It was nice while it lasted.
In the least surprising news of the day, Eddie Murphy has officially quit his duties as host of this year's Oscar telecast, this following the departure of no-longer-producer Brett Ratner in light of his latest flight of idiocy, telling a fan at a Q&A that "rehearsals are for fags." (Brian Grazer is likely Ratner's replacement.)
When Ratner started catching heat for the comments yesterday, I remarked on Twitter that of course the Academy wasn't going to fire him, as he was the only reason that Murphy had agreed to host and Murphy was the only reason a lot of people would have watched this year's show. Firing Ratner would have been a bad move financially, but the outcry from the LGBT community (especially in Hollywood) would have been deafening if Ratner remained at his post. By stepping down "voluntarily", everyone gets to save face.
It's also worth noting the double standard inherent in the ensuing PR shitstorm, namely that if Ratner had used a racial slur as opposed to a homophobic one, there would have been no debate as to whether he got to keep his job. The Academy would have tossed him within the hour. While plenty of progress has been made in the last decade or so, (e.g. the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the start of legal gay marriage in a handful of states, including mine!) it's disheartening to be reminded that there are still so many people out there that won't admit/have yet to realize that homophobia and racism are essentially the same. (It still blows my mind that the Prop 8 supporters in CA were so successful in rallying the support of Hispanic voters.)
Murphy's premature exit is a real shame. I was genuinely excited to see his take on hosting the show, and it's probably the closest we'll get to seeing him do stand-up anytime soon. Murphy was on Jimmy Fallon's show promoting Tower Heist last week and the man was not only highly entertaining, but also refreshingly straightforward. When Fallon asked him why he decided to host, he basically said, "I thought it would be a good way to promote this movie." It made me start to jones for the good old days of Eddie Murphy...you know, the 80s.
I'm gonna go home, watch Trading Places, and hope that no one at the Academy is talking about Billy Crystal right now.
(Spoiler! They are.)