Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Of Shamans and Charlize: Pot at the Oscars

Once more the Oscar ceremonies seemed to be dominated by weed lovers, starting with host Seth MacFarlane. Noted for his "Family Guy" series with segments like "Bag o' Weed," MacFarlane did better with his musical numbers than he did with his jokes.

Charlize Theron shone in a dance number at the show's opening, nearly rescuing MacFarlane—as she did a security guard who had a seizure on the red carpet. Theron was caught on camera smoking pot out of an apple in 2002. [Update 2018: Theron now admits she was "a wake-and-baker for most of my life."]

Jane Fonda, who was spotted last year smoking pot at a post-Oscar party, wowed everyone at the age of 75 in her sleek Versace gown. She co-presented with Michael Douglas, who urged the U.S. to consider legalizing the use of marijuana in 2009.

Another bright spot was the surprise appearance of Barbra Streisand, singing "The Way We Were" in a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlich. According to David Crosby's book Stand and Be Counted, her role in that movie was dependent on her appearing at a 1972 McGovern rally planned by Warren Beatty, at which she appeared to take a toke from a joint onstage.

Anne Hathaway, who smoked pot onscreen in "Havoc" (2005), took home a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress trophy for Les Miserables.  As is now de rigueur, she thanked everyone including her publicist, but failed to recognize the story's author Victor Hugo, a member of Le Club des Hashishins.

Daniel Day Lewis did give a nod to Abraham Lincoln, who inspired his Oscar-winning performance. Depicted in that movie were Lincoln's secretary John Hay, who took cannabis while a student at Brown and went on to become Secretary of State; and Mary Todd Lincoln, the daughter of hemp farmers in Kentucky. (Reports remain unconfirmed that Abraham Lincoln smoked a hemp pipe, although he did play a harmonica.)

Ang Lee, who won Best Director for "The Life of Pi," said he'd tried marijuana while being interviewed in Cannes for his movie "Taking Woodstock" in 2009. Quentin Tarantino, who took Best Original Screenplay for "Django Unchained," recently compared the drug war to slavery. He's pictured on the Craig Ferguson show wearing a Lifted Research Group T-shirt with pot leaves. (See Lifted's Ladies T: Don't Do Drugs, Smoke Weed.)

Presenting the Best Picture prize of the night was the incomparable Jack Nicholson, who says he still smokes weed, and Michelle Obama, who's married to a former enthusiast. It went to "Argo," co-produced and directed by Ben Affleck, who graduated from stoner movies like "Dazed and Confused" and "Chasing Amy." George Clooney, also a producer, has said he liked acid and mushrooms in college.

"Every day through engagement in the arts, children learn to dream big," said our First Lady. "If a film crew is a tribe, the cinematographer is the shaman," said Robert Downey Jr. It seems like there are a whole lot of shamans in Hollywood, and we're all the tribe.

The entire ceremony is now online.

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