The Dirty Irresistibility of HBO’s ‘In Treatment’

Originally written for and posted on RootSpeak, November 11, 2010.

A friend recommended In Treatment to me about a year ago and so I started watching season one. I became addicted to the show pretty quickly, gobbling it up in large amounts at a time, and luckily season two was there right after to keep me engaged in the story for another month.

This wait for season three, however, was pretty dismal. For a while, In Treatment fans on message boards (which, yes, I went to in desperation) were speculating that there might not be another season. After all, it’s no Entourage or Sopranos. It didn’t get ideal ratings for HBO, though it received a good amount of critical acclaim.

Then on October 23, 2009 Variety released a story with HBO’s announcement to renew for season three. As for the not-so-high ratings:

“‘The viewership isn’t as big as we’d like but creatively the show works so well for us, if we’re true to who we say we are, we had to pick it up,’ Michael Lombardo, president of the programming group and West Coast operations for HBO, told Daily Variety. ‘We’re not just into ratings and the awards game. We’re here to deliver shows with distinct voices.’”

And good thing. Now coming up on its sixth week of the third season, the show is an American adaptation of the Israeli original, BeTipul (the same title in Hebrew.) Irish actor Gabriel Byrne plays the enigmatic, brooding and eager-to-help therapist, Dr. Paul Weston. When it airs on HBO, the show comes on for a half hour or less more than one day a week. Each patient gets his or her own episode, and then at the end of the week, Paul goes to see his own therapist and complicated mentor Gina, played amazingly by Dianne Wiest. (While this was true for seasons one and two, season three takes a new direction but retains this same concept.)

As a study in life, life’s issues, and how people interact with one another, the show doesn’t seem to play out like a TV show or a mini-film. Instead, it feels like watching a perfectly rehearsed play with highly trained actors whose dialogue and movements are fluid, true to life, and yet grippingly entertaining. But unlike a play, there’s a camera of course that lets us in even closer – sometimes too close – to the patients and their therapist. You can literally feel the discomfort in a session because the camera and performances force you to feel it. You can get lost in it and feel as though you are part of the therapy session yourself. It is truly one of the most intimate shows I’ve ever watched, and it’s surprisingly addictive at the same time despite the heavy issues and depressing tones.

The setting itself has always made the show stand out to me from all the others. Most of the scenes are set in the therapist’s office. Though he changes locations, Paul’s office is always within his home. He lives and works in the same space, and thus the audience is confined almost entirely to this space as well. What may seem like a “bare minimum” approach is exactly what makes In Treatment worth watching for a different kind of television experience. The limitations the show sets for itself only make the show more distinct and more intimate. It relies purely on acting and story and excels beautifully at both, regarding all other elements as a distraction to what’s crucial. It might seem “simple,” but once you’ve engrossed yourself in it, it becomes clear that it’s probably one of the most complex and thoughtful shows of its time.

In the third installment, a few differences are already noticeable. One thing I keep catching is the constant references to current pop culture – things like Mad Men and Twitter and how our world is increasingly ruled by the internet keep popping up in Paul’s conversations with patients. In the past two seasons, come to think of it, there weren’t that many references to a world outside of the therapy sessions and the patients’ personal lives. This season seems to be leaning towards incorporating present-day cultural influences with the lives of the characters, which makes for a very interesting choice.

As for the ones on the therapist’s couch, the show features its first openly gay patient (a troubled and aggressive teenager), a middle-aged actress struggling in her career and family life (played by Debra Winger), and a man from Calcutta who’s just lost his wife and is having trouble adapting to living with his son and daughter-in-law in New York City. (This first episode, which opened the season, was co-written by Indian American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake.)

Seeing Paul try to help all of these very different characters is fascinating enough. But as mentioned before, at the end of the week, Paul always goes to talk to an analyst himself. So not only do we get to see the therapist with his patients, but we also get to see the therapist in treatment – how he’s feeling, what he struggles with internally, and how he feels about his own sessions. And that is just too dirty and captivating to resist.

Season three of In Treatment is currently airing on HBO on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30 PM.

