Tuned In

The Morning After: Sold With a Kiss

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I may not be entirely qualified to comment on last night’s MTV Movie Awards, seeing as how I am old—old enough never to even have fantasized making out with a vampire. Also, between a choppy cable connection and the constant (yet inconsistently applied) language beeps, the event was often more like watching a slideshow than a live-video event.

But it’s hard to see the awards as a TV show, really, or even as a movie-awards ceremony, so much as it is an efficient and institutionalized two-hour sales pitch for pretty much anything anyone wants to sell anyone 25 years old or younger this summer: movies, music, skin products. MTV’s awards shows have as rigid and regimented a format as any old-school Hollywood awardscast by now, one of those rules being: someone will do something “shocking,” very likely involving a woman kissing another woman.

Last night, Sandra Bullock and Scarlett Johansson did the honors, locking lips awkwardly and dutifully at the end of a “Generations” award acceptance, in which Bullock stood in front of a monochrome image of her own face, as if she were being honored for her decades-long career in film that began with her appearance in the landmark silent film Speed, opposite Douglas Fairbanks Sr., in 1917. Or something like that. Before the smooch, Bullock was honored by her costar in The Proposal, Betty White; Bullock also delivered a lengthy riff on her recent media and tabloid troubles that ended with an awkward segue asking us all to focus our attention on the situation in the Gulf of Mexico instead. Thanks for giving us permission, Sandra.

But the Generations award wasn’t all that the awards had to offer us old people, to comfort us on our brief march to the grave: Tom Cruise opened with a funny riff on his character Les Grossman in a sketch that managed simultaneously to promote the new Karate Kid movie and give us Olds a reference to Ralph Macchio’s original. Aziz Ansari did a creditable job returning to the home of Human Giant as a host, though he was stronger in his taped bits than his standup. As for the musical performances, I especially dug Katy Perry’s team-up with Snoop Dogg on “California Girls,” two performers whose strengths include not being burdened by taking themselves at all seriously.

But for all the starpower and firepower concentrated for these awards, you’d think MTV could assembled a directing/production crew that could do a better job pulling this off technically. For starters: the constant cutaway shot to sullen-looking young audience members; how can you expect your home viewers to have a good time with the show when half your audience reactions are of people who looked perplexed and/or annoyed to be there? Second: a quicker finger on the dump button. I’m personally not offended by swearing, and I think that bleeping profanities—especially the fleeting bleeps that essentially cut half the “u” from a f-bomb—is pointless and only fetishizes them. But if you’re going to do it, make sure you get all of them. I’m expecting the outraged press release from the Parents Television Council in 3, 2, 1…

Oh, also, for those of you interested, there were some awards:

• “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” — Chris Weitz, Director; Wyck Godfrey and Karen Rosenfelt, Producers (Summit Entertainment)

• Robert Pattinson – “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (Summit Entertainment)

• Kristen Stewart – “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (Summit Entertainment)

• Anna Kendrick – “Up In The Air” (Paramount Pictures)

• Zach Galifianakis – “The Hangover” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

• Tom Felton – “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

• Beyoncé vs. Ali Larter – “Obsessed” (Screen Gems/Sony Pictures)

• Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson – “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (Summit Entertainment)

• Ken Jeong – “The Hangover” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

• Amanda Seyfried – “Jennifer’s Body” (Twentieth Century Fox)

• Rain – “Ninja Assassin” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

• Robert Pattinson – “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” (Summit Entertainment)

After the awards, MTV debuted The Hard Times of R.J. Berger, which I had high hopes for, but I thought its potential (a teen raunch-com with shadings of Superbad and The In-Betweeners) was undercut by way too many thin characters and stereotypes. There was enough I liked to catch a couple more episodes, but let me know if you will too.