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The Oscars Will Always Have Its Audience

Some called the monologue boring. Others, risky-safe. You could call it a little of both, but – the ever-dubious but! – it was expertly hinged, propped on a rock solid foundation, and was delivered with the right balance of fuck-you cool that is rare these days.

And it worked. Kimmel may be squarer than most hosts, but there was something about him that struck the right tone. There was no sense of a political or cultural agenda, no sense of overachieving, under-delivering, or freewheeling. It was just good old clunk-a-clunk, chugga-thump gear changing, which, bar a few awkward moments (you gotta have them when messing with a room full of insecure narcissists) cleared the line with confidence, leaving an interesting aftertaste. The jokes will probably age well, infused as they were with the right combination of what makes critical humor humorous rather than mean and pointless. (The proof is in the pudding. Safely savory, is another term that comes to mind.)

Well done! Because the Academy Awards isn’t standup comedy, nor should it try to be. It’s an awards show, and a few clear right angles are the best way to bring out the slick edges of the filmmaking community. Less is more, as any Captain America Variant might say, all that supercharged cliché. It works.

And if the ratings fall, fuck them. Not everything is supposed to be a circus. The Oscars will always have its audience, and playing to that audience with unashamed reserve can only set the right tone, keeping the event true. Let the Awards celebrate the extraordinary producing, directing, and acting performances alongside everything about the art and business of filmmaking without trying to one-up those achievements. The honored extravaganzas need a stage, not an upstaging. Let the honorees shine. Let us celebrate what was created in the past year, casting a light on those who created it, and let the night be a tad square so that the fabulous may shine, their efforts truly recognized.

From your socratic Spin Doctor