Watching the Academy Awards last night was like sitting through an academic conference: The people may have been more attractive, but otherwise it was a predictable crush of virtue signaling, group-thinking, and self-congratulating, all congealing to deliver the least stirring three hours in recent pop culture memory.
With one exception.
Introduced, to the chortles of Jews worldwide, as Gail Gadot, the Israeli superstar was the evening’s uncontestable star. You may, of course, wonder if an Israeli man who is a huge fan of Gadot and who writes a column entitled “This Week in Gal Gadot” is an objective observer of such matters, but you’d be missing the point: Alone in a room of middling marionettes craving nothing but the validation of their artless peers, she was a real person really connecting with other people and have fun for real.
Well, not precisely alone. Two other women radiated the same basic warmth so rarely in evidence at the Dolby Theatre last night: Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, both of whom are outspoken about their Jewish heritage. Like Gadot, Rudolph and Haddish weren’t on stage to deliver dreary canned speeches or rousing political addresses. They didn’t much care for the self-inflicted paralysis of political correctness making our culture progressively more intolerable and irrelevant. They were there to have fun, which, really, is why anyone goes to the movies to begin with.
In one particularly painful bit, the show’s host, Jimmy Kimmel, dragged a gaggle of celebrities across the street to a movie theater, where they surprised an unsuspecting audience mid-screening. The famous men in the room were as unmemorable as their tuxedoes, and the famous women struck their made-for-the-camera smiles, which was awkward when delivered not on the red carpet but on an ordinary carpet of a regular movie theater, soiled with bits of popcorn and Junior Mints and the detritus of everyday life. Gadot, alone among her peers, charged to the front of the room, laughed, and seemed genuinely pleased to be hanging out with normal people. It is, most likely, a skill she picked up back home in Israel, a country too small for anyone to put on airs.
If you think I’m being needlessly vicious to the poor moneyed mandarins of Hollywood, consider this: Yesterday’s show was the least-watched in history. If its producers want to avoid another disaster next year, all they have to do is give the mic to Wonder Woman.