Ask Adam League

Who’s Watching the Oscars?

The Oscars. Tonight, February 27th 2011, the “world” will be watching as stars approach to receive their accolades and awards for their fantastic performances. The stars and actors of the classic films of last year will be in attendance to applaud the achievements of their “peers”. A self propelled train wreck of what is wrong with our immediate lives on display for all to see. I will not be watching.

I haven’t ever given two thoughts about the Oscars. The more I think about it, the less I care. The Academy Awards, as the institution calls it, aren’t something which affects my life in any tangible way. This isn’t to imply or state that I do not enjoy movies. I have enjoyed a consider list of well known and little known movies. I can experience a movie or film from both a personal level and a well perceived critical level. I can enjoy a movie from the aspect of its direct relation to the events of my life. I can also enjoy a film based on its technical merits in editing or direction, the actor or actresses ability to pull me into their plight, or even lighting and set dressing. And yet, something never dug into me about the Academy Awards.

I realized over time that people somehow were crazed about this phenomenon. I would go into work at times to hear people talking about some event that people had observed on the Oscars. Perhaps an acceptance speech was too robust. Maybe the opening act wasn’t up to par. Or maybe the host was a little too flamoyant. And while I never knew specifically what they were talking about, I felt this talk was familiar to me. I couldn’t quite place this feeling.

I couldn’t place this feeling until one day someone was talking about a reality show. I realized the same reactions were given by the same people about reality TV shows. Now granted, there were people in both camps which did not cross over, but the way they expressed and how they seemed to care about an event which made no difference in their lives seemed not only similar, but from the same place. This drama of detail in lives which are not there own.

This was not the only reason I didn’t like the awards. It was also the thought behind it. I had this feeling it was self serving. A hubris driven song and dance hidden in penguin suits and sequin dresses. It felt emulatory of such fantastic stars such as Sean Penn and Martin Sheen, individuals who are happy to tell us what we are doing wrong in our lives even though their own histories with family, drugs, and bat-shit crazy are the fuel stuff aspiring writers wish they could place in their screenplays. The facade of the show didn’t sit well with me and made much more sense when I found out why.

Learning about the awards show in a Cinema class, I had learned it’s history which I will not get into detail here. The small version was a group of executives and other important members of the industry in the year 1926 settled on the idea that in the next year, 1927, they would host a luncheon and announce plans for persons in their industry. It wasn’t until 1929 where they announced “winners”  from 1927 and ’28 to the public.  Mind you, this would be radio played and its concept was to bring more eyes on into theaters while keeping the “little people” happy.

The design of “Oscar” himself is a deliberate attempt to instill a point of excessive pride. Oscar was designed to be standing atop a roll of film, this is obvious. But Oscar also holds a sword in his hand. This was designed to make Oscar look “knightly”. Knightly? This was in an era when being Knighted was something of an honor, a cut above. To be Knighted you were meant to have a noble form, a principle above all others. As most of us know this is not true, but it is perceived. Once again, the perception of the world around us misleads our sensibilities. Recipients in essence are given a noble and knightly perception and are elevated in our minds to be adored. Definitely meant to keep the workers happy with what they have and keep audiences adoring.

 While many out there might question motivation, simply look to the events of these years and the exceptionally harsh conditions endured by the crews on sets. Treated like second class citizens, the idea was designed to keep the masses comfortable enough while still being able to make the large amounts of money in an era where the Depression was just about to begin. Corruption and manipulation was the name of the game and the creation of the show was no exception.

To be fair, the nominations for those up for an award are chosen by their peers. In this regard, I think the Academy Awards have some merit. In any field, it is always nice to hear that you are thought of by your peers. I somehow doubt, however, that it works that way. Looking at the system by which nominees and recipients are chosen (do a search, it’s a crazy elaborate process) it appears that the Awards show is much more a networking system. The system is not a simple one and is indeed designed to be confusing at best. My favorite part, however, is who counts the ballots.

Accountants. It is accountants who count the ballots for nominees. It is the accountants who know the list of nominees and who the ultimate winners are. Now, an argument could be made for why this is. If it was an actor, director, or a standard person off the street, then these bits of information might not be so secure. Well, this logic only works because all of those persons wouldn’t have a vested interest in securing the nominations. Going back to the beginning again, it was the studio heads and other important persons who gathered the masses (originally only 250 members by the way) to award “selected” individuals. Having an accountant have the power over this system is a testament to how important this event is to the longevity of the industry itself.

Then there is the participation of the “show” that the accountant has to be included in. In a deliberately overly dramatic emulatory way, the accountants have a ridiculous process by which they have to take the ballots to the awards show. It involves taking different routes, black suit cases, memorization of all winners prior to the show, and having to stand around through the duration of the show “just in case” the wrong name is mentioned (which is odd, since they placed the names in the envelopes with the other accountans). I’m almost certain this process is more elaborate than the President obtaining the “football”.