Tweet-Sized Thoughts on Media-Related Things: p1

In honor of my recent inability to write anything of length, I felt I had to post something for my own sake. So I think I will take a cue from my friend Britt Julious and her Sunday column idea…Though with this blog, it will just be a collection of my recent tweets on Twitter that happen to be media-related. (Note: Hopefully, on another day, some of these tweet-sized bites will grow into essays or articles.)

First impressions of a commercial for Sex and the City 2.

‘Sex and the City 2′ looks like a hackneyed, slightly racist mess. #SATC 8:44 PM May 6th

Update: Solange is still cooler than you, even while singing on one of those LSD-induced kids’ shows.

Dear @solangeknowles: Will you please make a full-length song of this Yo Gabba Gabba! thing? It’s damn catchy. http://bit.ly/cHDOR6 3:45 PM May 8th

A film I revisited and found it’s still one of my all-time favorites: Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas.

“I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don’t know what to say. It was easier when I just imagined you.” Damn good film, Paris, TX 5:31 PM May 8th

Betty White hosting SNL Mother’s Day Episode. I basically live-tweeted the Betty White-hosted SNL episode…along with dozens of my friends. In a nutshell? It was glorious. Undoubtedly one of the best episodes SNL has had in a lonnnnnnng time. Because of Betty White AND the fact that they brought back a lot of the former female favorites for the Mother’s Day episode. They have to know that they can’t really make it any better than that ever again…But we’ll see with the Alec Baldwin episode tonight. (Which, in the promos for, they’ve already made fun of themselves and their one-time success with Betty White.) Key tweets include…

Betty White on #SNL! Awesome already. Just to hear her say, ‘Jay-Z is here!’ 10:40 PM May 8th

NPR ladies!! Muffin!! Betty White!! #SNL 10:49 PM May 8th

TINA!!!! #SNL 11:00 PM May 8th

Jay-Z medley!!! This is the best #SNL episode ever. 11:12 PM May 8th

Omg. Maya’s Whitney impression is always gold. #SNL 11:21 PM May 8th

Cannes Film Festival 2010 starts; French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard’s new film Socialisme.

The trailers for #Godard‘s new #film just speed up the whole movie in its entirety, instead of highlighting scenes http://bit.ly/9fSymX 10:27 AM May 10th

RT: Racialicious explores Lady Gaga and white privilege.

Great read, fascinating. RT @britticisms Racialicious on how Lady Gaga’s white privilege makes her transgressive: http://bit.ly/gagawoc 2:35 PM May 10th

RT: Salon.com on the 90s MTV show Daria finally being released on DVD.

SalonMedia Remember the old MTV? “Daria” comes out on DVD http://bit.ly/a2ruwh 8:57 AM May 12th

“‘Daria’ could have only happened at that time, during that strange, transitional period after the grunge and gangsta rap of the early ’90s” 9:11 AM May 12th

RT: A friend lets me know about a development in the Polanski case.

DrMcButtcheeks @colleenclaes http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/05/14/polanski.second.accuser/index.html Honestly. Who saw this coming? about 22 hours ago

@DrMcButtcheeks But this just reminds me how I don’t even WANNA know how many old pervo Polanski did this to… about 22 hours ago

And that’s all for now. If you see anything you’d like me to elaborate on, please let me know! (Unfortunately, I don’t think my heart/anxiety can bear doing another lengthy post on Polanski…)

“Remain Silent No Longer”: Rage Against the Polanski

I’ve written a lot about Roman Polanski since he was arrested – after 30+ years – for raping a 13-year-old girl back in the 70s. So now that he chose to speak out for the first time this weekend, it just seems right to “Rage Against the Polanski” once again. Because after all, “Polanski” has become a machine in itself – made up of pompous, privileged and delusional supporters in Hollywood and Europe who seem to think Polanski is above being punished for committing rape.

The main reason? “It was so long ago!” The other reason? Well, let’s let Polanski explain that one to us:

“I can remain silent no longer because the request for my extradition addressed to the Swiss authorities is founded on a lie,” writes Polanski, who blames Marina Zenovich’s HBO documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired for stirring up career-mongering LA prosecutors into acting on his long dormant case.

