Hollywood Cinema: Whats Happening to the Dream Factory?

When one of the main viral highlights of the Oscar show is footage of a 75 year old pensioner, (Jack Nicholson), whose legs appear to be getting shorter as he gets older, (half-playfully) leering at the 22 year old Best Actress winner, (Jennifer Lawrence – who happened to be the main feature in the main ‘highlight’ of the show, falling over as she accepted her prestigious award), it’s a clear sign that the global coverage of the annual industry shin-dig is a modern shadow of the stiff, slick, and quite strict representation of what is once was – and probably not for the better.For many serious film fans, the Oscars kissed goodbye to any notions of artistic credibility in 1991, when Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves, ousted Martin Scorsese’s bold, game-changing, Goodfella’s, for the coveted Best Picture Oscar. There had been previous instances of filmic injustice: most notably, in 1980, when Scorsese, once again, had created a landmark work of obvious technical and emotional brilliance, with Raging Bull, only for it to be pipped by Robert Redford’s Ordinary People, another star-directed vehicle that revelled in its safe boundaries and worthy credentials.Expecting the Oscar’s to appear credible on any level may well sound like a farcical notion in itself: what could be possibly be credible in an industry mired in mad money and barmy acts of make-believe? But credible it used to be, back in the 40’s, up until the 90’s even, back when celebrity was a relatively closed-off, crack-free (in more ways than one) world unto itself. BBC coverage of the event was akin to a serious breaking news stories nowadays. Poe-faced and respectful, it ran throughout the night, all night – the whole shebang, from the long-winded walk-in onto the announcement of every single award (clocking in around 6 hours), until the curtain was drawn and the moneyed inmates were allowed to hit the drink and anything else that we knew nothing of in those days – like some kind of alternative invite in itself: you were there, but not quite, not really. If a star would have fallen in the way that Lawrence did, chances are TV would have cut away to another ‘scene’, to something less damaging and crude.For in that bygone age, the mere glimpse of Meryl Streep, or Dustin Hoffman, or Sylvester Stallone, elevating the red carpet, or just simply sitting and staring in a chair, was enough to satisfy one’s celebrity curiosity; at least until next year. Our whole beings had yet to become obsessed – and even possessed in some instances – by the glitzy gravy train. Audiences were still very content and satisfied with seeing their actors as actors playing roles, developing characters etc. The bottomless, ravenous, and quite simply ridiculous hunger for mainly salacious, or piddling media news had yet to set-in like some unshakeable, possibly terminal, cold. The general consensus ran that actors were there to play parts, to embody the world of make-believe. They were not seen as they are today, as reflection of attainable grandeur and beauty and dubious perfection and potential Twitter friends. And so, bland as it could be – and probably was – TV coverage towed a similar line of distance and respect.The importance of this dry approach meant that a certain level of mystery was still being maintained: an aura of unattainability. That’s not to say a company has no right in showing bloopers or moments of mild disgrace. Even if one felt this immoral, or just plain boring, media coverage has gone beyond the argument (as it so often does). And so in light of this sad awakening, this odd need to see actors in various states of de-glamoured disgrace, or as ‘real people’, viewers are continually depriving themselves of genuine kicks, similar to what audiences used to experience, back when actors only appeared as themselves once a year, and most of us were thankful to see it over and done with, until they became themselves again, living their on-screen lives, in the cinema, where they belong/ed: how richly ironic this isn’t the case anymore.