I have been trying to think of something to say about the Nobel thing, and can’t. It’s too weird. The only observation I can make is that the award probably makes more sense if you think of it as a way of thanking the U.S. for electing somebody the committee likes (at least at the moment). The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein compared it, on his Twitter feed, to the year Time magazine named “You” as the Person of the Year, and I think that is the closest comparison. But even then, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Also, as Salon’s Glenn Greenwald points out (and contradicting my statement that liberals/Democrats now tend toward “soft” messaging), the Democratic National Committee’s press flack’s statement is pretty sleazy. He says that the Republicans have “thrown their lot in with the terrorists” in criticizing the prize. Now, the Republican/conservative freakout is fun to watch but criticizing the president or saying he didn’t deserve an award is obviously not “throwing their lot in with the terrorists”; it’s like saying that Vegetarians throw their lot in with Hitler.
On another media-related note, I will say that I object to the Marisa Tomei jokes that have been made by everyone from Time’s Mark Halperin to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. Tomei was a perfectly good choice for the Oscar the year she won for My Cousin Vinny. She used to be the butt of jokes because she didn’t do much in the years following her Oscar, and because she beat out four Brits and won for a light comedy (albeit a good one). But she was good in that movie, and she’s had a good career, and it’s time to find someone else to hold up as the gold standard for undeserved awards.
I was also trying to find SCTV’s sketch “The Nobel,” but it’s not online. So here are some highlights from the legendarily terrible movie that sketch was parodying, The Oscar. It’s actually a lot funnier than the SCTV sketch, and at least it can teach us all about the proper reaction when someone loses an award he really wanted: undisguised joy.
The other Nobel Prize comedy sketch I remember, oddly enough, is also Canadian: it was a Wayne and Shuster sketch I saw as a kid, where they imagine a glitzy Oscars-style Nobel ceremony, with musical numbers about Alfred Nobel (“With what he had done/He was the one/Who could blow the whole world to hell…/So he created a prize that was for/People who laboured for peace not for war/Let’s hear it for Alfred Nobel”). The only other thing I remember from that sketch was that the winner of the Peace Prize was the guy who invented the button that turns off the TV.