The Odd Couple

How bad are the Oscars? How about this bad: even when they do something absolutely righteous, they can still turn your stomach. It’s been known for a week or two that the Academy wants to give Jean-Luc Godard one of those honorary Oscar doohickeys, and when the decision was announced it actually hit a soft spot in me, for if there’s one sure bet in this world, it’s that Godard’s feelings about the tinseled, self-congratulatory, power-stroking side of Hollywood are no pose or put-on, but represent a case of unalloyed Pure-D Real McCoy disgust. Surely, the Academy’s decision-makers understood this, too, just as they must also understand that there’s actually a negative percent chance that the 80-year old director would fly all the way to California just to thank a bunch of dozing, half-drunk millionaires.

And yet they did it anyway. Well, bully for them, I thought. I like people who can climb down off their high horse for a good cause, and Hollywood has no better cause than letting the most important director of the last 60 years know that, however much they courted William Friedkin and Clint Eastwood in that time, they’ve always kept one eye on him and his accomplishments. That they’d give this skinny little avant-garde frog the same award that Gish and Chaplin and Bob Fucking Hope all took home, knowing full well what mischief he could wreak with the opportunity should he choose to—well, it all bespoke a bigger, less hidebound Academy than I’m used to seeing. I liked it even better when I heard they’re giving the same award to the film historian Kevin Brownlow, a move showing that someone’s definitely awake at the switch.

As it turns out, though, the train is pulling back into the same old station. There was no risk, no big moment planned after all. The awards for Godard, Brownlow, Eli Wallach, and Francis Coppola are all to be handed out in a separate ceremony in November, three long months before the televised gala that everybody in the world thinks of as “the Oscars”. This would be a pisser even if it affected only Wallach—a Hollywood man if ever there was one, he’s still answering the bell at 94 in The Ghost Writer—but this is the thanks Kevin Brownlow gets? That freaking Godard gets? Well—fine, then. To paraphrase another bunch of undervalued losers, “You can take your trophy and shove it straight up your ass.”

Just to prove I’m not a hard-hearted man, here’s some news that’s a little more encouraging to the human spirit, the obituary for Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, passed away age 91:

In 2004, Inspector Pine spoke during a discussion of the Stonewall uprising at the New York Historical Society. At the time of the raid, he said, the police “certainly were prejudiced” against gays, “but had no idea about what gay people were about”….When someone in the audience said Inspector Pine should apologize for the raid, he did.

The context of that apology gets fuller airing in this account, which also contains Pine’s classic line: “If I had known that Judy had died at that point, I wouldn’t have had the raid.”

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