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“Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman. It is something I only get to do when Billy Crystal is out of town.”
During my first semester as a student at Utah State University I was asked to present a lecture to my theatre class on any subject of my choosing. My choice was to discuss the Academy Awards, which are more commonly known by the eponymous nickname of the Oscars.
Specifically, my lecture was on how Academy voters have chosen winners for its annual awards based on the politics and mood of the American people during the era in which they lived. I will not present that argument at this time. Perhaps in a future column I will type out my oral arguments from that assignment. I think you might find my thesis compelling.
It was an easy subject for me to delve into. I have had a strange obsession with the Oscars most of my life. This is probably due to the Oscars being in the realm of two of my addictions: movies and lists. I have been known to appease my anal retentiveness by scouring the lists of past Oscar nominees just for the heck of it. Is that weird?
The Oscars have become a favorite hobby for the analytics community. Math nerds who want to be George Clooney—but look more like Paul Giamatti—now produce algorithms to state emphatically who will win.
And, of course, there are Oscar pools. Is there any event that is exempt from Americans’ need to turn them into a sport for drinking and gambling? I used to do very well in Oscar pools. Easy money for me back in the day. In recent years, I challenged local Cache Valley film critics Aaron Peck and Andy Morgan to an Oscar pool. I did not fare so well. In many places you would have to pay a pro-dominatrix $500 an hour for the brutal spanking they inflicted on me.
I love watching the red carpet arrivals of movie stars to the Oscars. The E! Network devotes the entire day of the ceremony to what the attendees will wear. One time, when I was hosting Quizzo at the White Owl, I got in an argument over a dress Nicole Kidman wore at that year’s Oscars. I thought her shoulder strap was there to hold a Starbucks coffee cup. The women at that Quizzo did not like that catty comment. I was the target of dirty looks for many Quizzos that spring.
At its core, the Oscars are the definition of vanity, self-absorption and irrelevancy. And that is why I love them.
Here comes the conundrum. This year, I just am not enthused for the Oscars. The ceremony is this Sunday night, and I really do not care if I watch. I do not know if I will watch the red carpet shows to make viciously profane comments about who is wearing what. I might hang out with friends on Sunday afternoon and avoid the whole thing. This is doubly odd given that for the first time in recent years, many of the top categories do not have a front runner.
Leonardo DiCaprio will win Best Actor for his role in “The Revenant”. Brie Larson will win Best Actress for her performance in the highly disturbing film “Room”.
(COLUMNIST NOTE: I recently saw a television trailer that tries to sell “Room” as a happy-go-lucky, family friendly film about a boy and his mother. This is obscenely irresponsible and misleading. There are very serious and shocking themes in this film. Do not go see this movie if you want light entertainment. Like or hate the film, it is not for those easily upset with issues regarding abuse.)
The two supporting acting categories and the award for Best Picture have no overwhelming favorite. For once, I can watch the ceremony and be genuinely surprised when some of the winners are announced. Still, my curiosity is noticeably dormant this year.
Some of this is due to my current frame of mind towards the world around me. In recent years, I have stopped participating in fantasy sports leagues and betting pools. I have shed the awful, time-sucking, cancerous yoke of social media from my life. I have tried—not always successfully—to cease obsessing over things and people that have no positive impact, beyond being entertaining, to my always restless brain.
The other problem I have with the Oscars is the complaints about the “lack of diversity” at this year’s Oscars. Because the 20 nominees in the four acting categories are all white–the same was the case last year—many have decided that the Oscars are a symbol of the problem minorities face in Hollywood.
I refuse to watch an absurd awards show only to receive a sermon; not from a group of people who are politically liberal. Hollywood, and most notably, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is made of a predominantly liberal body and electorate. They greenlight the films, cast them, and distribute them. If there truly is a lack of diversity in movies that receive Oscar nominations, it is because Liberal Hollywood, a proper noun and a redundancy, does not practice what it preaches.
Also, are not the Oscars supposed to be a blindly faithful exemplar of the theory of a meritocracy? Does not the Academy hold true that their awards are only to honor true excellence in filmmaking? Why is it that we all cannot accept that those who were nominated in a given year have white skin? That is who the Academy voters thought were the best.
I am not suggesting that the history of the film industry lacks racism. It most assuredly does not. The Academy also must take blame for much of racism that has plagued its awards ceremony in its nearly nine decades of existence. I just do not believe that every single frivolous event should be tainted with negativity based on superficial facts.
Critics of the Oscars on Twitter have fashioned the hashtag #oscarssowhite. They will watch the ceremony this Sunday for the sole purpose of bringing forth more negative bile into a world drowned in self-serving antagonism…because that is Twitter’s main mission. Twitter exists for nasty people to feed their desire to be sociopathic.
As for me, I may change my mind and watch the Oscars. A new episode of “The Walking Dead” is being shown against the ceremony. I do not like to DVR that show for any reason. I want to watch it live. I find it quite profound that the Zombie Apocalypse continues on regardless if the Oscars are on simultaneously or not. Zombies don’t care. On this matter, they might have the right attitude.