Monday, March 2, 2009

Oscar Needs Twittery Twist to Stay Relevant

The Oscars could use a little updating if the Academy wants to remain relevant in this new world of 140-character blasts of random thoughts. Just as those journalists who cover Oscar-mania are trying new techniques such as live blogging, the Academy also should venture into new territory.

Still smarting from a long-ago Best Picture snub for "A Few Good Men," I chose not to watch the Oscars this year because -- well, I can't handle the truth. So I got my Oscar news and views from various live blogging efforts that delivered their own snarkified take on Hollywood's idea of honoring truth in art.

It was more enjoyable, saved me the trouble of wearing out the fast-forward on my DVR, and gave me some ideas on how social media might help shield the Academy and Hollywood from impending irrelevance.

The Envelope, Please

Best Oscar Live Blog with an Attitude: Deadline Hollywood Daily. L.A. Weekly's Nikki Finke warned readers to "come for the cynicism, stay for the subversion," and she didn't disappoint. "Will Smith says he asked to be part of this Academy Awards broadcast," she blogged at one point. "Obviously, his usual 7 p.m. performance PEER1 Managed Hosting - free firewall and SAN Backup for six months. Click to learn more. at the Pomona Dinner Theatre's presentation of 'Oklahoma!' was dark tonight. Because even that would have been better use of his time."

Later: "The show has been on for 2 hours now. I've officially lost the will to live." It's just a hunch, but I'm guessing she wasn't impressed with Hugh Jackman, weird musical numbers, a dearth of movie clips and Sean Penn beating Mickey Rourke for Best Actor. Finke, a self-described "card-carrying liberal and proud of it" was moved by acceptance speeches calling for tolerance of gay marriage, the subtext for every "Milk" victory. "On the other hand, the entire state of Utah just turned off their TV sets. Disney's (NYSE: DIS) Bob Iger just fainted." And so it went for Finke's live-blogging of what she called the Gayest Oscars Ever.

Which brings us to our next category, Best Oscar Live Blog by Those Who Always Sit On the Right-Hand-Side of a Theater: Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood, a fairly recent entry in what's becoming a crowded entertainment blog category, but I'm betting the only one that covers it from a conservative viewpoint. Breitbart, part of Matt Drudge's online posse (and recipient of much Drudge link-love) has put together a long roster of right-thinking actors, screenwriters, authors and bloggers, and all were on duty Oscar night. Penn's victory and acceptance speech gave this crowd a second wind. "Mickey Rourke is thinking right now: If only my wrestler character was gay ..." wrote screenwriter/journalist Andrew Leigh. Musician-blogger Jude Christodal added: "I had forgotten why I don't watch these things, but there it is. Most popular boy in school wins for message film over a once-in-a-decade performance." "Oh Boy ... here comes Prop 8 the musical all over again," wrote someone who goes by the nom de blog Stage Right.

It may be a sign of social media progress, or another sign of the Technopocalypse, but like certain cable news channels, now entertainment blogs can preach to different ideological choirs. And Oscar Night is becoming their Election Night/Super Bowl.

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