Oh, of course. The Wanted and Desired documentary from 2008…Which, as illuminating as it was, didn’t exactly vilify Polanski as much as it should or could have. It was fairly balanced as far as “telling both sides” goes. And it even ended with a close friend of the director’s saying – oh so poetically – how Polanski became “wanted” in the U.S. after he fled his crime, and then “desired” in France/Europe (but particularly France, with their odd glamorization and defensiveness of him). This seemed to me as if the documentary might be ultimately glorifying Polanski as some sort of misunderstood but irresistible legend – which sounds a hell of a lot better than “pervert-turned-fugitive who fled his rape crime.”

You can download Polanski’s full statement here. It’s basically everything you’ve already heard from the “Free Polanski” crowd but with added melodrama – as Polanski highlights the “injustices” of his case with the prefaced statement in bold, “I can remain silent no longer because…”

Best part:

I can remain silent no longer because I have been placed under house
arrest in Gstaad and bailed in very large sum of money which I have
managed to raise only by mortgaging the apartment that has been my
home for over 30 years, and because I am far from my family and unable to
work.

Aside from the fact that I just don’t give a…, this heap of “boo-hoo-poor-me” B.S. completely contradicts Polanski’s opening sentences: “I have had my share of dramas and joys, as we all have, and I am not going to try to ask you to pity my lot in life.” No. That’s exactly what you’re doing. And that’s exactly what everyone in support of you has been doing since September.

And ahhh yes. The media is just “out to get” Polanski. To make an example of him. Yeah. That’s it. Sure, the media loves it. But what really happened is that the U.S. finally ARRESTED him for his RAPE CRIME. I mean, some people agree with me on this, right?!

Oh, and then this happened on indieWIRE:

While I object to people who suggest that Polanski never did anything terribly wrong—he did—I do think that at his advanced age he bears little threat to anyone and has been punished, served time, and should be able to break out of this impasse. Was he a libertine and a reprobate, did he behave criminally and break the law? Yes. I’d like to see him cop to what he did. But this case is old and cold. There must be a way to fix this.

By the way, The Ghost Writer was one of Polanski’s best, sharpest, most personal films in a long while. I want to see him make more films.

Really, Anne Thompson?

And with that, I’ve unfortunately exhausted most words that I can muster up for this argument. All I have left to say is this:

I can remain silent no longer because Roman Polanski is a rapist who never served time for raping a 13-year-old girl; because I don’t care how old he is, or how long ago it was; because as The New Yorker explored, Polanski relished girls who were minors and showed no remorse for raping or engaging in sex with them; because someone needs to put his old, perverted, privileged, “above-statused” ass in jail already; because anyone who still thinks Polanski is either innocent or should be “let go” of the case needs to seriously reevaluate themselves; and because reallywhat’s not to understand?

Tina Fey: Victim of ‘Superior’ Feminism

Writers: Do you ever get that feeling when you read something truly spectacular – whether it be a novel, a poem, or a commentary – and think, “Damn! I wish I wrote that…” Most likely you do, and I refer to this as “Writer’s Envy.” (Surely I am not the first to dub it this, and again, I feel that self-loathing setting in…)

Well, I felt that this morning when I read Rebecca Traister’s “The Tina Fey backlash” on Salon.com. (Don’t be put off by the length – it’s totally worth the read.) It was everything I’ve been wanting to say since I read Sady Doyle’s post ripping Tina Fey and her character Liz Lemon to ideological bits and pieces. Though I can never say it better than Rebecca Traister did, I feel the need to add on/give my two cents anyhow.

Back in January, I wrote a post entitled “Liz Lemon: Feminist Icon (Havin’ It All).”Ahh, those were the days when I felt that Liz Lemon as a character on 30 Rock was a favorite amongst feminists, standing out as probably the best female role model on current-day television. Boy, was I wrong!

Turns out, some feminists in the blogosphere are displeased with Tina Fey and Liz Lemon in terms of feminist rank. Because apparently, there’s a hierarchy of feminism now, and the “superior” ones (like Doyle) know far better than the ones who are not quite up to par (like Fey).

