Opening Thoughts For Monday

I’ll be back later this evening with my Ro-Sham-Bo “honoring”, but first, a few thoughts about the weekend just passed:

— Thrilled to see Heath Ledger win the Oscar.  No surprise here — but it’s still good to see the Academy honor the work of someone who wasn’t in the stereotypical “Oscar-worthy” film.  Comic book movies — like the books they’re derived from — have never been taken seriously before as “real” works of art, but the success of The Dark Knight — as well as the critical acclaim it garnered — is hopefully the first step towards changing that.  However, we really shouldn’t be surprised that …

— Mickey Rourke didn’t win the Best Actor Award for his work in The Wrestler — even if he deserved it.  No offense intended to Sean Penn and his work in Milk, but by all accounts, Rourke’s turn as a washed-up, trying-to-reclaim-the-past-glory pro wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson deserved the statue on Sunday.  So why didn’t he win?  It’s actually pretty simple, if you think about it. 

Milk was a film that focused on the life of gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, a topic that certainly resonated with those in California following the passage of Proposition 8 last year.  Contrast that with a movie that used — well — professional wrestling as its backdrop.  The spectacle of pro wrestling has never been taken seriously in mainstream America, even in the heyday of Hulk Hogan and the like.  Or has no one here ever heard the joke about “What has 10 teeth and an I.Q of 80?  The first 5 rows of a wrestling audience.”  Wrestling is an activity that most of Hollywood, I can well imagine, looks down upon, as well as looking down upon the people who count on it as their way to make a living.

Considering that the Oscars, like pretty much every award given out these days — sports, Hollywood, or other — isn’t always about honoring the people who did the best job but often is about advancing an agenda or making a “statement”, then Penn winning over Rourke shouldn’t have surprised anyone at all.  An “important” movie is always going to get more acclaim — that’s nothing revolutionary so far as the Academy goes, and in their own way, that’s their version of  “safe” and “predictable”.  Movies about “unimportant” things — like wrestling, for instance — are going to be relegated to the same Oscar-limbo that outstanding work in comedies usually is (or perhaps, someone can explain why James Franco didn’t get a nod for his role in Pineapple Express — though Robert Downey’s nomination for Tropic Thunder was a rare, pleasant surprise).  Until last night, comic book movies had been in that limbo as well, so TDK’s recognition this year means that maybe that will change — someday.

— And finally, a heartfelt thank you from myself and my family to everyone who has offered their support for my aunt, who was just diagnosed with cancer.  Sadly, the latest prognosis we’ve learned of is very bad.  I ask that you continue to keep her and the rest of the family in your thoughts.

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