Os­cars’ Hart dis­ease surely just a symp­tom

National Post (National Edition) - - ISSUES & IDEAS - COLBY COSH Na­tional Post [email protected]­tion­al­post.com Twit­ter.com/Col­byCosh

What are the big­gest days of the year for mar­i­juana sales? Prob­a­bly, if you are a part of what we used to call the “cannabis cul­ture,” you know the an­swers. Me, I found out by ac­ci­dent when I stum­bled upon Wash­ing­ton State’s open sales data from its re­tail mar­i­juana shops. With Cana­dian pot re­tail­ers fail­ing to meet sup­ply pres­sures in the first weeks of le­gal­iza­tion, I got cu­ri­ous about the de­tails of the sales cy­cle in the U.S. states that beat us to it.

Wash­ing­ton, it turns out, pub­lishes in­sanely de­tailed mi­cro­data: you can down­load a data­base whose rows have the ex­act time, price, quan­tity and lo­ca­tion of lit­er­ally ev­ery in­di­vid­ual sale of mar­i­juana made in the state over a pe­riod of about two years. The big­gest sales pe­ri­ods turn out to be im­me­di­ately be­fore Christ­mas, New Year’s, and the La­bor Day long week­end. Right up there with them, though, is April 20 — the 4/20 date con­se­crated to the holy herb.

And, to my sur­prise, the Fri­day and Satur­day be­fore the Os­cars. (I do not know if Cana­dian cannabis shops are aware that they will face a siege be­fore the Os­car broad­cast, which is sched­uled for Sun­day, Feb. 24, but if you are in a po­si­tion to profit from this in­for­ma­tion, don’t for­get to thank me.)

I was think­ing about this dis­cov­ery Fri­day morn­ing when the co­me­dian and ac­tor Kevin Hart re­signed as the 2019 host of the Os­cars — the last act of a minidrama that had lasted about a week, al­though Hart’s part in it was more like 48 hours. As De­cem­ber got un­der­way, the Hol­ly­wood press be­gan to no­tice that the Acad­emy Awards, which usu­ally has se­lected and an­nounced a host by now, had not made any vis­i­ble progress on the choice.

The gig, it was widely ob­served, has be­come the def­i­ni­tion of a thank­less job. It does not pay es­pe­cially well, it in­volves a lot of work, and ab­so­lutely no one ever seems to emerge from it with pos­i­tive re­views. (If they can man­age it once, they get dumped on in year two.) Hart, as some­one who has achieved mid-level movie star­dom and has a broadly fam­ily friendly pro­file, was be­ing men­tioned as a good can­di­date. On Wed­nes­day he an­nounced that he was tak­ing the gig.

This be­ing 2018, the ob­vi­ous se­quence of events fol­lowed. Hart was in­stantly found to have made a few harm­less gay jokes on Twit­ter many years ago; the one that in­vited the great­est quan­tity of pre­tended hor­ror read “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daugh­ters doll house I’m go­ing 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.” It is not a very good joke — as a rule, pro­fes­sional co­me­di­ans don’t waste the primo stuff on Twit­ter — but it might be de­fended as a joke at the teller’s own ex­pense, a joke re­ally about dads. No one was ever sup­posed to lit­er­ally be­lieve Kevin Hart would as­sault his child for fail­ing to con­form to gen­der spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

But the zeit­geist in­sists on id­i­otic literalism as a moral im­per­a­tive, so Hart spent a few hours delet­ing old tweets and ex­plain­ing that he had al­ready apol­o­gized for the edgy ones. This, of course, did not save him. It merely sig­nalled weak­ness, and soon Hart was out. If Neil Pa­trick Harris has not yet sent his tux out for clean­ing, he should prob­a­bly get on that.

Whether or not the pres­sure ap­plied to Kevin Hart was fair, I do not think it can be dis­puted that the Os­cars, as an event, are in cri­sis. My lit­tle fac­toid about Os­car­linked pot sales shows how cen­tral they are to our cul­ture. In prin­ci­ple, they have some­thing for ev­ery­one. Just as you can watch a ball game in a beer fog while curs­ing at Joey Votto, or have the game on your com­puter next to a spread­sheet while you gam­ble or make fan­tasy-league trans­ac­tions, you can en­joy the Os­cars in a myr­iad of ways. They’ve got sex, eco­nomics, fash­ion, drama and sur­prises and ab­sur­di­ties ex­actly like those that make sports en­joy­able. You can even bet on them.

But the con­tra­dic­tions in­her­ent to the Acad­emy Awards seem to be de­stroy­ing them. The Os­cars have al­ways been torn be­tween be­ing a pop­u­lar event and a trade show; be­tween high­art as­pi­ra­tions and the slick shi­nola that pays the bills; be­tween be­ing a dis­play of cheese­cake and a cel­e­bra­tion of mil­i­tant so­cial jus­tice; and be­tween the im­per­a­tive role of co­me­di­ans in the cer­e­mony and the bru­tal­ity with which com­edy is treated by Acad­emy vot­ers.

What’s new is that the bot­tom line is suf­fer­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter, the rat­ings for the TV broad­cast are down al­most 40 per cent since 2014. The Os­cars need an A-list host more than ever — yet Kevin Hart’s drum­head trial is go­ing to make the dif­fi­culty of finding one much worse. I am not sure there is even any sense in com­plain­ing about the per­va­sive touch­i­ness, the feral “hu­man search en­gine” ac­tiv­ity, that did him in. What I won­der is to what de­gree com­mon mass cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences are even pos­si­ble any­more. Then again, maybe that’s what all the weed is for.

THE ZEIT­GEIST IN­SISTS ON ID­I­OTIC LITERALISM ASANIMPERATIVE. — COLBY COSH

CHRIS PIZZELLO / INVISION / AP

Kevin Hart has been taken to task for a few off-the-cuff gay jokes made on Twit­ter years ago.

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