What do People Get out of the Oscars?

The 93rd Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, happened last night. I didn’t know the Oscars were happening until I was flipping around trying to find sports to watch and noticed a huge block of time set aside on ABC. In fact, I never really care about the Oscars. The last time I can remember watching was when Leonardo DiCaprio finally won Best Actor for The Revenant, a movie I had absolutely no interest in seeing because I hate gore and open wounds and had heard there was gore and wounds aplenty in the film.

But I digress. I saw that Frances McDormand won Best Actress, and I think she might be the most underappreciated great actress ever. Fargo. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mississippi. Almost Famous. Raising Arizona. Mississippi Burning. Primal Fear. North Country. And those are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head, pre-coffee. They’re all great, and in fact she won Best Actress for Fargo and Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Mississippi. Incredible. She’s so good.

Anyway, I can appreciate Frances McDormand. I can appreciate Anthony Hopkins. I can appreciate an awful lot about the film industry and the films themselves. But I don’t get awards shows. I don’t understand them.

My Own Experience

When you’re young, you think awards shows are these big, fancy things. And they are, kinda. The ones like the Oscars or the Grammys or the Emmys are big and fancy. But deep down, they’re no different than award shows to be attended at every school in every school district in the country. My sister and I were both pretty bright and participated in a lot of athletics, so we had a lot of awards shows to go to growing up.

The less formal ones were just in a back room at CiCi’s Pizza, where your YMCA coach would give you a small pedestal with a gold-painted plastic baseball glove, basketball hoop, volleyball net, etc. on it. The school sanctioned ones were generally at the school, with catered food, guest speakers, and slightly larger pedestals with slightly larger gold-painted plastic sports equipment on them. The academic ones normally gave out medals or ribbons instead of trophies.

But the thing they all had in common is how long and boring they were. At some point, I would resign myself to the fact that I would be sitting with my Chinet plate of cold fajitas for a couple hours while people were recognized for their various achievements. And here’s the thing: other than my own stuff, I can’t name anything about any of those awards shows. I don’t remember who was there, what I wore, what exactly I won (though normally honor roll and attendance were in play), or even who I was with. So why would anyone want to watch that if they weren’t even in contention for an award?

The Oscars, et al.

Which brings me back to the Oscars. I don’t get it. I almost get the music award shows because normally bands will perform in the frequent periods that would otherwise be downtime. But even then, it’s some poppy, corporate crap that seems pretty pro-establishment even for the already bubblegum-type bands. I mean, the people who participate in the awards shows probably aren’t having a great time. They get there super early, sit through a bunch of nonsense, maybe win an award, and get gift bags worth $50,000 while they stand up there and lecture me on how money should be spent. But then they get to go to afterparties hosted by famous people in expansive spaces and get #WhiteGirlWasted in a $15,000 Vera Wang getup.

And there are people who get way, way into awards shows, especially the Oscars. People through Oscars-watching parties, people live tweet the Oscars, people go on and on and on and on about how so-and-so looked or how what’s-his-name looked pissed off after he lost out to that other guy for best supporting actor. I just don’t understand it. It’s fine, though. I’m not really judging people that get into it because it’s harmless, and there are a lot of folks out there who don’t understand how people like me can watch golf on television and be glued to the edge of my seat.

I just don’t understand what people get out of it. Is it just the social aspect of throwing a party and having everyone over for hors d’oeuvres and wine on a Sunday evening? Or is it some high school drama club washout who swears their performance as Willie Loman would have made Arthur Miller rise from the dead had he been able to see it just watching the Oscars to criticize the picks of the esteemed Academy? Or is it a collection of degenerate gamblers who flew to Vegas or AC to put a fifty spot on Hugh Jass, who was running 35:1 for Best Supporting Key Grip in a Foreign Film Animated in the Southern Hemisphere? I just don’t get it. I don’t see the return on the investment of time in watching it.

But either way, congratulations to everyone and everything that won, and condolences and you’ll-get-’em-next-time to those who came up short. The important takeaways are that awards shows are boing and Frances McDormand is a treasure.

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