Of course the Oscars were long. Of course, the presenter’s cue card jokes fell flat. Neil Patrick Harris, so effortlessly charming at the Tony’s, appeared stiff, even in B.V.D.’s and black socks. Still, Lady Gaga made the most of her prime product placement spot by singing better than many thought, even if she’s no Julie Andrews.
I winced when Sean Penn strode on stage to present the Oscar for Best Picture. I should like this guy – Haiti philanthropist and gay-rights champion – but he’s so dour. He proved his Oscar-awkwardness a few years ago in his tone-deaf defense of Jude Law against host Chris Rock’s jabs.
But he eclipsed that last night when inserted the phrase, “Who gave this son-of-a-bitch a green card” for millions to hear before announcing Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu’s name for Birdman as Best Picture. Perhaps in better comic hands it might have seemed a joke. But from too earnest Mr. Penn, it was beyond insensitive. It was wrong.
We are a nation of immigrants. We should be proud that the United States offers Mr. Iñárritu creative opportunities and that chooses to pursue his creativity within our borders.
I hope that Mr. Penn offers Mr. Iñárritu a sincere and public apology today. And I hope the Oscar powers keep Mr. Penn off the presenter’s podium for years to come.