The Academy's Folly

March 12, 2010

Numerous things bothered me about this year's Academy Awards. For starters, moving the honorary Oscar ceremony to a different day, thereby refusing Lauren Bacall and Roger Corman the honor of accepting their awards on Oscar night, was an affront to their talent, their legacy and their dignity. Having them stand up for an awkward applause, in which most members of the audience looked uneasy about whether or not to turn the clapping into a standing ovation, was embarrassing to say the least.

What made Oscar night even worse was the glaring omission of some big names from the annual Oscar memorial tribute, mainly Farrah Fawcett, Gene Barry and Bea Arthur. While I don't exactly have a checklist of people who passed away in 2009 to make sure that the Academy included everyone, it is perfectly clear to anyone who watches TCM that the memorial montage on our favorite classic film network included significantly more people than the Academy did. Each and every person in TCM's tribute played a part in film history, and they should have been included in the Oscar tribute as well. Whether it was a small part or a large part; whether they were a big name star or an anonymous technician; they deserved that two or three second tribute in front of the people who are keeping the film tradition alive.

The Academy has been apologizing for leaving people out of this tribute for years -- one of their most painful omissions was Dorothy McGuire. To explain her absence from the memorial, the Academy adopted their age-old excuse of "time limits." Time limit shm-ime limit. They could have easily trimmed the length of one of their dance-numbers-that-belonged-at-the-Tony's-not-the-Oscars or thrown out some of the extra bad jokes. I bring this up, though, because this time around they didn't blame the three big omissions on time limits. They began by trying to say that Fawcett, Arthur and Barry were merely television stars who would be honored by their peers at the Emmys, not the Oscars. But then somebody brought up Michael Jackson, who, despite his appearance on film is definitely considered a music star, not a movie star. And THAT, my friends, is where all heck broke loose. Consider this quote from an article from the AP regarding this topic:

"When asked why Michael Jackson was included when actors were left out, Davis explained that Jackson had appeared in a popular theatrical film recently."
Popular theatrical film recently.

This opens a whole new can of worms. Since when does the date of your most recent film affect your worthiness to be included in a memorial tribute to filmmakers? Sure, Farrah Fawcett didn't make a movie in 2009 or 2008 but maybe she might have if she hadn't been spending all of her time
battling cancer, for crying out loud!

And popular? POPULAR? Now, forget for a minute how this statement relates to the Farrah vs. Michael debacle-- how will this new standard affect future tributes? What of the stars who retired from acting in the 40's and 50's? Will they be shunned from memorial tributes because they haven't been on screen RECENTLY? Or in the latest POPULAR blockbuster? Another excerpt from the article I read:

"In every category, you're going to miss some wonderful people," said Davis, who has helped assemble Oscar's In Memoriam montage since it began in 1993.

Here's my solution: just include everyone who has been instrumental in making a movie. Whether they made 1 movie or 100, whether their last film was released last summer or 60 years ago. Just include them. It makes their fans and their family happy, and it gives them the credit that they deserve. End of story.

And for heaven's sake, either ask the audience to remain quiet or to maintain a steady stream of clapping. The parade of passing is no time for a popularity contest.


emma wallace said...

Oh, I so agree with this post! I almost did a rant after the Grammy's because of how they shuffled off the Lifetime awards in about three seconds (people like Les Paul and Bo Diddley!) to let J-lo talk. It's so insulting and emphasizes celebrity over talent and contribution.

Thank you for writing this!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, exactly-- celebrity over talent.

In that same article they also mentioned, after explaining why they included MJ but not the other three,"Think of all the blogging we would have gotten if we had left him out!"

Yeah, that's definitely the way you should decide who gets included :\ It burns me up!!

NoirGirl said...

I totally agree Kate. The Academy has no excuse for their disgraceful and hurtful behavior. And then trying to feebly justify it after the fact only makes it that much worse. They need to profusely apologize and take your superior advice: stop leaving people out.

I think the world will be able to survive without a few more stupid dirty attempts-at-jokes in favor of paying tribute to everyone.

Millie said...


Thank you so much for writing this, Kate!

It's absolutely true. I didn't watch the Oscars on TV, but did watch much of it on YouTube. It annoyed me to no end.

And did you see that opening "song". GRRR! When they were introducing Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, they showed pictures of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis....etc.

Um, no.

I mean seriously?!!?

That tribute video was disgraceful. And the fact that half the time they were filming James Taylor and showing the video off in the distance. SHEESH! :-(

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Casey- EXACTLY! I don't know what goes through their minds when they say "yeah, um, we're going to have to leave out so-and-so from the tribute because we need to run that video of Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin in bed together"

Millie- ACK I forgot, that was going to be another part of my rant. Who the heck thought it was a good idea to have a live musician during the memorial?!?! And he kept looking so proud of himself, I kept thinking "um, no you're not supposed to look happy during this." GRR!!!

I did see that video at the beginning, but it really didn't bother me as much as this other stuff. If anything it was actually nice to see some references to classic films during The Oscars without some kind of downside to it. UGH and that horror movie tribute, did you notice that they seemed to think the only Hitchcock film in existence is Psycho? Why did they keep showing clips from that over and over, as if it was the only horror movie made before 1970.

Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

Well-said, Kate! I wish you could staple this to the heads of the Academy!

Raquel Stecher said...

Very well spoken Kate!

It seems like the Oscars generates more BS than it does quality content. I've watched the even go downhill since the late 90s.

