Dissing Lauren Bacall
Writing about awards shows is not my beat. However, something so disturbing and disrespectful happened last night that I can’t resist calling it out.
Lauren Bacall, an actress so respected that she was recently chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the top twenty-five actresses of the past 100 years, was given the Academy’s Governor’s Award – and then completely disrespected.
Actually, she was given the award back in November of 2009 at one of those luncheons nobody notices.
In recognition of Bacall’s years of phenomenal work, she was permitted to stand up next to her seat and get a little applause during last night’s unbelievably dull proceedings. Oh, they also showed a little video of the November gathering where Bacall said a few words.
Was there something happening on the stage that was so exciting that a few minutes could not be spared to allow Bacall, a truly legendary star, to speak and collect the respect she is due from the film industry? Or was it really more important to waste five minutes on a Ben Stiller bit that has to be one of his worst ever? Or the Neil Patrick Harris song that Randy Jackson would have criticized for being ‘pitchy’ – and that’s the nicest thing we can say about it.
I understand ratings. I know that it is important to pack the stage with presenters who will attract a younger audience – although I couldn’t help but notice that few, if any, of them could help a producer raise one dollar to finance a movie.
But if you are going to spend a bunch of airtime rolling retrospectives on film genres, including horror pictures, would it kill you to give a few minutes to an actor who was a pioneer of the ‘film noir’ genre?
There will be much condemnation of the Academy Awards show in the days to come. Let’s face it – it was truly a bad show. But for all the miscues and bad choices, including the remarkably insensitive omission of Farrah Fawcett from the ‘In Memoriam’ segment (yes, Fawcett did make a few movies, some of which were very good) failing to pay respect to an American legend should be right at the top of a very long list.