It was announced late last year that, in the interest of time, the Academy Awards will not be showcasing the Best Song nominees’ live performances. The reasons for doing so seem pretty self-evident. Though the live music performances are the only aspect of the Oscars that could be considered “interesting” or “engaging” they do nothing to allow self-congratulation in the film industry, which is just, just unacceptable. I mean, it’s not really a circle jerk if one of the people is facing outside the circle, now is it?
However, it has been deemed that what DOES keep the circle jerk circle intact is Cirque de Soleil. Why? Because the Academy is going to make this night of in-jokes and self-congratulation whimsical and beloved as shit.
My first thought was, couldn’t they do that with an appearance by The Muppets?
And to an extent, they are, as Miss Piggy and Kermit will be presenting an award on next Sunday’s telecast, but at the end of the day, they’re puppets, and puppets don’t convey the classiness of the Oscars the way a mute bunch of Frenchmen in unitards do.
In context, the selection of Cirque de Soleil is in pretty good keeping with theme with this year’s ceremony which appears to be, “Eh. Sure.” I mean, when you’ve got Billy Crystal hosting something, the logical move is to pepper that something with clichéd performances by a group like Cirque de Soleil. Like Crystal, Cirque de Soleil manages to capture everyone’s attention while entertaining no one.
The only promise of Cirque de Soleil performing anywhere, is that, over time, the probability that something very terrible will happen keeps increasing. I don’t wish any of the members harm, but the ethereal being that is “Cirque de Soleil”; I wish that a lot of harm. I hope Cirque de Soleil gets bludgeoned by Hugh Jackman’s cane during one of his inevitable song and dance numbers.
My problem with Cirque de Soleil mirrors my problems with the Academy telecast, so it’s very fitting that the Academy really milks this announcement for all it’s worth today. The fact is, Cirque de Soleil is a pretty impressive mesh of choreography, on-stage talent, music, and production, exactly like the Oscars. It’s natural to respect such a spectacle. But extremely hard to enjoy.
The Academy raises the bar so high for spectacle and esteem, that its awards show neglects the entertainment value of the evening. People are supposed to have fun during the Oscars, both on stage and off, and that hasn’t happened for a long time. Sure, with The Muppets presenting, audiences will get a nostalgic chuckle, and perhaps a whiff of fun, but the Oscars use these instances far too sparingly, instead taking themselves far too seriously for a show about movie awards.
A few things I would rather see than Cirque de Soleil performing a competent, or even impressive routine:
But mostly, more than I have ever wanted anything in the world, I would like Billy Crystal to take the stage to introduce Cirque de Soleil, only to announce that they would not be performing. A loud “thunk” would indicate that the Kodak Theater’s doors had been locked shut. All lights would dim, save for one spotlight illuminating a void on the stage, until Academy President Tom Sherak stepped briskly into the illuminated circle. He would clear his throat, then declare to the crowd:
Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the Academy, and fans of cinema alike, thank you for joining us on Hollywood’s most important evening. For 84 years now, the Oscars have commemorated not only the winners of the evening, but have also served as a snapshot of the state of film in particular, and, to a lesser extent, the state of the world in general.
However, in recent years, Hollywood has lost its way. Unchecked hubris and studios beholden to money above art have led to complacency among filmmakers. Sure, films like The Artist and Tree of Life serve as testaments to the medium, but it’s a sad state of affairs when films appear to be made for the sole purpose of getting an Oscar. The system has been manipulated. The rift between art and entertainment has grown too wide. The system must be overhauled, and I, as Academy President, have taken it upon myself to reinvent the system. Tasked with this reinvention, I cannot be burdened by insubordination of Academy members or, God forbid, “celebrities.”
The 84th Annual Oscars are over. The rest of the awards will be placed in an incinerator. It is my complete pleasure to inform you that you are all now attendants of the 1st Annual Hollywood Hunger Games. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the book. At least, I hope you are, as there will be no explanation given. Your time begins now.
Good luck to you all.
At that point, the house lights would come on while “Ride of the Valkyrie” comes blaring out of the orchestra pit. A puzzled, horrified look would appear on the face of every person in attendance until someone (probably Clint Eastwood or Tyler Perry) would just commence beating the ever-living shit out of the person next to them, serving as a catalyst for the orgy of violence that was to take place.
Bruce Vilanch would cackle shrilly, then announce to the crowd, “Let the games begin!” as he shot flaming arrows into the curtains of the Kodak theater in a clever homage to Inglourious Basterds.
And that’s when things would get interesting…
Chapter 2 to follow…