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Classless Oscars
February 28, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The first words out of host Chris Rock's mouth were "Sit your **** down." Guess it was clear from the get-go that the 77th Annual Academy Awards show would be short on class.

Rock may be funny in a comedy club setting, but he leaves a lot to be desired when he's representing our culture to the world. After seeing the clips of Johnny Carson, which were part of a tribute to the much-missed late-night pioneer, the contrast between the two was striking.

Rock opened the evening with a standup act that was so mediocre it made one long for the Whoopi Goldberg days. His timing was off kilter. His Bush jokes were hackneyed. And his political humor was transparently gratuitous, as if designed to please the liberal Hollywood establishment while poking a few fingers in red states' eyes. The smidgeon of patronizing references to the troops was not enough to offset the damage done by Rock's words about their commander in chief. And the celebrity images of laughter, applause and nodding approval that projected across the globe made it all the more appalling.

Rock was apparently trying to score some points with mainstream America by making a disparaging comment about Michael Moore's weight and by conducting interviews with people on the street to demonstrate how out of touch Hollywood is.

But after hearing from countless numbers of folks, I suspect Rock's attempts did nothing to assuage the rage that people felt regarding the disgraceful dismissal of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."

Consistent with the critics and pre-Oscar awards shows, "The Passion of the Christ" was shut out of the three categories it was nominated for: Makeup, Score and Cinematography.

In the end, there were no real surprises. The attempt at innovation by having the nominees come up on stage like beauty contestants or accept awards in the middle of the aisles fell flat. So I have a few of my own awards to bestow.

Most Egregious Occurrence:
Triple Snub of "The Passion of the Christ"

Award Most on Target:
"The Incredibles" for Best Animated Feature

Shining Moment:
The tribute to Johnny Carson

Most Uncomfortable Presenter:
Tim Robbins, who wore a peace symbol on his tie as he smoldered over Rock's comment about boring us to death with his politics

Most Blatant Effort at Pandering to the Youth Market:
P. Diddy (aka Puff Daddy), who was a presenter

Most Overused Celebrity:
Beyonce, who sang three out of the five nominations for Original Song

Classiest Act:
Morgan Freeman, who reminded us of what a real movie star looks and acts like

Best Acceptance Speech:
Jamie Foxx, who reminded us of the importance of gratitude and the beauty of expressing it

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2005
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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