In a nutshell: Tina Fey’s satirization of insecurities marked by the independent, career-oriented woman used to be funny and loveable, but are now offensive and non-progressive in the world of feminism. And then the Fey-hosted SNL episode happened, and online commentaries exploded with disappointment – most notably with Fey’s use of the word “whore” when taking jabs at Michelle “Bombshell” McGee. (In my opinion: totally hilarious. Is that so wrong?) If it had only just been creeping in before, the backlash was now officially solidified.

How did we get to this point? As Traister poignantly says:

“While it might be fair to argue that Fey has profited from a feminist embrace, she did not ever pretend to be a standard bearer for contemporary feminism. We’re the ones who made her that, who overidentified with her, or with Liz Lemon, or with the Weekend Update host who declared that bitch was the new black, and attached to her a passel of our highest expectations and ideals.”

Yes, WE projected this feminist role model onto her ourselves. Hence, my blog post in January. Though at the time, it was a light-hearted, short and sweet kind of post embracing Lemon’s differences from other female TV icons (i.e.: Carrie Bradshaw), as well as her relatability.

Here’s the thing though: I should not have to feel ashamed for liking Liz Lemon and being a feminist at the same time. I should also not have to be ashamed for thinking Liz is a good female character on TV right now. But most people who have the “Liz Lemon is not a true feminist” debate have this holier-than-thou attitude, thinking they possess some secret, hidden key to “real, truer” feminism – something that Tina Fey is supposedly failing at implementing.

It’s annoying. It’s also pretty insulting, because the arguer is most likely assuming that Tina Fey and her fans are too shallow or stupid to comprehend this “truer” version of feminism. It’s kind of like, “You know, even though I also watch 30 Rock regularly and probably laugh throughout the episodes, I am a distinguished feminist amongst you all for dissecting Liz Lemon and outing her as a fake.”

These feminists expect too much of Tina Fey. Realistically, how can anyone expect a comedy like 30 Rock to be politically correct and perfect in ideology when it’s whole premise is based upon calling out stereotypes by employing them comedically? Traister beautifully ponders this notion of “where to draw the line” between feminism and humor, saying point blank:

Tina Fey is a professional comedian. She is not a professional feminist.

Thank God. Someone finally said what I was thinking in two succinct sentences. Rebecca Traister, I might just start projecting a feminist role model onto you.

The last thing that bothers me about this backlash? Liz Lemon is growing as a character. Because – imagine that – most main characters grow as the show goes on! (The idea!) So why are we expecting perfection and feminist-to-a-tee behaviors and decisions from a character who is clearly still figuring her shit out in her late thirties? This is another reason why some of us women love Liz Lemon: She’s figuring it out, just like the rest of us. No one is a textbook feminist at all times. (And if you think you are, don’t kid yourself.) Liz becomes more confident as time goes on. She refuses to settle. She starts to realize her true worth. I believe the last few episodes of this season have started to point towards that.

A feminist is not just born; she is grown into throughout life. And who’s to say that by age such-and-such (late thirties, in Fey’s case), you need to have developed all capabilities of the ideal feminist? Regardless, every woman is an individual, and I think sometimes feminism forgets that. Or ceases to care, at least when trying to prove its point.

Hell, maybe I’m a bad feminist for all I know. But for me, feminism should never have hierarchies. This isn’t a goddamned hazing initiation, after all. It’s not about weeding out the bad feminists from the good ones, and it’s not about shaming other feminists for not being feminist “enough.” Let’s all learn from one another, yes. I’m glad that articles like these help me to engage in discourse on women’s issues. And trust me, it’s complicated and difficult when writing a feminist post criticizing feminists who critize women for not being feminist enough.

Last time I checked though, feminism was about equality. And one would hope that a group aspiring towards true equality would at least cheer on and support the ones who are trying – in whatever way that is their own – to break the mold in places where there was little room to make a dent in the first place.

Instead, we find part of that group tearing apart one of the few women in entertainment today who profoundly resonates with us.

