2010 Oscars too awful to comprehend

This year's Academy Awards lacked the spark of the past.

It is the accurate and responsible conclusion to insist this year's Oscars were a vomit-worthy disaster. Not even after his death will Hugh Jackman be so sorely missed, or Jon Stewart, now so distant a memory to be cherished like the Christ-like messiah of Ronald Reagan. It was a sad moment to witness, as the introduction to the most elaborate award show in the business was ruined by two phoned-in hosts relying on a disgustingly relentless gag: "Look who else is here!" Only a televised Oscar mass-suicide could have taken more life out of the room.

For all his influence on comedy over the last 40 years, the fact remains Steve Martin should have died nearly a decade ago. The dangling corpse of Johnny Carson, with a single puppeteer's strings dragging him through monologues, would have provided a more dazzling and passionate display. And as for Alec Baldwin, primetime comedy's newest and perhaps most surprising sweetheart, it's safe to say he couldn't host a dinner party. And if he did, I would fail to RSVP.

It should be difficult to focus on the ceremony's theatrics when the selections were so abysmal themselves. One has to wonder whether anyone at the Academy actually saw the nominated films or a line of wandering eyes simply calculated a similar thought via 6,000 weighted ballots: Who gives a shit? But it all paled in comparison to the Holocaustic presentation that not only lulled viewers into an apathetic trance, but also managed to snub the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur in the traditional "In Memoriam" montage.

Furthermore, in contrast to the usual boring performances in honor of nominated film scores, this year's organizers opted for a snazzy, hip-fresh dance troupe. What initially could be recognized as an ambitious attempt to hone in on the interests of younger audiences quickly turned into a nation of scrunched-up faces asking, "What the hell is going on here?" Break-dancing through the soundtrack for "The Hurt Locker" is about as cruel of a film injustice as a Keanu Reeves remake of "Schindler's List" with a full kazoo symphony.

And as though to justify the presence of the "Twilight" crew who, God willing, will never ascend that stage again for any reason other than eye-candy, we were given a horror film montage in case we weren't scared enough by Steve Martin's quickly deteriorating flesh. The next time the filler committee meets to organize such a half-assed effort, it should find some stock footage of Bruce Villanch digging an entire Snicker's bar out of his bellybutton. It would keep audience interest longer and be three times as horrifying.

But all of this, as devastating as it was, should have been expected after the first two minutes of "entertainment." Neil Patrick Harris looked as uncomfortable on stage as we were just watching him and twice as surprised that he made it to the end without passing out in a puddle of his own sweat, which would have only been a relief.

And through it all, Conan O'Brien sat twiddling his boney fingers and cackling at the misfortunes of his peers. "It's been only two months, Mr. Smookums," he said, stroking his cat with one hand and sipping a gauntlet of ginger ale with the other. "Two months without me, and already the industry has collapsed."

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