Just For Fun: The Importance of Being Oscar
The Academy Awards ceremony is that one night of the year where film actors and filmmakers get together to celebrate their craft. Well actually there are about a half a dozen other nights where they do this as well: the People's Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, not to mention all the specialized award get togethers from everyone from the cinematographers to the publicists, oh, and then there are the many major film festivals around the world, various world premiers, a multitude of personal appearances flogging the film and multi-million dollar campaigns to sell the films, and the DVDs, to the general public, and if there is enough buzz, to those who vote in these big awards ceremonies.
I actually sat through a couple of hours of the Oscars last night, for the first time in years, or maybe it was a couple of days. Time began to run together and blur after a while. The good news is eventually I was able to escape. I have to say there is something very odd about actors showing up in limos, wearing designer clothes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in loaned bling, running a gamut of interviewers for various media outlets, and acting like they are just folks. Of course, it's an act, but then they are actors. That's what the Oscars are, a performance, and not a very good one. No one stops the film editors or the makers of that short documentary for a red carpet interview. I'm not even sure they are allowed on the carpet.
At the same time I noticed that there were no awards for the billionaire producers and CEOs of the media companies behind all these films. I always find the dog that didn't bark to be the most interesting. Their near absence is explainable because the Oscars are really all about the money. Having producers play a larger role would distract from the fantasy which itself distracts from this fact. Of course, there were billionaires there. There was Donald Trump, for instance, showing once again how dangerous it is to get between him and a camera. And then there was the patronizing Oprah Winfrey repeating the Depression-era spiel about how films permit us unwashed masses "escape" in these hard times. How many years has it been since Winfrey was so hard up she needed such escape I wondered.
But again it is all an act. It had been years since I last saw an Academy Awards show. Nothing really had changed. The script was virtually the same. The acceptance speeches were all the same whether it was for best acting or the sound editor. There were a few timely political comments that penetrated the overwhelming vapidity. I guess this is supposed to give a patina of relevance to the proceedings. There is the occasional award to the Hollywood bad boy or girl, and a nod or two to journeyman actors and technicians. But for the most part it is the spectacle of a millionaire actor with ego to match accepting an award and acting humble doing so while millionaire actors who've lost try to act graceful about it but don't quite pull it off and millionaire actor presenters and hosts act like they actually care that they are even there.
To call it all pretentious is to state the obvious. Still I couldn't help noticing the big films of the night were about a king and a billionaire with the arty side represented by a psychopathic ballerina, roles we can all relate to I'm sure. So much for social relevance. Anyway it has been years, as I said, since I have seen even part of one of these programs or been to a film in a theater. I couldn't resist writing about it, but I'm thinking I haven't missed much.