Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Movies: R. Awards show: PG.

Such a nice, family-values kind of evening that Academy Awards was the other night. Everybody was so clean and well-behaved. Stars brought their children and their parents. Actresses kept their cleavage under control. Sofia Coppola represented the third generation in her family to win an Oscar, and presented an award with her dad. Speeches were boring but well-mannered, no one forgot to thank his or her spouse, and the evening ended on the early side so the folks at home could get a good night's sleep. It was all family-friendly enough to make you forget that every one of the winning performances came in an R-rated film noted for violent content, and that a lot of the whiz-bang technical wizardry "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" got awarded for was in the service of really cool looking battle scenes and frightening imagery. But hey, none of that at the awards! Sean Penn didn't hit anybody! Charlize Theron was back to looking beautiful! Our movies may be filled with violence and sexual content, but we're really nice folks with families like anybody else!

Maybe the PG vibe was an intentional reaction to the firestorm ignited by Janet Jackson's Super Bowl exposure, or just an amazing coincidence. The show got better ratings this year than last, probably more on the weight of "Lord of the Rings" fans tuning in than anything else, but there's sure to be a certain amount of crowing that a well-run, scandal-free show brought viewers back to the tube. I'm not so sure, though -- maybe the producers ought to think again about just how much attention the Super Bowl glitch got. I'm thinking that if they really want Oscar ceremony ratings to soar, they ought to guarantee that sometime during the show, some starlet's going to have a wardrobe malfunction. We may have to tuck the kids in early, but we'll be glued to our sets.

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