Stuff Happens, IV: The Reckoning, week 8: It’s Oscar Sunday … zzzzz

Well, it’s Academy Awards Sunday. Remember when that used to be a big deal?

As a longtime movie fan and pop culture junkie, I’ve always watched the Oscars with varying degrees of interest. This year, it’s off the charts – in the wrong direction. Interest for me is near zero. Just like everything else in the Excited States of America, the Oscars have become hopelessly politicized. The entertainment value of the films and the performances have taken a back seat to their cultural significance, or at least the significance as decreed by the deep thinkers and the trolls that inhabit the internet.

The Oscars have become so toxic, such a cultural minefield, that nobody wants to (or is allowed to) host the show. Kevin Hart, a hugely successful stand up comic whose popularity is baffling to me, was announced as the host last month until some long ago jokes he made about how he would feel if his son was gay came back to haunt him. He apologized (naturally) and withdrew as host. The academy promptly gave up looking for a host, knowing that every possible host under the age of 40 would somehow be ruled ineligible due to some past indiscretion. (Martin Short and/or Steve Martin would be ideal, but old very white men are not in fashion today.)

The nine nominated movies have all been dissected for their political implications, and many have been found wanting. It’s almost as if the actual entertainment value of the film is now secondary to its alleged cultural implications.

I’ve hardly seen any of the nominated films, but the three that I have seen have not impressed. The odd-on favourite seems to be Roma, a black-and-white film from Mexico, made for Netflix. Sorry to sound pedestrian, but it’s so boring, only a critic would love it. Which means it will win. Black Panther is a superhero movie, which under normal circumstances would preclude it from nomination. But it’s the first superhero film to feature a black superhero, so suddenly it’s significant. It’s at best passable entertainment. I just saw Bohemian Rhapsody, and it is such a formulaic biopic I have no idea why it was nominated. I haven’t seen any of the other films, and until the nominations were announced, I didn’t even know there was movie called The Favorite, which clearly is not.

Rami Malek … or is it Freddie Mercury? Nah, it’s Rami Malek.

As for the acting nominations, Rami Malek seems to be the favourite for his depiction of Freddie Mercury. He may win for suffering through an entire movie with outsized dental appliances. Odds seem to favour Glenn Close as best actress for some movie called The Wife (which I doubt even Glenn Close has seen). Poor Glenn has been nominated 894 times and never won, so this could be her year. The supporting actors will either go to actors in lead roles that are in the supporting category, or to old-timers who have never been awarded for their work.

It really does seem to be a wide open race for almost every nomination this year. I just wish I cared even a bit.

Is Canada ripe for assassination? Canada’s top civil servant thinks so.

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick told the House of Commons justice committee Thursday he is deeply concerned about Canada’s politics and where things seem to be headed.

“I worry about the rising tide of incitements to violence when people use terms like ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’ in open discourse. Those are the words that lead to assassination,” Wernick told MPs. “I’m worried that somebody’s going to be shot in this country this year during the political campaign.”

Yikes! I can see that problem in the U.S. of A., but here? Does Wernick know something the rest of us don’t? I’m really not sure what to make of this. The political rhetoric in this country, as in every country these days, is set on high at all times. But assassination?

I think (hope?) he’s over-the-top in his concerns, but I do like one other comment he made: “I worry about the trolling from the vomitorium of social media entering the open media arena.” Vomitorium … what a perfect description of social media.

I’ll say this for the National Hockey League. It’s consistent. As in, consistently the worst run major professional sports league.

Fans of the Edmonton Oilers and its superstar Connor McDavid are going insane over a two-game suspension given to McDavid for a hit to the head to a New York Islander. The hit was clearly accidental and barely a glancing blow (he only got a two-minute penalty), but the NHL decided that this borderline infraction was enough to suspend its best player for two games. What other league would suspend its best player – a player with an unblemished record, a player who has never complained about the shabby treatment he receives from inferior players, a guy who is a credit to the game? Meanwhile, the league allows rats to run wild with cheap shots that get the same two-game penalty handed out to McDavid.


Peter Tork in his Monkee days.

Peter Tork, 77, the goofiest member of The Monkees, the made-for-TV band from the 1960s. The Monkees may have been the ‘pre-fab four’ but they produced a number of quality pop hits … Stanley Donen, 94, who directed Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling, Gene Kelly singing in the rain and a host of other moments from some of Hollywood’s greatest musicals … Home Outfitters, the housewares arm of the Hudson’s Bay Company, is closing all 37 of its stores … Payless Shoes is closing all 248 of its Canadian stores, part of the complete shutdown of its operations which totals 2,500 stores.

Stuff Happens, IV: The Reckoning, week 8: It’s Oscar Sunday … zzzzz