It was a good night for Idolator faves at the Oscars last night. A.R. Rahman won twice, both for his original score and for the song “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire. But you know that already. You might not know about James Franco.
What’s not to love about James Franco? He seems like a refugee from the ’90s, he’s totally dreamy, and he was in my No. 3 movie of last year. (No, not Milk.) Normally a Hollywood actor professing not to watch TV because he’s “in a lot of classes right now” would come off as pretentious, but instead of offering up embarrassing freshman-year platitudes, Franco mentions that he’s reading Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion-centric entry in the 33 1/3 series, even giving a fairly accurate summation of the book’s premise. As David Barker, the series’ editor, put it, “a 33 1/3 book was discussed on the red carpet” is “not a phrase I ever envisioned myself typing.”
One certainly got a feeling that the book had broken out beyond music-nerd circles, but it’s very interesting to see just how far it’s gone. Not to say that Franco’s mention will necessarily trigger a rush to Amazon amongst Oscar-watchers (though Wilson opens the book with a discussion of Celine’s appearance on the 1998 Oscars alongside Elliot Smith, so there’s a certain appropriateness to Franco bringing it up last night), but it certainly speaks to the book’s resonance that it was mentioned at an event whose main purpose is to celebrate consensus and common knowledge.
It’s also interesting because, for music nerds on the Internet around 2003 or 2004, the two main points of contention were M.I.A. and popism. The arguments reached a point that some started arguing for their essential irrelevance, that no one cared about these sort of things outside the music-crit bubble. Well, last night, M.I.A. was nominated for an Oscar, and a book (partially) about popism was mentioned on the red carpet. It goes to show you never can tell, huh?