Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Sunday

Here we go again...

                              Hollywoods best party? *

The skies are dark and gloomy over Hollywood today, with rain predicted on this most high of holy days here in Tinseltown. The Academy won't be happy to have rain fall on their Oscar parade, but the Gods of Weather can pull rank on the Gods of Hollywood whenever they feel like it -- so today it'll be rain.  

I've had my say on the annual Oscar bacchanal in the past (here, among other Oscar posts, should you be interested), and see no reason to repeat those dyspeptic rants. I'm not a fan of award shows, and although the Grammies are by far the worst offender -- year in and year out presenting three-plus hours of utterly inconsequential, occasionally fraudulent, and consistently unwatchable garbage -- the Emmys run a close second, with Oscar sniffing at their heels.

Which means that although the Oscars may be the least-bad of all three, the bar for such self-congratulatory award shows has been set very low indeed.

In an industry town like LA, the build-up to the Oscars is much like the suffocating layers of smog that once stung our eyes and poisoned our lungs while blocking out the blue summer sky -- all-encompassing, unavoidable, and incredibly irritating.**  The LA Times fawns all over Oscar for months in advance with special weekly sections called "The Envelope," featuring endlessly repetitive articles about and interviews with those nominated, while the local TV stations breathlessly report every last stupid rumor regarding anything with the most tenuous connection to the Oscar broadcast. Then there's the Hollywood Reporter, which obsesses over every stray crumb of Oscar "news" as if the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Oscars are nothing more than a bloated exercise in onanistic narcissim, which puts them right in tune with our selfie-crazed, reality-TV-loving, look-at-meeeee modern culture. That smoke you smell? No worries -- it's just the New Rome burning. May as well get out the graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows and enjoy the fire.

As usual, I've seen none of the nominated films and thus have no cinematic dogs in this fight. To those vociferously defending "Boyhood," "Birdman," "The Imitation Game," "American Sniper," "Grand Budapest Hotel," "Selma," "Theory of Everything," and "Whiplash" (seriously? -- a movie about a drummer??) as the best movie of 2014, I wish you all the best of luck… but pardon my yawn. It's different if you're in the business and/or actually worked on any of these movies -- or are one of the many people connected with the cast or crew -- and in that case I totally understand why you'll be riveted to the Oscar broadcast: as the Industry's most prestigious honor, it's a big deal. But why anybody in the general public would care which movie or actor wins a golden statue baffles me.

Then again, I'm easily baffled these days, so don't let this post rain on your parade. If you love the Oscars, more power to you -- tune in and enjoy the show.

Me, I'll be watching the "Walking Dead."

* Seems to me that this joke/art-piece statue would have been more appropriate back in the cocaine-fueled 80's, but apparently there's much about modern Hollywood I don't know…

** Although we still have some of the worst air in the country, legislation and technology cleared LA's skies to an extent that seemed impossible when I first rolled into town back in the late 70's.  But nothing, it seems, can save us from Oscar's toxic emissions. 


Anonymous said...

extremely well written my friend.. especially if you ever picked up a gig working behind the scenes on any of the award shows.. ITS HORRIBLE.. to use the word phony is just too simple a word.. after working just one award show is nauseating enough to refuse work on any future awards show. k

Anonymous said...

It's my industry. I'll likely never be invited to the party, but I watch all the same. Most of the films nominated are pretty damn good. One that's at the TOP of the pretty horrible actually. But I'm a cantankerous, opinionated bastard so, there it is. i've watched ever year, despite the occasional nausea, since the seventies. i an a beast of tradition. SS

Michael Taylor said...

Anonymous K --

I've never worked an awards show, but watching them is bad enough -- and from what I hear about last night's broadcast, I didn't miss anything.

Thanks for the kind words, and for tuning in…

Anonymous SS --

I hear you. It's my industry too, and once upon a time I used to watch the Oscars regularly -- and if you click the "here" link in the post, you'll learn about my own oblique brush with the little golden man.

Very oblique, needless to say...

But that was then and this is now, and I'm weary of all the air-kissing BS in the Oscars. Still, that's just me -- I completely understand why industry people watch, as I once did, and I admire your fortitude in upholding the tradition.

It's just not for me, that's all.

Thanks for tuning in...

Phillip Jackson said...

That movie about a drummer isn't really just about drumming but what it means to try and be more than good at something. I was surprised at how much I liked it. But yeah the showiness of all of this is a bit hard to take in at times. I missed most of the broadcast this year because I was on set. Wasn't too broken up about it.