The TCM montage is only what, 2-3 minutes? And they put everyone in there! They didn't have to put Brad Renfro in when he died, but they did! Oscars can't spare a few minutes? But they can allow Ben Stiller to go on for that amount of time with his dumb and uncomfortable gag RE: Avatar. ::gag::

The Oscars needs a makeover. A good one. One that will add some class back into the show. And it needs it STAT.

Sarah Mann said...

I didn't even watch the Oscars, that's how bad I knew it was going to be!

I totally love this and agree %10000 on the clapping contest. OH that makes me crazy.

YOU GO GIRL. *fist pump*

Millie said...

Oh, I didn't watch the Horror montage...I'm kinda don't want too now! HAHAHA!

Well, the stuff with photos bothered me, because it was like comparing THEM to Alec and Steve. But, it was in a nice way I guess!

Terence Towles Canote said...

Personally, I think it was an affront to Farrah Fawcett, Gene Barry, and Bea Arthur that they were not included during the memorial tribute, but Michael Jackson was. I don't want to get into a debate over Jackson, but one thing I think most of us can agree on--his film credits were less substantial than any of the aforementioned stars.

I must also say I was not pleased at John Hughes getting a separate tribute from the other memorials. To me that hardly seems fair. Why should he receive his own treatment when others don't? As to the treatment they gave Bacall and Corman, I am still too angry to even talk about that...

Sarah said...

Sigh. I stopped watching the Oscars about eight years ago...due mostly to time constraints. Hee hee. No seriously though, the speeches, the posturing, the unnecessary routines, the omissions, and my secret belief that most of it is rigged has kept me from wanting to watch the show. I kinda wish we could just do a throw back to the old days where stars had a little dinner, a few laughs, and most importantly- took less than a minute to graciously accept their due (harking back to time constraints).
Great post and I agree 100%.

Francy said...

Kate, like the other readers, I completely agree with this post. They certainly did not give Bacall and Corman the respect they deserved at the Oscars. Then they had the nerve for the best actor and actress category to put a bunch of random people on the stage for the soul purpose of praising one another for how long...? Creepy...

And I noticed right away Bea Arthur, Gene Barry and Farrah Fawcett weren't included in the tribute. I don't even get why Michael Jackson was included.

Artman2112 said...

the Oscars suck and have sucked for ages. this is the same acedemy that waited until Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas (to name just a few) were well past their prime to honor them for the incredible work they failed to honor them for IN their prime. And dont even get me going about Hitchcock (never won) or Edward G Robinson (never nominated), they can never make up for those oversights!
To banish Lauren Bacall from the main evening ceremony is just shameful, not only because of her own acomplishments and unbeleivable staying power in the industry, but for god's sake people she was Humphrey freakin' Bogart's WIFE!!!!! They did the same to Ray harryhausen years ago and there probably wasnt one person in that audeince who didnt thrill to his movies when they were a kid.

Quelle, i'm with you on Ben Stiller, he needs to go away NOW! ditto for J-ello (no substance but sure jiggles a lot)
and people can wonder why so many of us find old hollywood sooooo much more interesting!

Kim said...

I definitely agree with your points and I think it is awful that the Academy leaves these people out of the memorial. But at the same time I have come to expect nothing from the Oscars. I don't even watch them anymore just wait to see what won on Online.

Elizabeth said...

Great post! Nuts to the Academy and their popularity contests!! :D

Matthew Coniam said...


I agree with every word. All I saw of the show was this rotten tribute section and was horrified to see Jackson there at the expense of the others, and by the sporadic clapping, and the halfwit with the guitar.

And did Richard Todd, Brenda Joyce and Jane Randolph die this year or did I just dream that?

Well done, Kate.

Anonymous said...

poor Farrah its like her career meant nothing to the academy, Really Michael Jackson, he has the Grammies! not that he shouldn't of been on the montage, but if they were running out of space - time it really should of been the musician that got cut out.
Matthew you are right, thats just atrocious!
I didn't like this years oscars, boring and a bit strange. they should sort out their priorities.
Great post! loved it.

RIP Dorothy Janis

Lolita of the Classics said...

Jesus Kate, you're on fire! I love angry posts like these, especially when they are well written like yours.
The Academy has been a fraud the last decades, it's just embarrassing. I think they didn't even mention Brando when he died, or if they did it was within the blink of an eye. And that was of course because he didn't consider them Gods like any worthy actor/actress should. I can't believe they brought up Michael Jackson... He has nothing to do with films, except for some reeaally bad 1980's things. He is worshiped enough outside of the Oscars, so as you said - lay the time on the movie people instead.
And how about Sandra Testicle winning the Best Actress award? The world is spinning out of control.

Sally said...

So true!! Well, spoken!! I cannot believe they moved the honorary Oscar ceremony.. actually, I can believe it. Which makes it worse! So infuriating! And did they really make their choices based on how the blogs would react? That's class. Great decision-making skills right there.

GoddessJJL said...

Well, I seem to be in the minority as I agreed with the academy reasoning in that the three were omitted, being primarily TV "stars" but to include Michael Jackson (1 film!) was a stupid addition. Perhaps it is because a lot of his music has been used and he was in more as a composer than an actor? Money talks in Hollywood land you know. All I know is I stopped watching the Oscars after Babe won special effects over Apollo 13. A TALKING PIG is more Impressive than RECREATING the MOON Program!?!?!?! HA.

vivienne strauss said...

I quit watching the year they gave best actress to Julia Roberts when Ellen Burstyn deserved it hands down. I think it was also the same year that Russell Crowe beat out Javier Bardem. It's been a popularity contest for a very long time.