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WORKING WEEKEND: Taking A Look Back From the Future

21 Mar, 2002 By: Bruce Apar

MARCH 24, 2061 – The award formerly known as Oscar is due to be meted out yet again this weekend, for the 133rdh time. Okay, so it's not punishment – for the winners. But we say meted in homage to the four unfortunates in each category who, during the Awards' first century, not only were fated merely to lose in front of billions of gawkers, but lost after weeks of being handicapped like horses and dissected like cadavers in now-defunct ink-and-paper mags like Entertainment Weekly. (While hard to fathom in 2061, senior citizens will nostalgically recall a time when people actually tolerated waiting a week to receive info on printed sheets crudely stitched or stapled together.)

These days, the American Society of Sentimental Hollywood Oldtimers (formerly the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) is doing its best to keep Oscar youthful (though some among the celluoid cardiac crowd are particularly galled by ASSHO licensing his image for a Viagra ad campaign that doubles as a recruitment vehicle for the Society, "Become an Oscar Member," but we say don't give the old golden boy such a hard time in his golden years).

But in this 60th anniversary year of Grand Wizard Steven Spielberg's epochal predictor of social engineering, A.I. – and next year the 80th anniversary of his equally prescient glimpse into alienation, E.T.-- it's fitting that such once-upon-a-time silly human spectacles as the Oscarcast (we can't make this up, that is what it was called in its hayseed day) are available for interested viewsers [sic] on Eplex.

Lest we forget, profound post-humanistic tracts like Star Wars and A.I. were humiliated at the clay feet of now-feeble Oscar. The George Lucas masterwork lost its year's grand-prize Oscar to a trifle by a now-obscure but then-notorious misanthrope with the unlikely name of Woody Allen.

In the dark days of 2002 A.I., incredibly, was not even acknowledged with one of five nominations for the so-called Best Picture, yet went on to be declared the year's Best DVD, despite the glaring navigation glitch of omitting "Play All" buttons on its supplemental menus, forcing viewsers to click separately on each featurette.

Then again, Lord Baz Luhrmann, who at the time had polarized bi-illogical audiences with his groundbreaking, form-flouting classic Moulin Rouge, was roundly refused a nomination as that year's finest director, which went to a now-obscure ex-actor-turned-director Ronald Howard, whose cutesy Cocoon was a disciple of The Grand Wizard's sacred E.T.

Needless to say, the spurning of high priests Spielberg and Luhrmann – not to mention assorted other worthies such as Eugene Hackman -- was obviously the beginning of the end for the Oscars, whose voting members seemed intent on proving they had a deadened sensibility of what it takes to become immortal 60 years on, whether in the flesh-and-blood minority or cyborg mainstream.

That year did acquit itself with actor honors going to Denzel Washington and actress kudos to Nicole Kidman, but that wasn't enough to prevent the newly insurgent Hollywoodent movement of digital artists from getting the boost they were waiting for, thanks to Oscar palpably losing its once-lustrous allure and, worse, its relevance in a brave new world of alienation, artificial intelligence and limitless digitalities. Oscar, we hardly knew ye.

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