I must say that this year’s Oscars certainly diverted me. Apart from the obvious observations—too few melodramatic upsets, far too many top hats—I was particularly struck by the following superlatives.
Most Notable Pre-Show Trend: E! Entertainment’s use of video-infographic techniques to add unprecedented depth to its coverage of fluff. In particular, the “Glamastrator,” a device which allowed fashion analyst Jay Manuel to “freeze” an image of Heidi Klum’s red gown and “draw” on it to focus our wandering attention on a “strong graphic shape” that, in the pre-Glamastrator era, would have been known merely as a skirt slit.
Most Incognito Presenter: Alicia Keys, almost unrecognizable in heavy makeup that made her appear subcontinental. Beauty trend alert: The Smoky, Race-Transforming Slumdog Eye.
Least Persuasive Proclamation: “The Musical is Back!” After 2001’s Moulin Rouge! and 2002’s Chicago, the musical is starting to remind me of Glenn Close at the end of Fatal Attraction.
Most Enigmatic Adjective: “Elegant.” As a modifier for Barack Obama in Sean Penn’s acceptance speech: “I’m very proud to live in a country that elected an elegant man for President.” Is “elegant” the new code word for “black,” or does it simply mean “non-moronic”?
Dale Hrabi has analyzed culture and trends as a writer and editor for Details, Elle, Radar, and the New York Times. His new humor book, The Perfect Baby Handbook: A Guide for Excessively Motivated Parents, will be published in March.