This year’s Oscars was the nail in the coffin for me. I’ve been swearing to stop watching them for ages (I’ve never missed a one since I was a wee tyke). But each year the ceremony depresses me more and more. Seth MacFarlane and company was the final straw. And I actually like THE FAMILY GUY. I can do grossly inappropriate humor. In the proper context. The Oscars is not that context. MacFarlane brought a smug artificiality to the proceedings that, in an odd way, actually managed to highlight so much of what I do not like about the Oscars. There is a gross insincerity about the whole affair. It reeks of desperation, of panic, always on the edge of total collapse, like a star imploding in on itself. You can feel each and every producer vigorously second-guessing what the audience wants. Now granted, I may not be the typical Oscar audience despite my life-long commitment to them. I actually want it to be a celebration of cinema. I actually want it to be about the human beings, the creative individuals responsible for breathing life into these works. But that is not what the Oscars is and, each year, it is rarely more than a painful reminder for me of that heartbreaking reality.
Beyond MacFarlane’s nastiness (which also represents much of Hollywood for me) and that conceited grin I wanted to punch (did anybody else want to knock those teeth right out of his mouth?!), the Oscars simply do not represent what film and cinema is to me. In fact, it represents more of what I don’t like about contemporary Hollywood and exacerbates those elements that I feel keep film from being taken seriously as anything more than distracting entertainment. I’m sorry, when bloated openings and pointless dance numbers (for films not even from this year), or montages my nephew could have done better in iMovie (007) take the place of 30 more seconds so that a real human being can have his or her moment to say thank you… You know something’s wrong. It’s what Hollywood has become: character is not important, human beings, honest emotions, depth, insight, real experiences… None of these things matter. But big, pompous spectacles with flashing lights and loud sounds… Now THAT’S Hollywood. And for me, watching that train wreck each year is an incredibly painful experience.
In this new technological age, I can go to Youtube for future broadcasts and see the acceptance speeches that interest me (the parts that don’t get cut off by a self-mocking JAWS theme, as if that somehow made it humorous and not just plain insulting). I can watch Shirley Bassey and Adele, I can watch the In-Memorium and Barbra Streisand. I can see Daniel-Day Lewis’ and Ben Affleck’s humble speeches and the lessons they contains for those of us struggling to realize our dreams here in this very odd town. Yes, there are reminders at the Oscars of the good things –what isn’t rotten in the state of Hollywood– and those brief moments when daring and artistic films are recognized. I’ll watch those in chosen clips and consciously eliminate all the nastiness that surrounds it. I don’t need to invite any more negativity or insulting belittling of my favorite art form into my own home.
So next year I’ll do something nice for myself on that night. Like go see a really good film in a really nice movie theater.
Even if I’m the only one there.