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MILLIONS OF FINE PEOPLE MAY HAVE watched NBC's broadcast of the Golden Globes, but I only made it through an hour before clicking the remote. One channel down, PBS was showing Nosferatu, the first and greatest vampire movie. The monster in this 1922 silent German expressionist classic is mesmerizingly ugly. With his huge white lozenge of a head, incisors protruding like ladyfingers from his upper lip and clawed hands dangling from stiff black clothes, he looks like a lab rat posing as an undertaker.
The Globes, on the other hand, made me think of the glam vams in Interview with a Vampire, the aristocratic Eurosuckers who meet in moldy rococo theaters and perform mystifying, bloodletting rituals. There was no river of red at Los Angeles's Beverly Hilton, with its ballroom full of tuxedoed actors and beehived actresses at dinner tables, but the acceptance speeches had an incantatory sameness. The winners ticked off long, dry lists of colleagues: producers, stylists, publicists, agents. (I'm told, though, that Emma Thompson was charming; when isn't she?) Trying to listen to this insular roll call, I felt uninvited. Oh, for March 25 and the Oscars!
Now the Academy Awards are dull, overlong and burdened with clunky musical numbers. And yet I would never switch from the Oscars to a silent movie. Like Nosferatu, they cast a spell. They give me a flattering sense of inclusion. When Deborah Kerr thanked the Academy for her honorary award in 1994, I felt she was thanking me personally for having seen The Innocents eight times. (She ought to.)
I think this has something to do with seating. Globe nominees sit down to dinner, which implies that celebrities actually eat. I find the idea distracting. Do they snack too? The Oscars, which will be held at the L.A. Music Center this year, impose formality by putting stars in theater seats. I prefer this. It reduces the Hollywood audience to nervous spectators, just like the home audience. The winners thank not just fellow stars but fellow Americans.
Of course, one could also argue that the power of the Oscars, after 68 years, is testament to the unique glamor of movie stars as opposed to the more workaday appeal of telepersons. On the Oscars broadcast, TV stars serve as handmaidens to the film community. The Globes, which dole out both TV and movie awards, suggest an uneasy U.N. peace settlement.
All of which is why, come Oscar night, my neck will be at the ready.
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