Risque business

February 26, 2013

Until Sunday night, I thought Versace, Prada and Dior were the No. 1 line of the Montreal Canadiens. But after watching stars trek down the red carpet before the Oscars, I now know they are fashion designers.

Exactly why I watched the Oscars pre-show is anyone’s guess, but I can tell you this: As a way to kill an hour before dinner, it makes dozing off while waiting for salmon to bake seem almost exciting.

Most of the clothes in my closet are from the 80-percent-off rack at Kohl’s, so “Who are you wearing?” isn’t a question I have to answer very often. When I do, I may say, “Oh, this old thing? It’s just a little something Levi threw together from scraps of leftover denim.”

Or, if I really want to sound tres chic, I may offer, “Mon chapeau? I picked up at my French milliner’s – Jaysee Pen-ay?”

Anyway, “Who are you wearing?” sounds like what a cannibal might say, right before he asks, “Who are we eating?”

Yet it was by far the dominant query being posed by the terminally perky, apparently 22-inch-tall Kristin Chenoweth, who served as one of the red carpet’s impediments to celebrities making their way unscathed into the awards ceremony. Better questions, in my mind, would have included: “Eat much?” “You know your tummy still sticks out a bit, don’t you?” And, finally, “What happened to the sausage from that casing you’re wearing?”

When the salmon was ready, I stopped watching the parade. But I returned in time to view the entire awards ceremony – the first time in recent memory that I’ve done so. I probably won’t do so again.

As an “event” – which is what everyone wants it to be, even when TV “events” seem to happen more often than three-day sales at Macy’s – Sunday’s Oscars came up short. It was a bit more entertaining than watching Kanye West stomp around wearing a leather skirt during the Hurricane Sandy benefit concert last December. But it also was predictable – even with first-time host Seth MacFarlane, creator of the animated series “Family Guy,” which has been pushing the boundaries of good taste since 1998.

“Family Guy” attacks all sacred cows, is widely watched and, surely, well known by Oscar attendees. So it’s hard to believe that anyone in the audience could have been offended by much of MacFarlane’s humor. He touched on spousal abuse, slavery and being gay, all in the name of comedy. Yet his line about John Wilkes Booth being the only actor to “get inside the head of Lincoln” seems to have drawn the most ire. But what did people expect? A “Family Guy” episode once featured a scenario during which the head of a JFK Pez dispenser was blown off by a bullet.

But I have to remember that this is the America where, during a special presentation of “Schindler’s List” on Saturday, someone thought it necessary to blot out the nipples of women in bed, but not those of women in a shower. Apparently showing a naked woman in bed implies that she is unclean, but showing a naked woman in the shower implies that she is merely dirty. And, of course, showing Jews being shot in the head is just fine.

But I’m surprised at the surprisingly prudish turn again risqué humor on Sunday. Hollywood may have made the transition to digital film-making, but it apparently still prefers its humor as the grainy, flickering, black-and-white film version espoused by Don Rickles: religious, ethnic, alcohol and sex jokes followed by profuse apologies.

Is there hope for the 2014 Oscars? Zombie Bob Hope, maybe?



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