Bah Humbug Hollywood
by Kiersten Hallie Krum
Hello, my name is Kiersten and I am an awards-show junkie. Specifically, TV and movie-related awards shows, which means the Emmys, the Golden Globes (my favorite because everyone’s drunk and anything can–and does–happen), and the mothership of awards shows: The Oscars. I’ve been know to scan the SAG awards, run the Tonys in the background while I work online, drop in on the BAFTAs, and record the American Country Music Awards, the CMAs, and the Grammys because I don’t get out to live concerts as much as I’d like to and day-am but there are some great music performances happening at those awards shows.
Years ago, I’d spend the first hour or so of the Monday morning after back-seat quarterbacking the Oscars with my boss–the fashions, the winners, the losers, the oh-my-giddy-aunt moments–before starting our work day. I’ve written detailed play by play, after-action blogs and, with the advent of social media, a moment-by-moment tweet stream of real-time reactions. As I write this on Sunday afternoon, I can’t guarantee I won’t do the same tonight for the Oscars telecast because the draw is still so strong even though lately, well, lately we’ve been taking a break.
I find myself less engaged in the flotsam and jetsam of awards seasons. I haven’t been able to figure out when and why my love has faltered. I mean, I’m the woman who’s had her Oscar acceptance speech written since she was 14. One year, back when the Oscars were still in March and pre-social media craze when the Internet was still mostly dial-up, I was in Italy during the Oscars and the first thing I did when I woke up the morning after was seek out a winners list. So what the what now?
It’s stopped being fun.
Sunday night, ABC ran Oscar red-carpet coverage starting at 4 o’clock in the afternoon ET. Why?! That’s 1 PM on the West Coast. Nobody’s on the red carpet at 1 PM! Except possibly publicists. Or rather, the publicists’ assistants.
The insipid patter of pundits “covering” the red carpet gets more and more ludicrous each year. The “mani-cam” is quite possibly the awards show version of jumping the shark. For those of you wondering, the “mani-cam” is a small camera in a box into which celebrities put their hands to show off their manicures as though Ryan Seacrest is a Bene Gesserit and the “mani-cam” his pain box. And then there’s the cost, the sheer gluttony of “gifts” given to people who not only can afford it themselves but very much do not need more. The gift bags at the 2015 Oscars are reportedly worth $160,000. A country in recovery. An on-going healthcare crisis. A weather crisis that has Boston and surrounding areas facing disaster-like conditions in its economics and infrastructure. The rising cost of food. And the gift bags at the Academy Awards are worth $160,000. That’s downright obscene.
It’s like live-tweeting. I love live tweeting shows and movies. In fact, a good chunk of my first real flush of Twitter followers came about via live-tweeting. Then actors who were Twitter fiends started live-tweeting their shows. It was organic and special and helluva lot of fun, like a reward for those fans canny enough to be aware it was happening. It also started driving live-viewing numbers for those shows as fans had to be watching the show to get in on the live-tweet fun rather than wait to watch it on DVRs. Other shows took notice and now, it’s become an arranged marketing strategy where various show’s casts are wrangled together to live tweet. With the right group, it can still be fun. Nashville and Banshee, for example, are two shows whose casts consistently live tweet together and it still feels organic. Last season, the social media manager for Nashville would occasionally arrange a for the cast to ride together on a luxury bus through Nashville while live-tweeting the new Nashville episode. Then they’d drop in at bars and other locales sometimes featured in the show. Perfect meta is perfect. Other than the few exceptions, it’s somehow become less special as it’s become more…deliberate. More contrived.
Which brings me back to awards shows. Let’s be honest, it’s always been contrived, but it used to be fun too. Billy Crystal who never took himself too seriously and made sure no one else did either. Jack Palance doing push ups. Sean Penn’s boycotts. Cher’s whackadoo outfits. But now it’s lost its mystique. Everyone is so, well, corporate. The same names, the same faces. Even Meryl Streep is getting sick of Meryl Streep being nominated. When Hugh Jackman hosted (I’m a big, long-term fan of that man), I watched for his opening song and dance routine and boy howdy did he deliver. But his last time out, the mid-telecast big show number with Beyoncé was just more evidence of the problem (her husband was the executive producer of the telecast and it showed as she was everywhere all night.) (Not that Beyoncé needs her husband to get her a gig on the Oscars, which is kinda the rest of my point.) (But that’s another post.)
Overall, there’s less to believe in. Bon mots of the moment are often turned around to a gaffe by the end of the next news cycle. There’s more importance place on what trended than what was actually said.
I also don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m largely unmoved by many of the nominees this year, mostly because I hardly ever get out to the movies anymore where once I was hitting two or three a month. The high cost of tickets coupled with the aggravating crowds and other issues have made the movie-going experience much less entertaining overall. And with the quality of TV getting better and better every season so that many of the stars you once could only see in movies now do double-duty on television, there’s less need to (heh) buy in to the movie theater angst to see good performances.
I still love movies and TV. Still love live-tweeting, Still love visual storytelling. When it comes to awards shows, I remain awed by the jewels and the dresses and the precise wax jobs and the sheer nerve it takes to wear some of the more extreme ensembles. And yes, I’m still hooked, still watching to see what Neil Patrick Harris brings for his opening salvo, still wanting to know what happens, but I’m far less engaged with every passing year. Where once I watched with the inspired glee of the acolyte, now I view with the measured disappointment of the disillusioned. Bah Humbug Hollywood.
Do you jones on award show season every year? Or has the bloom long departed this waxed and buffed rose?
Follow Lady Smut. We’ve got your shiny gold statue right here.