March 3, 2014

Disrespecting Judy and Liza.

Last night at the Oscars, in the opening monologue — TV-style, isn't it, beginning with a comic stand-up routine? — Ellen DeGeneres made Liza Minelli uncomfortable. The camera zoned in on Liza, and Ellen described the person on camera as "one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators that I have ever seen in my entire life." Liza — who'd done seemingly all she could to look fabulous — squirmed in obvious psychic pain.

It was only much later that I got a clue why Liza was there and why anyone would focus on her of all stars present in the arena. There was a tribute to the movie "The Wizard of Oz," which came out exactly 75 ago — as if the 75th anniversary of something is especially big. And the same year — 1939 — was the year of "Gone With the Wind." Given the prominence of "12 Years a Slave" amongst the nominees last night — it ultimately won Best Picture — it would have been apt to delve into Hollywood's most famous presentation of slavery, especially since the Academy awarded an Oscar to a woman who played the slave called Mammy, Hattie McDaniel:



That was for Best Supporting Actress, and last night the Academy gave the Best Supporting Actress Award once again to a black woman who played a slave, Lupita Nyong'o.

But forget the absurd resonance and strange racial history of Hollywood. The 1939 movie that got a long segment last night was "The Wizard of Oz." Who knows why? But there was Liza in the audience, not on stage singing. She was listening to Pink singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," while a montage from the 75-year-old movie played in the background. When the first image of Judy Garland went up, I thought the audience should have erupted in cheers and applause, but there was silence. Generally, the audience last night was stiff and dull, filling the seats as if according to instructions from management. Maybe when they saw Judy mouthing the words "There's no place like home," they felt something, a desire to be out of the un-Oz-like hall, at home or at least at some after party.

Pink was wearing a big glittery red dress that looked as if it had been made out of the skin of a thousand pairs of Dorothy's ruby slippers. After Pink had fully emptied the contents of her prodigious lungs, there was an empty stage and finally Ellen tripped out, in a makeshift Glinda-the-Good-Witch costume. The comic trope was that Ellen was one of these "Wizard of Oz" fans who might paste together a DIY costume of a favorite character for a night at the movies. Ellen joked:
"Did I miss it? Is it over? Not cool, guys, they were gonna call me. I'll do it by myself, 'You had the power' ... Oh, never mind."
She mocked Liza, and then she mocked the loser-fans who believe in the magic of movies, the people who really love Judy and Liza.

38 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Hollywood squeezed the life out of its great female child stars like Judy Garland. What's new.

Heyooyeh said...

Wow. Tone down the polemics, maybe? It's not tat big if a deal....

Gahrie said...

then she mocked the loser-fans who believe in the magic of movies, the people who really love Judy and Liza.

Lesbians are always attacking gay men.......

Gahrie said...
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Big Mike said...

They couldn't remake "The Wizard of Oz" today. The talent isn't there, in front of or behind the cameras, and neither is the creativity. And the plot would have to take a time out so that an appropriate "message" could be slipped in.

traditionalguy said...

And that was the real "war on women," exposing who it is that hates them...the other jealous women with no discernible talent.

EMD said...

I'll admit when I first saw Liza Minelli on Arrested Development, I thought they had hired a Liza Minelli impersonator.

Kansas City said...

I thought DeGeneres was generally very good, but her joke at Liza's expense was inappropriate. I also thought Pink rendition of Over the Rainbow was excellent, although different than Garland's style. Assuming Liza still can sing and wanted to do it, I think it would have been great to have her sing the song. I thought the tribute to Wizard of Oz was terrific and Degeneres coming out as the Good Witch was very funny.

I think the contrast of Gone With the Wind and the 12 Years movie would have been way too deep and complicated for an Oscars show. This is entertainment, not political or social history.

MayBee said...

If Liza Minelli doesn't realize she is only relevant today because she is a gay icon, then she deserves any teasing she got.

Imagine being poor Lorna Luft, sitting next to her half sister and getting no attention at all! That's much worse.

MayBee said...

Pink's rendition was an overworked crowd pleaser. My main complaint is how much time it took from the Oscars. I didn't tune in to watch an All Star Variety Show.

mrs. e said...

And for all the heat Hollywood takes (most times deservedly so) for taking itself way too seriously, the cynics would have chopped them up for that. Sheesh, make up your mind.

What KC and MB said. Can folks not take a joke?

EMD said...

If Liza Minelli doesn't realize she is only relevant today because she is a gay icon, then she deserves any teasing she got

LUCILLE 2!!!!!!

lemondog said...

I thought the audience should have erupted in cheers and applause, but there was silence.

Judy Garland died 1969 or 45 years ago. What was the average age of the audience?

garage mahal said...

It's all about teh ghey.

B said...

While we're on the topic of that horrible Academy, this was posted last night by a "friend."

