The Internet is abuzz with rumors that Palo Alto native and thespian James Franco was under the influence of non-medical marijuana while hosting the Oscars on Sunday night. The mainstream press is more subdued in its assessment, with Entertainment Weekly suggesting that “Franco became more mellow” as the evening progressed. USAToday was somewhat more forthright, suggesting that Franco, “seemed to be preparing for a remake of Dazed and Confused,” while Time Magazine added that the Silicon Valley native “seemed to retreat into a haze.” It took the St. Louis Dispatch to state it clearly enough: “Franco seemed half asleep, or possibly stoned.”
Franco certainly wasn’t the only Silicon Valley story to feature in this year’s Oscars. The Best Film category was a contest between two films about innovations in communications and how they affected people. The King’s Speech was the story of a king-to-be with a stammer at the dawn of the radio era. No longer could the reigning monarch make do with looking dashing. An entire country had to hear him speak. The Social Network represented the other end of the communications spectrum—Facebook, and the ultimate transformation of communications into a corporate tool.
While Facebook may be in the process of becoming the sine qua non of modern-day interactions, the Academy seemed to wax nostalgic for much simpler times, and gave the award to The King’s Speech. In fact, of all the top awards, The Social Network won for Best (Adapted) Screenplay, but not for Best Film. Exactly 70 years earlier, another film about a dominant figure in the media industry, Citizen Kane, was snubbed for the Oscar for Best Film. The Best Film that year also went to a distinctly British story, How Green Was My Valley.