In the end, all of this is simply a means to keep the masses interested in what they do. The millions of dollars a year isn’t enough to do the job. It requires a night which cross pollinates their industry of fifty foot theater screens with the smaller screens of your living room to insert the understanding of a culture in hopes you’ll continue to support them.

What is important is that people are entertained. I am not concerned with this form of entertainment, but others are. I understand the want to deviate the tedium of ones life with something which momentarily takes you away to a new place. A mentality similar to watching Survivor, American Idol, or any of the other dramas which pretend to be reality. My issue here is that it’s one that doesn’t benefit you or I. Imagine what could be accomplished if persons spent HALF the attention they spend on this sham on something which made their neighbors lives happy, or even their own children and family.  Watching a group of liars (deliberately chosen because actors portray people they are not) do that which they do best when in the presence of their peers doesn’t do much for the majority of the public…American public at that.

I do not believe this is a solely American mentality, but most definitely believe that it is only Americans who will care about the events of the Academy Awards. I am quite curious as to what events non-Americans will be interested in when not presented with a long winded pat on the back . I’ll guess scandal television takes a different form in those countries.

I will continue to not care about which movies I wasn’t interested in to begin with win what rewards, but understand the sales and rentals of such movies increases dramatically when nominated or announced as a winner.  I will absolutely crack a small smile every year when I hear about the Oscars a day before they occur and realize I almost dodged a bullet by not having to hear the rants on why someone should or should not have won, believing it to be a traditionally democratic process. Even as I write this, random entities on Facebook cannot help but present their personal points of pride that they saw some particular amount of the nominees and try and play the role of an accountant and insert their own pick into an envelope. I will continue to not care about this inasmuch as I do not care about when a doped up actor leaves rehab for the seventh time or kills themselves in a hotel room. I will continue to live my life in realizing that the job of an actor is an easy one. You pretend to be something you are not. With any job, the better you are at it, the more people are likely to come to you for this job. As with any job, the system is rigged at times. I will continue to just not care what a group of individuals thought about some movie based off a topic which does not affect my life or that I’ve had deeper thoughts about while sitting on the can. I just cannot care about lives which are larger than their own capacity in a world brought about by excess and arrogance.

But the day that Clint Eastwood dies…I will bow my head in silence… and post about it on the Internets from wifi connection on my laptop. Be certain of this.

-The Adam

4 Responses to Who’s Watching the Oscars?

  1. glowstrz 2011.02.27 11:44 pm

    OK Adam, wow, what a slam! I read the entire post and realized that your point comes down to this sentence, “My issue here is that it’s one that doesn’t benefit you or I.”

    “It’s” being the Oscars. But basically you are just knocking one industry instead of knocking TV and all the nonsense on it. Why pick on the Oscars?

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    1. The Adam 2011.03.02 9:17 pm

      I’ll be honest glowstrz, I wasn’t feeling the post. This is not an excuse, but an expression for why it blew a sweaty sack. I did find humor in being long winded enough to get one phrase out.
      I do believe that in the end I do not like many of the awards shows. At least with something like the SAG awards, it is clear cut who the audience is and who it affects. It wasn’t until recent years where people gave two sacks about the SAG awards.
      I think I have never enjoyed something that is a facade and a show when it is clear it’s not simply for a purpose to entertain me. I believe anything that exists should be conscious and aware of it’s place in society and anyone with an inflated ego causes a reflex in me that almost hurts. I get the same reaction to a coworker who might believe “HE” is better suited for management than the person who currently sits in the position. It is up to me (and the public at large) to determine your importance.
      My issue is that this level of importance is self inflated, which the public seems to then buy. The economy of this sickens me regardless of whether it is music, movies, television, or a bunch of dicks in a conference room arguing over who sold the most policies. At the end of the day, deep down, you have to know your worth and act accordly. Sounds judgemental, and it absolutely is. But the judgement needs to come from within first before it can be an outward one.

      I hope I didn’t lose you. I’m currently recording the show with Mr. Don so tell me what you think of the rant. Ha.
      -The Adam

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  2. Don The Producer 2011.02.28 12:21 am

    The Oscars continued to be a hot mess in it’s presentation. The set and multi-media was wonderful as usual, but the jokes more corny (or mystifying) than usual. I still enjoy myself when watching the Oscars though. Maybe it’s because we’re throwing down bets on who will win and better yet how I won when The King’s Speech won best picture.

    What’s cool about the Academy Awards though is that I am able to see actors and filmmakers get recognition for some films that I really respect and learn about other movies that I would never have heard of before.

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