We don't get it now, but giving Jared Leto an Oscar would be like giving Mickey Rooney an Oscar for Breakfast at Tiffany's down the line.

Diamondhead said...

If you're only brave enough to puncture Liza Minelli's balloon in THAT room full of ego and self-regard, chances are you were a pretty boring Oscar host. And she was - dreadfully so.

Anonymous said...

FB commentary from a professional musician friend: "Kids - just so you know, it doesn't actually go, 'Some (breath) where hurover (breath) the rainbow...'"

William said...

It wasn't just Gone With the Wind. From Birth of a Nation through Jezebel and on to Raintree County, Hollywood consistently portrayed slave owners in a sympathetic and even glamouous light. Slaves, if they were portrayed at all, were generally figures of fun. Hattie McDaniel's Mamie was, in some ways, the first Oprah, and the role was a substantial one. Nonetheless, I don't think many people, white or black, feel comfortable with it today......Hollywood has now found religion. Good for them, but in some respects this is like Lani Riefensthal producing a heroic epic about the birth of Israel.

Pogo is Dead said...

Liza gave her voice to perhaps the worst cartoon in history, Filmation's 1974 animated musical Journey Back to Oz.

For some insane reason, in 1976 they re-broadcast it at Christmastime with live action segments featuring Bill Cosby as a lunatic Wizard.

My God, it still burns.

Gabriel said...

Hattie McDaniel was not permitted to sit with the whites at the Oscars.

William said...

Just recently there was post here about how some movie producer exposed himself to Shirley Temple. Both Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor complained that various Hollywood potentates groped them when they were young. Their later lives strikingly parallel those of children who were sexually abused. Maybe more than groping went on....Perhaps Hollywood could produce a movie about the sexual abuse that went on in their back lots. It could be modeled after Crimes and Misdemeanors. It could show a successful Hollywood figure being awarded an Oscar. You could intercut it with scenes of him successfully exploiting starlets, including a few underage ones, to show the true nature of the man. 50 Years a Scumbag, if that title is not too derivative..

Sam L. said...

Ellen is all class, but much to most of it is No.

mccullough said...

Chris Rock was the last host who lit into some of the stars. Ellen is a safe host and Liza is a safe target.

CWJ said...

The snub of GWTW surprised me. I fully expected both films to receive tribute. And I sadly believe you all are right that the racial aspect made any acknowledgement potentially toxic.

OTOH, I believe the fact that they could plant three Garland progeny in the audience, one of whom well known, was also a factor in favor of WofO. I doubt there is any comparable living reminder of GWTW.

They were literally human props who served no purpose other than to stand and be clapped at; which of course put the exercise completely in sync with the rest of the ceremony.

MayBee said...

There were not a lot of visible tattoos at the Oscars last night. That is a tide that must be changing, no?

carrie said...

Paul Zrimsek--I agree!

carrie said...
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Chance said...

C -

Sigivald said...

She mocked Liza, and then she mocked the loser-fans who believe in the magic of movies, the people who really love Judy and Liza.

Ancient history. Who cares?

Frankly, the Oscars deserve far more mockery, as does Hollywood-as-such.

hombre said...

A gaggle of millionaires in a festival of pompous, mutual and self-adulation.

Birches said...

I'll admit when I first saw Liza Minelli on Arrested Development, I thought they had hired a Liza Minelli impersonator.

I think the problem is that most people think Liza was playing herself on Arrested Development (like Carl Weathers). She actually thinks she was playing a character, but no one else noticed.

Conserve Liberty said...
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Conserve Liberty said...

She mocked Liza, and then she mocked the loser-fans who believe in the magic of movies, the people who really love Judy and Liza.

Isn't that generally what Coastals do? Mock Flyover losers who believe in things other than their own exceptional brilliance and intellect?

MountainMan said...

CWJ said:

"I doubt there is any comparable living reminder of GWTW."

Olivia de Haviland, I believe, is the only living cast member from GWTW. She is 97 and lives in Paris.

EMD said...

She actually thinks she was playing a character, but no one else noticed.

I thought her turn as Lucille Austero was funny, especially with her balance problems.

EMD said...

WHERE WAS MY "GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS*" TRIBUTE!!!!!




* - another great film from 1939.

Biff said...

I'd wager that at least 1/3 of the people in the room hadn't heard of Judy or Liza. At least half probably couldn't name a significant work of either of them. And I'd bet that at least two thirds had no clue that Judy or Liza were related.

I mean, hey, they're old people. Besides Catholics and Republicans, old people are pretty much the only people you can still make fun of in Hollywood.

PianoLessons said...

Ann - you caught what I did - Ellen caused Lisa some psychic pain (and she did it when she intentionally mispronounced award giver Goldie Hawn's name to be something like "Oldie Gone" - and I thought Goldie paused a second or two as she processed the insult).

It was mean-spirited, intentional and creepy agism IMHO.