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Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscars: A very fine line between irony and hypocrisy

Last night, "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and Academy president Sid Ganis made two of the evening's only political speeches: about the value of seeing movies on the big screen, not on those nasty DVDs.

I know that Academy members feel this is an important issue, for one economic reason and one emotional reason. Emotionally, movie theaters are the temples where we're supposed to gather to share the communal experience of watching movies. Economically, how movies do at the box office helps set star salaries, and for studios, a successful theatrical release helps market a movie for its later debuts as a DVD or a video-on-demand selection.

Of course, my guess is that most people in the audience at the Kodak Theater last night don't see their movies in mediocre, poorly-maintained multiplexes. They see them in one of three ways:

- On a screener DVD provided to them for free

- In a studio screening room, with leather sofas and pristine projection

- At a premiere, for free

- In a better-than-average theater, admitted free as a member of the Academy during the voting season

A great question for Jon Stewart to ask the audience after the speeches from Gyllenhaal and Ganis would've been, "OK, so how many of you bought a movie ticket in 2005 and saw a movie in an actual open-to-the-public theater?"

Stewart himself mentioned in one of his pre-Oscar interviews that the only movie he'd seen in a theater - he has two young kids - in 2005 was "The 40-Year Old Virgin." He went to the premiere to support his friend Steve Carrell.