Hollywood Take 2: When Outsides Don’t Match Insides

3 Mar

Other than the Fashion coverage, we probably don’t have to remind you of how gratuitously smarmy the Academy Award pre-show coverage was.  Cheesy, sappy, or another description, I don’t know what food-based metaphor to use.  You can only kiss up to movie stars in so many ways.  Instead of delving further into that coverage we will move into what you are probably expecting.  That would be the events that occurred on the inside of the Kodak center.  Actually we will do both, because the contrast between insides and outsides was one of the most interesting aspects of this year’s Oscars.

Essential stories:

  1. Somewhat balanced and almost proportionate gender presentation
  2. Sacha Baron Cohen creates dictator stunt then refuses to attend event
  3. The Sammy Davis Jr. controversy, that wasn’t


  • Given the Oscar’s long lineage of being: organized and directed by men, managed on air by male hosts, and driven by films and creative producers who are predominantly male; it’s pretty easy to characterize the show (recently) as being fairly sexist.  Gender wise, why else wouldn’t the other sex be better represented?  That said the Academy Awards have been working to diminish this perception, and this year a noticeable balance was noticed.  Though the academy doesn’t control all of the movies that are developed and/or could be nominated, the predominantly female casts of the “The Help” and “Bridesmaids” assured the possibility of greater gender equity than the past.  Movies dedicated to Albert Nobbs, Marilyn Monroe and Margaret Thatcher also stacked the deck in a far more even manner but the content of films is the least predictable variable from year to year.  Though the Academy doesn’t control all the reporting of the event, it does take part in a great deal of the fashion evaluations.  Now an almost reoccurring aspect of the show, other gender driven characteristics may appear to be less apparent though they are none-the-less still there.
  • Though discussion of male actors does occur, this reporting tends to disproportionately address women yet this contrast with more masculine traditions (we are less likely to notice) balances our digestion of the show.  For instance, take male host Billy Crystal’s frequently expressed male perspective, “Hey front row, why don’t we team up and buy the Dodgers.”  Again if we combine the indoors take on “man’s world” priorities and marry that with the outdoor feminine fashion commentary and we get a semblance of gender parity that we don’t frequently hear at this show.  Was this perfect, absolutely not! If we return to content, women play no or way too little role in directing (feature films, soundtrack development, screenplay writing, etc.) and more importantly for the show (the Oscar telecast, the orchestral composing and management, show hosting, broadcast producing, camera management, etc.) to assume we’ve made any real progress.  But at least we’re starting to hear what it might one day sound like.  Below find a more severe evaluation of 2012 movie content that doesn’t address the overall Academy telecast.


  • You may remember Sasha Baron Cohen being banned from appearing on the Oscar red carpet as his character Adm. Gen. Shaba Aladdin from his upcoming movie [1]“The Dictator.”  Yet in an amazing institutional change of mind, by the end of that same week Cohen was welcomed instead and was granted access to as many parts of the ceremony as one might desire.  Remembering Baron Cohen’s irreverent stunt at the MTV awards one might wonder why might the Academy make this change? Some might assume the Academy did not want to appear staid or predictable. Regardless Cohen’s response was an even bigger mystery.
  • Deadline.com [2] claimed the comedian’s absence from the award ceremony was an apparent snub after he successfully completed the promotional stunt. Achieving the video footage that was circulated in the media all over the world, Baron Cohen apparently left.  Oddly what happened outside on the red carpet had no second act indoors.


  • Appearing fairly quickly during Billy Crystal’s signature comedic film review monologue, the comedian plays the late entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. incidentally made up to look exactly like the late rat packer.  Addressing the industry’s uneven history of racial hostility, many including comedian Paul Scheer interpreted the skit as racist because it supposedly presented the singer in “blackface.”  Asked about the televised event, Davis’s granddaughter responded very differently than what many expected.
  • Instead of drawing a parallel between Crystal’s interpretation and the one associated with Al Jolson’s “Jazz Singer” stereotype she surprised instead of answering by means of assumed convention.  Outer appearances being as subjective as they are, apparently make-up in the hands of one endearing production doesn’t produce the intent of another.  The Hollywood Reporter [3] claimed Tracey Davis said, “I am 100 percent certain that my [grand] father is smiling.”  Though the sensitivity of many audience members may have been gratifying to many African-Americans, obviously Davis’s granddaughter could distinguish the difference between a demeaning insult and an affectionate portrayal.

 Please join our open discussion on this topic all this weekend. 


Article References:

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/sacha-baron-cohen-banned-_n_1295283.html

[2] http://www.deadline.com/2012/02/where-did-sacha-baron-cohen-go-after-being-grabbed-by-security-dinner-at-vanity-fair/

[3] http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/billy-crystal-oscar-blackface-sammy-davis-jr-296219

4 Responses to “Hollywood Take 2: When Outsides Don’t Match Insides”

  1. Open Book March 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM #

    Great job CR!

    Wow! I had no idea some people were trying to parallel BC Sammy Davis Jr. impression at the Oscars to the Jazz Singer “blackface”? CR remember last year when the New York Times wrote an article entitled “White Out” regarding the Oscars not featuring many people of color either nominated or presenting at the event? Anyway, because they were trying to cause friction between African Americans and HW they thought lets try it again this year with BC’s impression? IDK it just seems so predictable and wrong to claim foul play here. What do u think?

    • Comic Relief March 4, 2012 at 10:12 PM #


      I honestly think a few well-intentioned people thought an infraction occurred and maybe it was a good idea for them bring up the issue. Thank God these people exist now. I remember when they didn’t.

      Yet I also agree with you also. There are a lot of unscrupulous scandal mongers who like to scream “racism” in a crowded movie thinking they can garner some headlines in papers and on CNN.

      Fortunately, there were none to be had here.

      • Open Book March 4, 2012 at 10:45 PM #

        Great point CR!!

        What did u think of Cohen’s stunt at the Oscars? Did u find it inappropriate, distracting or in poor taste?

  2. Comic Relief March 4, 2012 at 10:58 PM #

    I don’t know whether he….

    1. ..showed a lot of restraint indoors by not competing with his outdoor stunt.


    2. …he just ran out of ideas..

    I will assume the first. I think the behavior is still strange until it is explained.

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