And you wanna talk about progressiveness?

Jane Velez-Mitchell: ‘Wearing a Bikini on Spring Break is Asking for Rape’

Listen. I didn’t ask for HLN to be on when I turned on my television after work today. And I didn’t want Jane Velez-Mitchell’s awful show, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, to be on either, mishandling the topic of rape.

The “issue” at hand was the number of young women who have been raped in Daytona Beach while on Spring Break. The tacky, insensitive graphic on the bottom of the screen read: “SPRING BREAK RAPES!” in screeching italics. The sorry-ass-excuse of a “debate” going on behind the graphics was far worse.

Given that I have apparently been the sole outraged Tweeter of this show (believe me – I searched for it), and am probably one of five people in the country watching it this evening, let me fill you in on the highlights (or lowlights):

  • A female psychologist (the most educated-sounding of the three on the panel) explains that women have a hard time coming forth with a rape crime because it is “the only crime where you are forced to participate, and you feel the shame of participating.” While “participate” is probably not the best verb choice, it’s still a good stab at meaningful insight.
  • Host Jane Velez-Mitchell’s response? Word for word: “Listen, I don’t like to blame the victim, BUT…” As she goes on to – seriously – say, “If you’re scantily-clad, wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini, I mean…You’re making yourself vulnerable.” (OH. MY. GOD.) Then she claims that everyone has to “respect the gavel” as she holds one up and goes to commercial break. (Since I don’t watch, ever, I’m assuming this is some kind of gimmick.)
  • Random ex-frat-boy-looking dude on the panel’s response after the commercial break? He was going to say the same thing Jane said, but did not out of fear that he’d be attacked because, as he says with dripping sarcasm…Are you ready? “These women are SUPPOSEDLY wearing this ‘burka’ of shame…” (Oh. And then my conscience imploded.) REALLY, dude?! A BURKA of shame? You somehow managed to offend both rape survivors and Muslim women who wear the burka in one short sentence. Kudos.
  • Psychologist woman shakes her head. Old random dude makes generic “Where are the parents?” argument, and everyone snickers at him for thinking parents would ever be present on Spring Break.
  • Final verdict from Jane: Her life experience as a “recovering alcoholic” makes her credible, of course, on the subject of drunken black-outs. And since you CAN “function” and yet “not remember” what you did the night before, this makes for a very fuzzy rape crime case. And again, she says it:”I’m the LAST person to blame the victim, but.” And then something that’s supposed to sound like logical thought spews out of her mouth.
  • Final verdict from ex-frat boy dude: “Listen, we can’t stop rapists from committing rape. But we can reduce the number of rapes that occur by women not walking around scantily-clad and drinking so much on Spring Break.” (Um…excuse me?! Who the hell bred this jackass?!)

Conclusively, ladies, beware: If you go on Spring Break and drink, wear a bikini, go to the beach, travel without your parents, or do anything that you would normally do while on Spring Break – you are partially to blame for being raped if this tragically occurs. Well, at least according to Ms. Jane “Send Females Back 70 years” Velez-Mitchell and her Broski.

I realize that this is opening myself up to a debate from men and women alike, with opinions of either “females should not be blamed for their rape” (my point of view) or “well, there are certain cases where they’re kind of asking for it.” Believe me, I’ve heard every argument that could ever enrage me on the subject of rape, but the point I’m making here is how tactlessly, insultingly, and plain disgustingly the topic was approached on this show. That’s the thing.

She ended the debate by saying, “Thank you panel! Great insight.” And then her producers cut to the newest, sensational story about a kidnapped woman. Oh, and a Jesse James/Sandra Bullock update. Such a sensitive and meaningful handling of the subject of rape, Jane. You should really be proud of yourself. (See, bro? That’s how you do sarcasm.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Excuse me, the Frat-like dude’s actual burka comment was: “the psychological BURKA that these women are forced to wear, why shouldn`t they be able to dress scantily — as scantily clad—” And then he was interrupted. The dripping sarcasm was still there though, might I add.

