Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Musings

So I'm watching the Oscars for some reason.
I'm really not sure why.  I care about the Academy Awards about half a smidgen more than I do about the Super Bowl (which is the only bigger television event of the year.) Seventeen minutes of football and three and a half interminable hours of self-congratulatory tedium, and these are the most popular events on television every year? And people wonder why I hardly watch television?

I've seen exactly one of the movies nominated for Best Picture,  one of the nominated performances in the Best Actor and Best Actress category, and blah blah blah need I go further?
Okay, actually the only real reason I've tuned in is Neil Patrick Harris. I've watched some of his work hosting the Tonys and I'm pretty sure he's going to knock this out of the park. And be invited back.
But as for the movies...don't care.
And I especially don't care about the "red carpet" and the question "who are you wearing?"

I suppose I should be glad to see #askhermore trending on Twitter. That's the latest hashtag  somebody dreamed up to make us think we care.  In this case we "care" about women and how they're never asked anything of substance on the red carpet. That's only a reflection of how few women are celebrated when Oscar time rolls around: only one woman has ever won Best Director, for instance. If they didn't segregate Best Actress and only gave a Best Actor Oscar, you'd see this sexism writ large year after year. Oh, who am I kidding: sexism is writ large, everywhere, and we, by which I mean males, are almost entirely blind to it.

Uck. Clothing. It's bad enough that people obsess over the meaningless outer layer of a person; it's even worse, somehow, that we concoct a whole new, even more meaningless outer layer to obsess over. And it's always women. When's the last time you heard a man asked "who are you wearing"?

Let's review here: we have Hollywood, a world where everything is illusion and persona and performance, where actresses are praised not for how real they are, but for how well-faked they appear. Once a year, these actresses gather to be adored and gifted with gilt. The statues used to be gold-plated solid bronze...only one level of fakery there...and now they're gold-plated tin alloy: a fake of a fake.
But these are REAL women, and we have the opportunity to interact with them and gain some insight into who they are and how they think. Instead we ask them what they're wearing. Or who they're wearing, because we don't even care about that totally meaningless, manufactured outer layer, only who manufactured it. Probably a man.

But hey, there's that Twitter hashtag, which means somebody noticed this year. Noticed enough to type a few characters, anyway. And it's trending, so lots more people care enough to type the same characters. Wow. It's so moving. It's a force for change, I tell you. Because #bringbackourgirls worked so well, and #icantbreathe did too.

You'll pardon my cynicism, I hope. What bothers me most about this whole fiasco is that it doesn't seem to bother other people at all. Even women. Au contraire, they are glued to their televisions tonight, more so than on any night of the year, lapping this vile concoction up and purring like kittens. Why do they not only put up with it, but seem to relish it?

I don't understand. I don't understand!

It's hard to square this sickening spectacle against the real spectacle of what  "moving pictures" can be. Movies can be special. Next to books, there's nothing that can put you into someone's head half so well as film. Indeed, for some people, film works even better than books at this crucial, absolutely critical task. The more heads you can get in, the better you can (hopefully) understand what it is to be human and the better a human you can be.

Sadly, that's not what Hollywood is about, most often, which is why there's a disconnect between the box office and the Academy. Five of the nominees for Best Picture this year together grossed less than a quarter of what Fifty Shades of Rape (speaking of the total and utter repudiation of feminism) made in its opening weekend.

There's a lot of cursing and wringing of hands each and every year about how the Academy Awards are turning into the Independent Spirit Awards. There was a transparently hokey attempt  to change this a few years back by doubling the number of nominees for Best Picture: all this did was lump a bunch more people into saying it's an honour just to be nominated.

I say: let this trend continue. The Prequel to the Sequel to the Reboot of the Remake, Part III is not deserving of anything.  By its very existence, it's a stain on an industry that's SUPPOSED to be about creativity and imagination. I will make a point of watching this year's Academy Award winner for Best Picture, assuming it isn't The Imitation Game which I have already seen).  It's a fair assumption: everything I read as research for this blog suggested that most of the major awards were "locks"...which is sad and speaks to political agendas I know nothing about and care less than nothing. Even I, an innocent bystander to most things Oscar, know the drill: Meryl Streep will be nominated but won't win; the Academy will have to make sure to duly award the biopic about somebody Hollywood will venerate for a night and promptly forget (probably a black somebody...yep, there's Selma. Somebody will interrupt their thank you speech to make a political point that will be extremely well received (Patricia Arquette, take a bow).   There will be a movie nominated for Best Picture that won't stand a chance of winning (I'll eat an Enigma machine if The Imitation Game actually wins...great movie, but it didn't tick enough of the Academy's boxes). And so on and so forth: I'm sure you have your own predictions, and I'm sure they're right.

Can we transcend political agendas? Can we transcend our differences and celebrate a medium that is supposed to unite us? Can we, above all, transcend the fake and keep it real?


Anonymous said...

I will never understand the fascination with Celebrity Culture. Award Shows, Magazines (People, Star), TV Shows (E Now, ET) and blogs all devoted to it just leave me completely puzzled. But the whole social interplay feeds each other, the whole machine is about gossip, appearances and scandal. That's what the fans want.

I don't get it, but it's there regardless.

Ken Breadner said...

I've said this before, Catelli, but...are you me? You're me, right? I'm you? This is all so confusing.