Buzz off, Bubbles

This is what’s gotten the most attention in last week’s Vice Presidential debate, though you already know because, well, it’s gotten the most attention.

It was the moment when that fly landed on Mike Pence’s head and stayed there for a full TWO MINUTES, during which time he did absolutely NOTHING.

Like, he didn’t even flinch.  Could you imagine doing that?  What a circus trick.

Same, fly, same.

I kept thinking of that scene in the movie Ordinary People where Conrad, the emotionally repressed, suicidal teen played by Timothy Hutton, bemoaned in therapy how much effort it takes for him to actually feel something.

To which his spirited Jewish psychiatrist, played by Judd Hirsch, replies, and I’m paraphrasing:

Do you know how much effort it takes NOT to feel something?

This is harder, and more delicious.

This seemed the perfect analysis to me of Pence, the religious conservative former governor of Indiana and current Vice President. The man who is said to not eat alone with another woman or be in a place that serves alcohol unless his wife is present. 

The man who, for decades, has also been simultaneously dogged by rumors that he’s a repressed homosexual, with stories from the past claiming that as a kid even his own father once gave him the nickname of Bubbles on a car ride with the family because he was so, um, effervescent. 

Don’t act like you didn’t giggle #bubbles4ever

Well, all I can say is I would’ve preferred Bubbles compared to the things said about my own queer self at various times growing up.

Though never by my father.  At least to my face. 

That, in itself, could explain a lot about the differences between us.  I watch the debate alone with my husband of 32 years (Note: Well, technically only 5 years of marriage but 32 years together.   We weren’t able to legally marry for the other 27 and, if Pence had his way, we never have been able to) and together we root for the woman of color positioned 12 feet away from him beside that thick shield of Plexiglas.

Yes, you are Senator Harris.

Meanwhile, Pence sits up on the stage purposefully and unapologetically interrupting her as the running mate and chief cheerleader of the first openly white supremacist POTUS in modern times.

Pence and I may be close to the same age but as far as I know, that’s where the similarities end.  Unless you believe the now disavowed comments a college roommate of his once made that Pence used to like looking at muscle magazines back in the day.

Okay yes, I will admit to occasionally being tempted by a publication or two like that in my youth.  But I got over that phase once I realized that revering a man who appears muscular on the outside is not necessarily as desirable as it seems.

Though it can be.

It often feels this ridiculous #YESILIFTBRO

Nor is it a representation of who he is on the inside.  Though certainly it could be.

But you never learn any of that stuff when you stiffly refuse to feel the various stimulations on and in your head that almost everyone else watching you can so easily see.

When you are so pursed and controlled that you can’t even admit there’s a fly on your head, or perhaps worse yet, can’t even feel it, God knows what else you’re missing.  Or choosing to miss.

How much hairspray? Seriously

Or, well, allowing to happen so as not to face the reality of who you are, what you’ve become and, most importantly, what you now represent.

And what people are truly seeing when they look at you.

Idina Menzel – “Let It Go”

Oscars So RIGHT

How is it that after 92 years the Oscars finally came up with both a telecast and a list of winners to be proud of?

Hitting the right notes, literally, for just about everything, the 2020 Oscars will probably be best remembered as the first time in history a foreign… ahem… INTERNATIONAL film won best picture.

Show tagline: PARASITE, NO HOST

Not only that, Parasite writer-director Bong Joon-ho took home THREE more Oscars for best director, best screenplay and best international (formerly foreign) film.

The hottest name in Hollywood!

And it was only a mere five decades ago when another Oscar winning writer-director, Billy Wilder, famously quipped to his cameraman:

Shoot a few scenes out of focus. I want to win the foreign film award.

That Parasite managed to touch the hearts and souls of a majority of Oscar voters is not in doubt. But what also seems clear is that the choice of a non-American film about economic inequality as the Motion Picture Academy members’ big winner was a very clear and very present way for voters to send out another message to the world. And that message is:

2020 America, and Americans, are NOT living in a bubble or behind a WALL. We are not isolationists who want to disengage with you. We, in fact, do get IT, even if it doesn’t always seem that way these days So don’t give up on us…yet.

I’m paraphrasing, of course.

In fact, I might be reaching or making this up out of whole cloth. Though truly, I don’t think so.

How I will try to think of 2019 in America

Hollywood might not literally speak for all 327 million people living in the U.S. but as an industry it is one of its chief representatives to the rest of the world. American movies reflect America to international audiences and what the Oscars choose to represent as the best of the best carries that weight.

Taken in that light the major category victories for Parasite were no small thing. No, they certainly don’t change the state of the world but, at the same time, they proclaim that things aren’t staying stagnant. If the same staid Academy that made the safe choice of Green Book as last year’s best picture is now doing a full 360 and saying a South Korean film dealing with class warfare is the gold standard, well, who knows what else is in store from any number of American industries looking to project some message to the outside of who we really are.

Don’t ever look back!

Oh yes, hope springs eternal. But then again, why not?

This message of change, or perhaps inclusion was reflected all throughout the Oscar telecast on Sunday night.

Singer-songwriter-performer extraordinaire Janelle Monae had Oscar’s best musical opening in history as she went from mock Mister Rogers garb to full blown, self-proclaimed, queer Black artist singing revamped lyrics to her 2010 tune Come Alive. Sashaying her way through a panoply of back up dancers and celebrities, she actually managed to make the Academy Awards seem hip and happening for the first time in…..well….EVER.

At one point THIS happened

But that was only one of a string of ingenious, nostalgic and just plain awe inspiring musical moments.

We had Idina Menzel belting a Disney song along with belters from more than a dozen countries in THEIR native languages.

Then there was Eminem appearing seemingly out of nowhere to rap his 2003 Oscar winning song Lose Yourself with some updated lyrics evoking the era of Trump.

OK so the song is as old as Billie Eilish, so what?

Soon Elton John was pounding on his red piano and singing the soon-to-be Oscar winning song he co-wrote with longtime lyricist partner Bernie Taupin for their autobiographical film Rocketman.

That followed twice nominated Cynthia Erivo also bringing the house down with her inspirational ballad Stand Up from her film about abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Harriet. 

And her dress was PERFECTION #QueenCynthia #EGOTiscoming

Then, as a capper, we got a haunting version of the Beatles’ Yesterday sung by this year’s multi-Grammy winner, 18-year-old Billie Eilish, in memory of the many film artists we lost this past year.

And amid all of that was this quite subversive high comic moment of the evening:

Rebel Wilson and James Corden entering in the crazy train makeup and costumes from their 2019 film disaster, Cats, to give this simple introduction to the award they were tasked to present:

As cast members of the motion picture CATS nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects.

Proving it’s never to soon…

Certainly one could gripe about a few misfired jokes from various presenters or any number of times when any one of us knew the wrong person, or people, were standing center stage with an Oscar in their hands that we felt belonged to someone else.

Still, it is difficult to argue with what most of those who did win were trying to say in their acceptance speeches.

They rambled, but we stuck with them

Aside from thanking their immediate families, or their teams, or their friends or cast mates, almost every major speech felt like a sincere outreach to an international audience for us all to find some way come together rather than to continue to be pulled apart by the circumstances of our times.

While the ceremony theoretically honors the art and craft of film, this year’s Oscars somehow felt more like a hand extending far beyond Hollywood and the borders of the U.S. towards the rest of the world in solidarity.

PLUS This is now Oscar-winning, so really, all is right with the world

Though on second thought, perhaps it’s more like a cry from those of us within to everyone watching on the outside for…help?

Janelle Monae – Oscars 2020 Opening