Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Death Snub

Phew, just as well the Hollywood writer's strike is over. I was finding it really hard to write for fear of being called a "strikebreaker!" I hate upsetting my peers from the Academy, they're a delicate breed. Celebrating with a quiet flute of bubbly, I watched the Oscars last night and realised that every year I watch mainly because I love the bit where they dim the lights and fire up that good old PowerPoint presentation of dead Hollywood people. If the Oscars are all about your measure of worth in the entertainment industry, then the annual three minute Oscar clip-fest memorialising dead stars is the ultimate test for who we love best. (And if your footage gets slow motion treatment you've really tugged at our heartstrings). In November 2006 Artswipe wrote a tribute for Adrienne Shelley who achieved arthouse cinema fame for acting and directing in her brief lifetime. On Oscar night last year Shelley was not honoured in the death montage. What a crime against cinema.

With this in mind, I was looking forward to the Oscars this year to see how big Heath Ledger's applause would be and whether young actor Brad Renfro (Apt Pupil, Bully, The Client), who died of a heroin overdose a week before Ledger, would get his moment of Oscar hagiography. Much like I anticipated, Renfro was excluded. Since the Oscars were televised the global press has been buzzing with news of Renfro's "Oscar snub". Once you would have expected such a headline to be reserved for that illustrious actor who was cheated out of a much deserved nomination (say Matthew McConaughey for his performance in Fools Gold or Mandy Moore for Because I Said So).

As for Ledger, he was honoured last in the presentation and the applause was deafening. If they had cut back to the audience you would have seen a pre-ad break standing ovation that after a few heartfelt minutes would subside for the bit in the night where an animated character presents an award.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sorry (Britney) Day

Monika Behrens
Leave Britney Alone! 2007
Oil on board
Courtesy the artist
Photo: Tom Polo

The Artswipe was stuck in traffic this morning listening to Triple J's mind-numbing morning radio program. One day I'll iPod the car, I promise. The news presenter at 7am started with the story on everyone's lips: Sorry Day, which happens finally Wednesday 13th February. If you've been living under Ayers Rock, on another planet, or down Howard's End, then you might need to be reminded that it is the day when the Australian Government finally lead the way in saying sorry for the trauma and injustices imposed on our indigenous peoples since the dawn of whiteness in this land girt by sea. Of particular emphasis in the Sorry rhetoric is making amends to the Stolen Generations.

Nothing Compares 2 U, 2007
Photo collage
Courtesy the artists

So it's all over the news and this morning the poor Triple J newsreader kept tripping over his words and uttered a particularly tricky sentence including the words 'stolen' and 'sorry'. As alliteration must not be a strong suit, he collapsed both words so they came out as 'stoli'. How racist to bring up alcohol in this context, I thought indignantly! After a few stunned moments, I realise anyone can get a little tongue tied. And as it's very early in the morning and as reading the news is probably one of the most challenging jobs in the food chain, I forgive him, I say Sorry.

Tabloid Trash Attack (50ft Brit vs Kevzilla) 2006
Photo collage, commissioned by Runway Magazine
Courtesy the artists

But as political correctness is not one of The Artswipe's stronger points, I started thinking about how this historic day should be the start of universal sorryness. Now craving a Stoli and Coke at 7:10am-ish and thinking about Stolen Generations, I began to realise we all have to say sorry to so many people. My indigenous brothers and sisters, I'm sorry. To everyone I've wronged, I'm sorry. One person I've wronged recently is Britney Spears. To Britney, I'm sorry. Like all child stars whose transition into adulthood is wracked with booze, pills, paparrazi, Vegas weddings, abandoned kids, mental illness, Britney is a babywoman whose childhood was stolen out from under her. "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman", as her song goes. We have all wronged Britney so join me some time soon when I lobby Parliaments of the World for a Sorry Britney Day.