I tried to get this as word-for-word as possible whenever quotation marks were used, but this post was written in the heat of the moment before I had an official transcript. Thanks to Zelda Lily for making me aware of such a thing on her blog! If you’d like to read for yourself, here’s the official CNN transcript of the show.

If you just can’t bring yourself to read through it, here’s something else that should be noted – also left out in this original “heat of the moment” post. Jane Velez-Mitchell says (and this is pulled directly from the transcript):

“OK. I think that there`s a difference between a woman who`s walking alone on a country road being abducted and never seen again, as we see happen so often. A woman who is at home, like the beautiful Tennessee anchorwoman, minding her business, where some creep breaks in and rapes her and kills her. And these women, who are drinking excessively on the beach, wearing G-strings, and engaging in hypersexual behavior, like doing that dance where they`re simulating sex. I think that we have to distinguish between those two groups of women.”

There it is in a nutshell, folks: Some women really DON’T deserve to be raped, and some women kind of DO. According to Ms. Velez-Mitchell.

I appreciate anyone who has commented on, retweeted, or blogged this.

Internet: The New Music Video Platform

I can’t bring myself NOT to write about this. Yeah, that’s right. I’m talking about the now infamous, mixed received “Telephone” music video/mini epic comprised of a million pop culture references by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. (Sidenote: Funny – the last time I wrote about a music video worth writing about, it was Beyoncé’s “Video Phone” featuring Lady Gaga.)

No, I’m not going to analyze and criticize it scene by scene. (After all, Jezebel and Salon’s Broadsheet already said it better than I ever could.) Besides, all I really have to say is that the acting is atrocious (sorry B, but you are by far the worst of the two), and that there’s an overload of silly product placement, drawn-out and misplaced scenes, and Tarantino references.

What’s more fascinating to me than the video itself is its internet-based success. As of today it has more than 14 million views on YouTube via Vevo. And it was released on Thursday night. Then today, things got really interesting. MTV announced it was “banning” the video from its channel, which officially means absolutely nothing seeing as how MTV doesn’t even air music videos anymore. Back in February, MTV slightly rebranded and removed the “Music Television” from their logo. So what is now basically a network for reality television – but used to be the pioneering music TV channel – has decided to make a statement by banning “Telephone.” Because it’s raunchy? Because it’s 9 minutes long? Or because – as Gawker points out – MTV is trying to reinforce that their decisions still matter in the music video world? Probably the sad but true latter.

When I was growing up in the 90s, my daily life before and after school was defined by music videos shown on MTV. I seriously watched the same videos and premieres of new videos over and over to the infinite degree. Total Request Live replaced the after-school snack for us kids in the decade before the aughts. And then on top of it, we had regular episodes of Making the Video, taking our young minds from concept to film set to final product (and making us want to have Hype Williams’ job when we grew up.) Believe me – there wasn’t one music video I hadn’t seen start to finish in those days.

Now? Well, I hate to say it, but I don’t see a music video (even by my favorite artists) unless I go out of my way to watch it online, or it becomes a huge sensation (like Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.”) No one watches MTV anymore for music videos. Mostly because they choose not to play them. But also because MTV is completely useless nowadays unless you’re watching the guilty pleasure Jersey Shore, or you’re in the mood for yet another lame and yawn-inducing True Life episode. (“I Have a Summer Share 2″ and “I’m Graduating from High School” are seriously a few of the titles from Season 9… Long gone are the days when Serena Altschul squatted in alleys with heroin addicts.)

But I don’t feel bad for you, MTV. You brought this upon yourself. You’ve turned your back on your original purpose of music videos, which are (sometimes) truly worth watching. And now YouTube and Vevo are garnering millions and millions of views on music videos, and the mini films themselves are premiering on the internet worldwide – not on your pointless, dated channel. The “Telephone” video has made it strikingly clear: As of 2010, music videos are officially spread by word of mouth. There’s no need for an MTV when you have YouTube, countless other video hosting sites, and Twitter.

So now what do you do if you’re MTV? Release a statement that you’re “banning” the most talked-about music video of the year thus far. Sounds like someone just has a spoonful of bitter and regret stuck under their tongues.

