The Oscars are old-timey and kind of dumb. That’s the conclusion one could draw from the pot o’ ridiculous they’ve stirred up with Sacha Baron Cohen. Or they’re just big party poopers, which, for Hollywood, is just as bad.
Cohen, who stars in the multi-nominated film Hugo, had requested permission from the Academy to walk the red carpet dressed as the main character in his upcoming movie, The Dictator. In that film, he plays Supreme Leader Shabazz Aladeen who has promised to keep democracy far away from his country. (The website is genius.) The plan was for Cohen to enter the awards ceremony in costume and then change into a tuxedo.
According to Deadline Hollywood, which broke the story yesterday (that link also included in today’s Ticker), the Academy effectively banned the actor from the event by taking away his tickets because they feel the stunt would make a mockery of their fancypants soiree.
There’s also some concern about the red carpet not being the place for stunts and “in-your-face promotion.” Aren’t the Oscars one big promo for the movie industry? Seems completely appropriate. Deadline posits that the global transmission of the ceremony could be an issue.
With the banning news spreading, it looks like the Academy is taking a step back a little bit. Now the Oscar folks say they’re waiting to hear back about what Cohen has planned and his tickets haven’t been pulled.
Cohen is known for going all out and, quite frankly, the Oscars could use a little of that. We did a quick Google search of “Oscars boring” and got thousands of hits about this year’s show, which doesn’t air until Sunday. The Daily Beast offers 21 suggestions to make the broadcast a little more lively and while Cohen isn’t one of them, the idea of him being his crazy self is a great one.
The Oscars have become a fashion show, a slog, a tool to narrow down the list of movies you should see in the next couple of weeks, and a place to win a few bucks in the office pool. It’s not considered an entertaining program to watch, a curious thing given the topic for the evening. Seriously, calm down Academy and have a little fun. Whether you like it or not, this situation has publicized The Dictator anyway.
[image: Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator via Paramount]
Update: “The Dictator” responds in his own video (below) and on the Today show. We’re seeing lots of speculation about a red carpet visit on Sunday, giving both the movie and the Oscars a little publicity. We’ll see this weekend.