The Fame game

The Oscars
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One, two, three, left, kick! One, two, three, left, kick! Oh, those Oscar dance routines. You know. The spangles, the beads, the sequins and the men who wear them. Picture the Fame-like exhortations of the raddled old ex-gypsy-in-charge during rehearsals, a man who once shook a leg in Damn Yankees and who thinks A Chorus Line is a documentary: "You gotta sell it bigtime. There'll be sweat, there'll be pain, there'll be bunions. But you gotta smile, though your calves are aching! Smile, and give the people lots of deep shoulder action. Now form a line and concentrate, because this year we're doing something different. Ready? One, two, three, left, kick!"

It's all sub-Broadway, of course, heading for Vegas in a tight leotard, with bits of disco, ballet and fill-in-the-blank space thrown in, but if it were less dated - we're talking mid-Seventies here - and any better then frankly, my dear, who would give a damn. Without the Musical Numbers From Hell, the Oscars would just be the annual Tom Hanks Sob-In. With the numbers it's... it's a religious experience.

Here's a vision: Rob Lowe with Snow White and seven gyrating dwarves opening one Eighties ceremony with a lounge act version of "Proud Mary". One could live a lifetime without watching some poor servant of Terpsichore having to impersonate a simpering Disney character rolling, rolling, rolling on the river, or an entire troupe of high-kickers wearing purple chiffon head-dresses RuPaul would reject, lipsynching to "Hooray for Hollywood" - but the Oscars bring this into your home, gratis. One's response must be pathetic gratitude. Otherwise you would have missed Sheena Easton singing "For Your Eyes Only" as dancers slunk about in a I'm-a-British-spy sort of way, while others swung from ropes, fired guns at one another and bumped and ground against a background of laser beams. And what about "Ghostbusters", with the dancers cowering and looking scared and jumping in the air when colleagues mouthed the word "Boo!"? Love that concept! Why are these spectacles so compulsive? Well, because they're the pop cultural equivalents of car accidents: try not looking. And because they're so senselessly confident, so un-ironic. And, most of all, because they prove that even when glamour has died, the corpse is still good for something, if only cheap laughs. Break a leg.

John Lyttle