UPDATE: Thanks to Robert Brenner for bringing it to my attention, but MTV has – after all – not banned the “Telephone” video, as they reported today. I got that story from more than one popular source, but it appears that a CNN reporter announced it without any kind of citation. MTV says: “Fans can continue to catch the video as we repeat it on-air and online.”

While my rant in regards to MTV banning the video no longer stands, my rant towards MTV on a more general note does.

‘Live’ Blog: Oscars 2010 Commentary!

5:24: So, this is a “live” blog with quotation marks around it because I don’t really have somewhere important to be tonight for the Oscars. It’s not like I’m on the red carpet, or at the Vanity Fair party later. But, tune in if you are interested in hearing my running commentary (ranging anywhere, I’m assuming, from catty to insightful – but probably mostly catty), and PLEASE share your thoughts in the comments!

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Best Oscar Speeches

With the 82nd Academy Awards airing this weekend (March 7th), there’s bound to be some memorable speeches as always. Maybe James Cameron will win and make a complete egotistical jackass of himself, or surely Gabourey Sidibe will give an amazing speech if she wins (fingers crossed!) Who will get the music (everyone but Meryl Streep), and who will deliver the most noteworthy speeches of the 2010 Oscars? We’ll have to wait and see, of course. But in the meantime, here are my picks for some of the most interesting, most poignant, most ridiculous, but overall most memorable acceptance speeches.

Cuba Gooding Jr., winning in 1997 for Jerry MaguireJovial and genuinely ecstatic, Cuba Gooding Jr. is enjoyable to watch during this speech. Unfortunately for him, that year’s Oscars were heavy-handed with the rude “hint to get off the stage” music during everyone’s speeches. But Cuba? He doesn’t care – he just keeps on going. As one YouTube commenter said, “It’s almost like the music was designed to go with his speech.”

George Clooney winning in 2006 for Syriana“Alright, well I guess I’m not winning DIRECTOR,” the charming Clooney jokes. While he won for this role in Syriana, he was also nominated in the Best Director category that year for Good Night, and Good Luck. It starts off on a light note, but Clooney takes the opportunity to also give Hollywood more credit than it’s usually given – “This academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when Blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters.” This probably gets the award for least “all about me with 1,000 people to thank” acceptance speech. Clooney used his time in a different way.

Tom Hanks winning in 1994 for PhiladelphiaTom Hanks gave one of the classiest, yet profoundly candid speeches with this one for Philadelphia. Since his role in the film was a gay male living with AIDS, he was very careful to speak respectfully and appreciatively of gays and people living with HIV or AIDS. This one is a tear-jerker, especially when he pays homage to his two gay theatre teachers.

Catherine Zeta-Jones winning in 2003 for ChicagoThis one’s just cute. Catherine Zeta-Jones gets up onstage – extremely pregnant, but looking gorgeous – and admits that the combination of things is too much for her hormones, which gets a laugh. The other great part is when she tells her husband, Michael Douglas, that she shares the award with him “and this one too.” Though the camera cuts away in a most untimely manner, we can only assume she’s pointing to her belly.

Dustin Lance Black winning in 2009 for MilkWhen Dustin Lance Black got onstage to accept the award for Best Original Screenplay for the biopic about gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, the first thing I was struck by was how young and handsome he appeared. Then, I proceeded to bawl my eyes out as he gave a very touching (understatement) speech about how Harvey Milk helped him personally growing up as a gay male in a conservative family. He also shares some empowering words ensuring young gay Americans that one day they will have the federal rights they deserve. A truly beautiful and incomparable speech. It makes me cry every time I watch it.

Halle Berry winning in 2002 for Monster’s Ball - You really can’t talk about Oscar speeches without mentioning Halle Berry’s. “74 years here, I gotta take this time!” she shouted as she became the first Black woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actress. In her shocked and vulnerable state, she poured her heart out and made all of her fellow nominees cry along with her. This is now a historical Oscar acceptance speech, and might just be the most memorable and noteworthy of them all. Not only did she fully deserve the award for her amazing performance in Monster’s Ball, but she made history when her name was called.

