you disagree, can you tell me why?

I couldn't help but think of the Beat Generation poets I'm writing about in The Beat on Ruby's Street and the Beat Street series. What would Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Diane Di Prima, and other writers say if they could witness the scene Jimmy Kimmel engineered?

Maybe they'd say... something like this?

"The people who go to your movies and care and think about the characters and struggle with their lives and jobs or lack of jobs are not figures of fun or your pets or toddlers. They may not pay your salaries but they pay to see the movies you create . Like me, they love movies. They love actors, They may even be (or want to be) actors or writers or directors themselves.

Shouldn't you have invited them to stay and offered them seats and asked them what movies they like instead of being so superficially (and barely) engaged with them?"

I don't know, huh? Maybe the people who were on that bus were not offended and had a wonderful time. I don't know, but I had to share what I saw, and ask if you had the same reaction to it.

Because the grace and kindness of the tourists impressed me a lot more than the regulars on Oscar night. I really hope I never see them being patronized again.

Hollywood tour bus: Prayitno