Seth, Shirley, Barbra, and Jane
WASHINGTON – Never has there been more caterwauling. Never mind that it was pure nonsense, because the 85th Oscars was packed from start to finish with females shown in their best light, taking focus at every turn from the men who still run the town.
It’s so odd that so many people are obsessing over the hilarious “We Saw Your Boobs,” which was meant to nab a younger demographic and did just that. It worked, because having that song at the top meant that maybe some of those younger viewers wouldn’t change the channel.
Seth MacFarlane got the last laugh with the only thing that matters, even though yet another decent host says he won’t be back again. Oscars should book Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, stat.
But 40.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Sunday’s 85th annual Oscars, a million more than last year, and the 3-hour-and-35-minute trophy show turned in its biggest total since 2010. Among the young-male fan base of MacFarlane’s often-crude Family Guy and Ted, the audience grew 34% over last year, a bigger jump than for any other group. (Last year’s Oscars also aired opposite the NBA All-Star Game.) The gain among young women, and ABC’s target audience of adults 18 to 49, was 11%, while ratings among folks 50 and older, many of whom had probably never heard of the host, dropped 9%. – Some critics skewer MacFarlane, but Oscars’ ratings up
Seventy never looked like this before for women. Aging men have always been considered distinguished. Aging women have always been reduced to seeming asexual, matronly, a person of dryness, instead of molten liquid. Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda changed that on Sunday and Oscar set it up.
It’s why, amid the cries of sexism against Seth MacFarlane, which includes a ridiculous Slate post that didn’t even get Anne Hathaway’s Oscar correct, everyone missed the magnificent women of well over a certain age that took center stage. This has rarely been seen before and was in addition to all the other females who were the stars. Anne Hathaway, but especially Jennifer Lawrence, stole the show from the men in the same categories, even if Hathaway was getting mocked while Lawrence was getting embraced. Adele to Catherine Zeta-Jones, Charlize Theron to Halle Berry, the Oscars on Sunday celebrated females jubilantly, but didn’t stop at Meryl Streep.
The Oscars have rarely been so female-centric. Hollywood has never honored talented women over 70 who were sensual, beautiful and who also remain supremely talented and viable, perhaps even bankable.
So it’s ironic that the same Slate post I reference above is titled “Forget Seth MacFarlane’s sexist jokes. This was the End of Men Oscars,” while whining about MacFarlane’s alleged sexism. The title and the subject unmask it for what it is. Political correctness run amok.
Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand and Shirley Bassey changed everything for women on Sunday, though we won’t see it for years. They walked out on stage and defied their age through their appearances on a night where looks, beauty and sex appeal are the admission price and beauty is normally reserved for the young.
The smoldering 70s, that was the new category founded by Fonda, 75, Bassey, 76, and Streisand, 70. [Based on birth dates on Wikileaks.]
None of these women look like an old crone who has dried up, which has been the depiction of women over childbearing age, starting at 45 or so. But that these women are well into grandmother status hardly mattered. Their sensuality, grace and beauty defied gravity and age on Sunday, the Hollywood film industry giving a nod to a generation of women that seldom is seen or heard from in the manner they were shown at the 85th Oscars.
Women no longer have to grow old gracefully. Kicking and screaming, with creams and a little work here and there, is the only way to go. And it isn’t for just the very rich anymore, though no one can doubt the more money you’ve got the better you can hold on to your beauty.
There comes a time when we all will surrender to our betraying bodies, but as long as there’s fire, there’s fight. So guard your health.
Seventy no longer means a woman has to look as old as she is. Shirley, Barbra and Jane proved that fact at this year’s Oscars, which honored women, while making fun of the industry in which they navigate, and owes them more longevity in their careers than screenwriters are currently offering.
Somewhere beyond The Graduate and Fifty Shades of Grey there are innumerable vixen and villain roles for mature women like Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, as well as Shirley Bassey. Hollywood studios and independent film producers simply have to find the writers willing to mine it.
Taylor Marsh, is an author and veteran political analyst who has contributed to Huffington Post, The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, as well as cable outfits from Al Jazeera to CNN and beyond. A former Broadway performer, Miss Missouri in the Miss American Pageant, Marsh also dabbled in radio and wrote, directed and produced her one-woman show “Weeking for J.F.K.” Author of The Hillary Effect, Marsh’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and culture.