Music Video Appreciation #1: ‘Video Phone,’ Beyoncé

Artists: Beyoncé featuring Lady Gaga
Song: “Video Phone [Extended Remix]“
Director: Hype Williams

I know I’m a few months late on this, but I’m really blown away by the “Video Phone” music video. It’s strange, sexy, colorful, and enticing. It actually made me appreciate the song (which is also strange, especially for Beyoncé) more because of these visuals. Though it’s not clear why exactly Lady Gaga needed to be remixed into it, I don’t really mind it. I do believe though that the song is just as good on the album without Lady Gaga. (Someone actually said somewhere online that Lady Gaga’s voice doesn’t seem cut out for this kind of beat, and I have to agree.)

But back to the visuals. I love Hype Williams, and this video screams Hype Williams – almost back to his old Busta Rhymes days. I also appreciate the nod to Reservoir Dogs in the opening sequence. Odd-looking guns, even odder-looking outfits, and men with cameras for heads make this video uniquely appealing. So appealing, in fact, that I felt the need to post it. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I am planning on incorporating more music video posts like this a few times a month. Thoughts? Suggestions?)

@-ing the Celebrity: Famous People’s Online Personalities

Thanks to the internetz (the “z” is for ironic geeky effect, you see), the general public can now “connect” with celebrities via sites like Twitter and personal blogs. Both of these social networking tools have become almost vital for any modern-day famous person. And we can’t get enough of it.

Though still, a lot of people say, “I don’t want to know what celebrities are doing at all times.” But really, who are these people? I, for one, thoroughly (and sometimes guiltily) enjoy seeing what my favorite celebrities are up to at random times of a given day. On Twitter alone, I am following a diverse range of talent and TV personalities. I only follow “the ones I really care about,” with the exception of a few randoms. But the bottom line is: These famous people entertain and interest me with their daily 140-character thoughts and musings.

While I’m very disappointed that Kanye West does not cross-post his unnecessarily all-caps and exclamation-point-infused rantings on Twitter, HIS BLOG………WILL HAVE TO DO FOR NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………. If you are looking for more celebrity blogs to check out, Bloggers Blog has a pretty nice list for you.

But Twitter – now that’s where all the fun is. With the exception of extremely busy and powerful talents like Madonna and Beyoncé, most celebrity tweets are pretty readily available because everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. For instance, I recently saw @jessicaalba on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and she discussed how she had just started using Twitter. She proceeded to take a picture of Fallon and herself with her camera phone to tweet to her fans.

Occurrences like these – where you can see a celebrity do one thing and then instantaneously see it again on their online profile – feel like a sort of breaking of the fourth wall. Not only can we obsess unhealthily about famous people we’ll never meet, but now we can be that much closer to them and pretend like we’re friends on Twitter?! Who wouldn’t fall for that! It really makes me wonder what kind of restraining order could have been filed against my Fifth Grade Self if Twitter had existed back during the days of Titanic and Leonardo DiCaprio had an account…

I mean…Ahem, yes…The matter at hand. Celebrity Twitter accounts can be amusing, envy-inducing, or even helpful. For example, I follow @Sn00ki because she constantly tweets self-taken photos of herself smirking in her bedroom; @mindykaling because she always has some funny commentary on pop culture events; @StacyLondonSays because she actually takes the time to give out fashion advice to her followers; @_M_I_A_ for her Kanye-esque typing style with an intense political stance; and @solangeknowles (my favorite tweeter of all) so I can drown in envy at her awesome fashion sense and cool lifestyle where she DJs for a hobby.

I’m not sure how those above-mentioned names all happen to be women (I really must be a feminist?), but that’s just me. My main point is that there’s some celeb-Twitter love out there for everyone. It must be the invasiveness and self-awareness of it all that really fascinates us. So if you get your kicks from knowing too much about famous people’s lives just like I do, I’d love to hear your favorite A-list or lower-list Twitter accounts.

And just for the hell of it in case anyone was wondering… it’s @colleenclaes.