What are the odds that next year’s awards will be hosted by a middle-aged man?
Pretty good, considering that the youthful duo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway turned out to be a colossal flop. Their failure was partly a matter of demeanor; Franco looked like he had wandered in from the set of “Pineapple Express” and was ready for some munchies, and Hathaway overcompensated by shouting ‘”Woo!!’’ a lot. But in fairness, the two of them were doomed from the start. When an old and stodgy institution explicitly tries to appeal to a younger demographic, it usually comes off looking all wrong. Old institutions are inclined to play it safe; last night, a movie about actual youth culture lost the big prize to a film about reserved, aging Brits. The Academy may have wanted to draw in younger voters, but it was never going to turn over the stage over to the cast of “Skins,” or throw out
its writing staff, or shake up its format in any discernible way. Instead, it hired two young people to play old people playing young people. When Hathaway made a joke about a drinking game, you imagined her handlers had to prep her on what a drinking game was.
In fact, the Oscars contained precisely one nod to genuine youth culture: an Autotune bit that turned “Harry Potter” and “Twilight: Eclipse” into musicals. (Autotune is kind of last year’s joke, but we’ll let it slide.) Otherwise, it turned into an unlikely love song to Billy Crystal, who hosted the festivities for eight years, in the 90s and most recently in 2004. Nothing turns off America’s youth like inauthenticity, and what made Crystal such a good host was the fact that he was totally authentic: a proud, unapologetic purveyor of schlock, at an event that is basically schlock dressed up in a Valentino gown. Please, Billy! Come back! We promise not to talk about your Botox if you do.
And if you don’t…Justin Timberlake would probably be pretty great.