Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Oscar "Curse"

Sometimes I think that we haven’t come very far in the fight for equal rights women. Then, I see something like a high school production of Annie Get Your Gun, and I am reminded of just how much has been accomplished since 1946, when the play was first produced. Annie, however, was pretty prescient in its treatment of the celebrity marriage with all of its ups and downs.

For those of you who don’t know the story—and I didn’t before seeing the show—Annie is a girl from the country who is illiterate but can shoot a gnat off a pig’s nose without hurting the pig. She meets up with “show biz people” in the form of sharpshooter Frank Butler; his snotty sister and assistant, Dolly; and Buffalo Bill who produces and bankrolls the show. Naturally, she falls in love with Frank, but in order to get her man, must hide from him the fact that she is a way more talented sharpshooter than he’ll ever be. But what’s more important? Fame or love? Accolades for one’s accomplishments or the warm embrace of a guy in a white satin Western suit? You can only imagine which Annie chooses.

Throw in a bunch of politically-incorrect “Indians,” who sing monosyllabic songs of love and act as something of a Greek chorus and you have the makings of the most racist and sexist show I’ve ever seen. Annie makes last year’s production of South Pacific seem like “Do the Right Thing.”

Child #1 played in the orchestra pit, as she did last year. I asked her about the content of the show and she responded that all of the kids—from the actors to the orchestra members—were commenting on just how ridiculous the show’s plot was. How it was racist and sexist. At least the kids have the good sense to know what’s what.

Child #1 said that it was hard to believe that people actually believed that a woman should hide her talent to spare the feelings and ego of her partner. Although I’d like to think that this kind of behavior is no longer common place, consider the “Best Actress Oscar” curse, as it is called.

Seems that almost every Best Actress winner from the past decade has seen her marriage or relationship break up shortly after receiving the highest award an actress can be given for her film work. There was Halle Berry who kicked sex addict Eric Benet to the curb after winning for “Monster’s Ball”; Julia Roberts, who broke up with hunk Benjamin Bratt shortly after winning her Oscar for “Erin Brockovich”; Charlize Theron who ended it with Stuart Townshend shortly after being recognized for playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos. And who could forget Hilary Swanks’ tearful acceptance speech where she thanked everyone from her cleaning lady to her dental hygienist and forgot poor Chad Lowe, her husband a talented actor in his own right? Had he not been such a talented actor, he never would have been able to stand by her side for one red carpet interview after another remarking about his wife’s talent and how it was really ok that she had forgotten to thank him at the Academy Awards. But a frozen smile and a clenched jaw are dead giveaways, and that was a man who cared.

The list goes on. Talented women with husbands who can stay in the shadows for just so long. Our most recent example, Jesse James, betrayed America’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock, revelations about his extracurricular activities (available in paperback at bookstores near you!) coming to light from a woman who can probably hear the clock ticking on her fifteen minutes of fame as I write this. According to the tabs, Sandra has moved out and if she has any sense, she won’t move back in. (Side note—saw a celebrity psychologist on television talking about the James-Bullock marriage and she said that the only way they could come back together is if he reestablishes trust with Sandra. To which I say a big, fat, “DUH.”)

Maybe we haven’t changed all that much since Annie Get Your Gun came out. Is it just show biz marriages? Because I know plenty of married couples who share in the excitement of one another’s accomplishments. Isn’t that part of the deal?

What do you think, Stiletto faithful?

Maggie Barbieri


  1. I think it often boils down to people being too selfish and self-involved to adopt what has been glibly called "an attitude of gratitude". Basically, people are so busy chasing the bigger, better deal they are sure is out there, looking for having everything at every moment, that they cannot respect and accept that they have a good thing right in front of them. Why are we turning into such a hedonistic society? I wish I knew.

    What I do know is that so many people seem to be more preoccupied with merely entertaining themselves until they die. So what if you have a home, food, decent health, and good people to love and like in your life? DAMMIT, you deserve MORE!

    It's pretty stupid and sickening.

    Lastly, I think the culture of celebrity and wealth will exacerbate this problem because you spend your time in a world with few if any restrictions and reality-checks. So, you start to feel exempt. I'm looking at you Tiger Woods. But, I could just as well be looking at Jack or Jill Smith right in my own neighborhood.

    There, that's my rant to Maggie's very good post.

  2. Wow, I hadn't heard of the James-Bullock breakup. I really like Sandra and hope she doesn't go back to a cheater! Your points are such good ones, Maggie. Being the man behind a strong woman is tough for our macho American men, and maybe equally hard for our strong women to figure out how to create balance.

    Interesting post, Maggie! Makes me think.

  3. Hmm. I played Dolly in the 6th grade. LOL

    I agree with everything you said. I have to wonder, though, about women who marry someone who has cheated on previous partners. That old leopard and his spots cliche is a cliche for a reason. If he's a repeat offender, why do some assume that their love is different and he'd never do that to them? I think in Sandra's case she should have trusted her first instincts and just stayed away from him. According to an interview she did just after the oscars, she hesitated a long time before agreeing to go out with Jesse, and it seems she was right to do so.

  4. Sad indeed, though I always thought they were a mis-matched pair. His daughter that Sandra had accepted and was mothering is another one hurt by dad's stupidity.


  5. It is a male macho thing I think. ANd remembering to consider others. I asked my husband once when we were both in the army if he would have cared if I'd come in as an officer. He said, "Hell no that'd just be more money for us." That always impressed me, we have been married 39 years as of last month. All types of strange things we've dealt with and we just roll along.

  6. I agree with everything y'all have said. I think even in 2010, it's hard for some men to deal with partners who are more successful financially. It's like an affront to their manhood or something. I'm with Zita: a man (or woman) who's been a cheater is likely to cheat again. Just so much news these days about cheating on both sides. Does anyone else feel like hard news is a thing of the past and "entertainment" stories command too much attention? Or maybe I'm just sick of hearing about Hollywood, even on my local news stations.