Friday, February 20, 2009

Toning Down The Oscars

I was just watching FOX News and saw a somewhat snarky story on how the Oscar broadcast and celebrations are going to be toned down this year because the organizers think that some of the past traditions might not be appropriate given the economic downturn the country has experienced. Now I know that FOX is just broadcasting this story to try to make "liberal Hollywood" look bad but I have to say that I agree with the basic sentiment this time.

Full disclosure: I can't stand awards shows and I never watch them of my own volition. I think that they are self-important egofests thrown by beautiful people who have much more money than most people ever will and are treated like royalty where ever they go. Plus I figure that if anything of note happens I can always catch it online. I made Oscar picks in the first weeks of this blog last year but have decided against it this time and instead will link to Nate Silver's predictions for New York magazine. This guy nailed almost every race in the last election with his statistical analysis and I have more confidence in his numbers than I do my own poorly educated guesses about films I haven't seen.

But what really made me shake my head was when the cute little Hollywood reporter started listing off the ways in which the spectacle will be toned down. A designer who usually displays a different pair of million dollar shoes each year has decided against it this time around. Jewelers are still lending out millions of dollars in jewelry but apparently the stars won't be tossing off the price tags to reporters and expensive colored stones will be favored in lieu of diamonds. And best of all: the famous Governor's Ball afterparty will be cutting back on the number of courses they serve.

Really? This is how Hollywood is going to show the nation that they identify with the rest of America? "Yeah, we'll still be wearing obscenely expensive clothes but no more seven figure shoes: that's a little too ostentatious. And yes, we'll still cover ourselves in precious stones but not too many and not too precious. Gotta play down the excess. And of course we'll be fazing out the sorbet between the antipasto and the fish course because this is serious and people are hungry out there." Two seconds of searching led me to Wolfgang Puck's supposedly scaled-back menu for this thing. Do you know how few Americans will ever be able to afford Kobe beef, black truffles, Maine lobster and caviar? And this is the toned down version of last year's blowout.

I don't mean to sound like a populist asshole here but if you want to do something meaningful cancel the lavish afterparty and donate the money saved to an inner city food bank or something else substantial like that, but please just stop insulting us with this symbolic, "feel your pain" p.r. bullshit while you celebrate your own accomplishments and greatness and the rest of us just watch. Enjoy the Academy Awards this weekend everybody!


Intrepid Californio said...

I guess we could boycott the movies and stop purchasing dvds and in turn donate the money that we save to feed the homeless ourselves. We are the reason those people are so rich. That's right I said "those people". I agree that the pr stunt is pathetic but I don't eve think that they should tone it down;really. They are rich anyway you cut it. We made them rich we cant expect them not to live it up. Furthermore, Hollywood has a pretty giving hand. I am willing to bet that a lot of A-listers donate big money to philanthropic organizations. But you know that if the did show off the 7 figure shoes, some would piss and moan. And rightly so. I'm just saying that what does everyone expect?

JBW said...

Of course I expect excess from them IC and I don't begrudge them their wealth. They're free to throw as grand a party as they want. I'm just saying that if you're going to tone the celebration down to make it appropriate for these tough times, actually do something substantial. I find it insulting that they're going from "extraordinary excess" to "tremendous excess" and treating it like it's some big sacrifice, that's all.