Flavin's Corner
3-26-99

Post-Oscar Fears

     This week's column isn't about last Sunday night's "Academy Awards"
show on ABC.  It really isn't!  I couldn't care less if Gwyneth Paltrow won for
Best Actress.  In Shakespeare In Love did she lose an arm, double back, pick it
up, and continue across the screen?  Nope...  Clearly Spielberg's Saving Pvt.
Ryan was robbed.  Maybe there wasn't a lot of female-type roles to be had in
the W.W.II flic, but ...Saving Pvt. Ryan was the only movie of the past year
which disturbed me.  Angry, sick, ...didn't want to talk to anyone after seeing
it, and still don't feel like talking about the waste of war.  Gwyneth got the
"Oscar" because she was a fem, competing in a fem category, and there was no
way the Academy would have voted a guy for Best Actress.  It's a biased
world we live in, certainly pro-fem, and though a discussion of Oscar Wilde
and a penchant for "wienies" could be useful to contemporary decadents, a
clearer view of bias may be had by examining our current approach to Oscar
Madison, the slovenly, divorced, sports-writer half of The Odd Couple.  We've
turned our backs on Oscar and all he represents.  Shame on us.

     However, as layers of the multiverse ourselves, each of us must appreciate
the distinctiveness of the individual "Oscars."  Neil Simon was 38 years old
when his play, The Odd Couple, premiered in 1965.  We may assume that he
envisioned the approximate ages of his two divorced guys to be near his own.
But, as Hollywood would have it, both the 1968 film version with Walter
Matthau and the television series, which began in 1970, with Jack Klugman,
featured 48 year old actors in the role of "Oscar."  Sure, I understand that
Hollywood likes to use older actors in young roles, but the age-thing is
compounded when we consider that the television "Oscar" had no children
from his marriage, while the "Oscars" of both the play and movie were
divorced dads.  Simon's 1965 "Oscar" is gone now.  1993's television reunion
movie, The Odd Couple Together Again, and last year's tortuous film, The
Odd Couple II, have forever taken the character from us.  Sniff...  I still get
mad when people say they liked Walter Matthau as Quincy, M.E.

     When in the course of creative events a writer generates a character with
such unique traits that the character-name afterwards is used in an archetypal
sense, the writer has done his/her job well.  Oscar, the slob, and Felix, the
neat-freak, have became passwords for extreme behavior.  However, unlike
many other literary characters, no one (at least in my opinion and prayers) will
someday put together The Odd Couple Funeral, The Odd Couple: The Next
Generation, or some such desperation.  A new Tarzan novel, a Sherlock
Holmes short story, or the upcoming live-action Spider-Man movie featuring
Peter Parker (Spidy's secret identity) still in high school , are legitimate
developments.  Bye, Oscar...  I think if you come back someone will be forced
to put a stake in you.

     The exaggerated sloppiness is another matter.  Oscar's operant conditioning
of feeling safe and satisfied surrounded by dirty socks and empty Chinese-food
boxes is an example of fairly common behavior in all of us, at one time or
another, though only discussed as a male function, because ...it ain't nice to talk
about sloppy chicks.  Ya' can only go so far.  If Roseanne would have been any
sloppier her kids would have been nabbed by Children's Services.  Men are
allowed to assume the role of "slob," often in a pejorative manner, most
recently in Rob Schneider's Men Behaving Badly.  With Oscar slobs had a
role-model, kids wanted to grow up to be like Oscar, and despite the aberrant
60s, it was a simpler world.  I wonder if there's room in the next millennium for
slobs?

     My greatest post-Oscar fears would have to be ...forced recycling and a
mandatory prison sentence for repeat littering.  In our zeal to heal the damage
done to Mom Terra from the Industrial Age (which continues, but overlaps the
beginning of the Nuclear Age), certain agenda-driven groups have attempted to
coat-tail on concerns for the planet.  Smoke pot, but not cigarettes some say.
Don't eat meat, but be sure and wear a black leather jacket while you eat your
salad.  Be open, honest, and supportive in personal relationships, but never tie
the blindfold too tight.  Ask not what the planet can do for you, but what you
can do for the planet.  Sloppiness can be art, apparent disorder is someone
else's order, and leaving dirty socks on the floor is not a capital crime!  Of
course, it must be added, all of this is hypothetical, as I'm a very neat fellow
and haven't littered since 1981 and I'm currently beginning my twenty-first year
of being flatulence-free.  Right...

     Now, avoiding sarcasm, I've often described myself as part Oscar and part
Felix.  Am I a slob?  Well, my desk and files are ...not in the best of shape.
When I cook I often wash, rinse, and (using the convenient description ANAL
RETENTIVE would NOT be good, here, as this is about food...) try my best
to keep things in order, as they should be, and do feel that Felix would behave
likewise.  Those extremes of human nature combine, in degrees, to produce the
wonderful plethora of differences which make us all interesting.  Without one,
the other ...gets lonely.  I believe we need to get in touch with our individual
aspects of The Odd Couple, keep them close, yell at them often, and accept
extremes and normality as models of ...the way it is.  We're all a little Oscar
and a little Felix.  Some, of course, more one than the other.  I still like Oscar
best...

     There's a huge difference here:  Gwyneth's dirty socks on the floor and
Oscar's.  Okay, I'd pick up Gwyneth's socks, but that's a personal choice.  This
column is not about Gwyneth...  Right.

picking up lonely socks,
Rick

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