The 2012 Academy Awards was distressingly depressing as far as the awards that were handed out goes. Come to think of it, the 2012 Academy Awards was distressingly depressing as far as the broadcast goes. One highlight comes to mind: that little pre-filmed segment featuring the ensemble cast that have appeared in most of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries.
Even that was a little depressing because it reminded me of nothing so much as the time David Letterman hosted the Oscars. That broadcast has gone in history as a failure when, in fact, it was the last Oscar telecast that was actually entertaining to watch on its own basis. David Letterman utilized the concept of pre-filmed segments to provide humor for Oscar viewers in a way that hasn't been done since. Until Billy Crystal stole the concept. And so it goes.
What that little segment featuring Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest and others from the Guest Players mocked was the contemporary implementation of a focus group to lend credence to the idea that Hollywood studio executives and producers contribute anything creative to the filmmaking process. Oh, sure, there have been studio execs like Alan Ladd, Jr. and producers like David O. Selznick that have contributed significantly creative additions to the process of making movies. Unfortunately, those kinds of executives are a thing of the past. What the Guest Players video produced for the 2012 Oscar telecast revealed with painful authenticity is how incredibly misguided and contrary to the artistic process focus groups can be.
The little movie showed what might have happened to "The Wizard of Oz" if studio execs were willing to listen to those who have no grasp of such elemental filmmaking notions as theme and imagination. The idea that actual movies being made today are constructed in part based on the input of mindless drones like those portrayed by Guest and his fellow actors may say much about the current state of movie comedy. Aside from that which is animated, the state of film comedy from Hollywood since 2000 at least has been undignified and, worse, distinctly lacking in humor.'
It is highly unlikely that such decade-defining comedies as "Napoleon Dynamite" and "The Sasquatch Gang" were the result of collective thinking at the hands of such a focus group. Of course, I have no idea whether focus groups were brought in or not; I just doubt it very, very much.
Another thing to keep in mind is that another type of comedy that has made its mark in the last decade are those made by or inspired by the works of Christopher Guest. "For Your Consideration" does not come with the stench of studio intervention. The fact that probably nothing else from the 2012 Oscar telecast will be remembered by next year except for the Guest video and the fact that it contains such a biting string of truth and the fact that everybody involved had more character development going on than could be found in the two hours of "Your Highness" brings forth an inescapable truth.
Christopher Guest needs to make a full length movie featuring those characters in a movie that takes aim at studio interference and focus groups.
For more from Timothy Sexton, Yahoo! Voices first Writer of the Year, check out: