Television

Like the Oscars, but More Toasted

A boozy night at the MTV Movie Awards.

Jessica Alba. Click image to expand.
Jessica Alba

Year after year, the MTV Movie Awards reads as if the producers have instructed the talent to behave as if it is trashed. In this vein, Christian Bale, scruffily delivering a best-hero acceptance speech, provided a decent approximation of Colin Farrell. Thus did Anna Faris embarrass herself by adopting the facade of a leggy bimbo. There was also rousing music: Gnarls Barkley, the new group masterminded by Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo, appeared onstage in Star Wars costumes; the drummer wore a Wookiee suit. For her part, Christina Aguilera road-tested a Prohibition-era disco diva persona that could play well from Chelsea to Caesar’s for the next 40 years. But the show, in its 15th iteration, was mostly up to its favorite old tricks—synergizing, allowing celebrities to spin their images gently, and delivering the news on the most exciting new lows in pop culture.

If you are of a certain age (or perhaps, simply, of age) then the Movie Awards’ genital-fixated humor offers a handy barometer of just what an uptight square you are. On the topic of Brokeback Mountain’s nomination for best kiss, presenters Eva Mendes and Justin Timberlake, who is still around, leered hard throughout a bit about “ranch-hand-jobs.” In the broken English of his Borat character—”I here promote my film which releases November”— Sacha Baron Cohen offered a thought about Jessica Simpson’s vagina. Miss Simpson herself set up a line in which Dane Cook promised that the “next band is gonna rock your taint off.” And in a Da Vinci Code spoof, last year’s host, Jimmy Fallon, instructed this year’s, Jessica Alba, to remove a cyptography gizmo from his pants: “Put your hands in my jammies. … Put one or two hands in there.”

Alba, who rose to fame as a genetically enhanced vigilante on TV’s Dark Angel, kicked off the evening with a lame skit about her stardom. “Before I begin,” she led in, “I just want to address the rumor that I am the most-searched woman on the Internet.” Which leads to an overwhelming question: When did everybody—lad mags, women’s books, your dad, your nephew—decide that Jessica Alba is really, really hot? It must have something to do with her multiethnic looks, which, as others have suggested about Vin Diesel, allow the ogler to project a wide array of racial fantasies onto her. Or maybe the nation harbors very many suckers for genial women with wet smiles and diligent personal trainers. There are few other explanations; she has no hips and less personality, and her recent work has required her to do little other than gyrate earnestly (Honey), fit into a bikini (Into the Blue), and be game enough to utter the sentence, “The synthetics act as a second skin, adapting to your body’s individual needs” (Fantastic Four). Last night, she picked up the sexiest performance award for wearing chaps in Sin City. She looked ill at ease during the acceptance speech, darting her head around as if in search of a teleprompter or a guide dog. “God bless,” she finally wrapped up. “Practice safe sex, and drive a hybrid if you can.”

This is what we want from a sex icon? Blankness? Sporty docility? Alba’s only good moment was a great one, a taped parody of King Kong where, playing a version of the Ann Darrow figure, she tried to sell some oceanfront property to the big ape. “I am the negligee-wearing realtor. Whatever sells cliffs, right?” She was woozy, dizzy, ditzy, perfect. Alba may have a genius for screwball, and it would be a shame if she never made down from the frat-house wall.