Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Academy Awards are still entertaining but they've lost a bit of their mystery and luster because the modern world has no room for outdated privileges anymore.

I (like many others in this country) watched the Academy Awards this past Sunday (for films released during the 2019 calendar year). I've heard that viewership was at a historic low, and it definitely "feels" like the Academy Awards have lost a bit of their mystery and luster...that things aren't as "reverential" as I used to see them. How does it feel exactly? It's difficult to put into words. Maybe just a little more like Dancing With the Stars than the high-brow Academy Awards of yesteryear.

In 2020 the crowd at the Oscars just seems like a bunch of people who have interesting jobs and get paid a lot as opposed to possessing some kind of "other" quality in which I used to view actors and actresses. People like Jeff Bezos are in the audience. Sure, he's the richest man in the world and owns Amazon, but I had a knee-jerk reaction (at first) that he seemed out of place. And Jeff Bezos (in my opinion) looks like a schlub (like me)...just a balding guy in a suit that started a business out of his garage in Seattle and ended up at the Oscars. That was a wake-up call. I realized how much times have changed.

There aren't any "hosts" anymore for the Oscars. People setting up businesses to deliver packages now have more money than anyone. Jane Fonda has gray hair and basically says, "F*ck it," and she gets arrested a lot. Scarlett Johannson is just the SNL Weekend Update's guy's significant other (I love her many appearances on SNL by the way). Sharon Stone is on Bumble looking for a date because she's lonely and why not? Renee Zelweger is married to an average looking guy and no one cares. Natalie Portman, Chris Evans, Regina King, and Johnny Depp are now just people who do commercials on broadcast t.v., probably to make an extra buck just like Tina Fey for that mayhem commercial. Eminem looked like he walked in from the street and doesn't even know why he's there to sing, but they welcomed him anyway and had a good time because some of his music is fun to listen to. I think this Academy Awards had to set some kind of record for the amount of "F-bombs" that got dropped and censored, because no one cares. I loved Janelle Monae celebrating her queerness. I felt represented...but yeah...things have changed. I love that people in drag now give interviews. Why not? Life is life, and Hollywood stars have knocked pedestals over and are in the mud with the rest of us. No one is above anyone else. Some of these people probably ate at McDonalds before arriving at the Red Carpet.

Then there's the rise of things like Instagram and Facebook where these celebrities post videos of themselves on vacation (or in their yoga pants) has made me see them more as the flawed human beings that we all are. I follow Chris Pratt and he's always posting rambling dialogues on his Instagram without makeup, sweaty from working out, and he just looks like a dude you could run into at the 7-Eleven that would have b.o. Timothee Chalamet posts pictures all the time from his messy bedroom or just hanging out, and he looks like any young person biking to work in the morning. I've seen Ethan Hawke in person at Sundance...honestly he kind of looked homeless as he's very weathered. Tom Holland takes pics of walking his dog Tessa all the time, complains about his workouts, and frequently looks "very real" in his videos when he isn't deliberately trying to be a "thirst trap." It's strange to see these people (who are very famous) just being people. It's strange to see so many fat people in the audience. I feel like I don't even know what fame is anymore, other than some people have it and others don't. I couldn't tell you why.

Overall, I think this is a good thing for everyone, because there are opportunities in the business for tons of people. Now, more than ever, I feel like any successful person can come from anyplace, and a lot of "success" just depends on a person being lucky while also having a solid work ethic. I also don't know if I could point out the qualities that make a star anymore. It used to be physical beauty and the ability to memorize lines. Now I think that there's demands for everything. Have you got big muscles? You can be a star. Are you funny? You can be a star. Are you brown, black, white, yellow? You can be a star. Are you mentally ill (here's looking at you Joaquin Phoenix--and yes, I do think he's mentally ill)? Then too can be a star. It feels very much like barriers that kept a certain "look" or "style" in the movies have very much crumbled, especially with the Best Picture win of Parasite.

I also didn't expect Parasite to win until it won Best Director. When it captured that, I pronounced to my Oscar party that it just won Best Picture. My heart was with 1917, but I knew that film had lost. "How do you know?" They asked. I responded, "It's simple math really. 1917 hasn't won any of the big awards, and this movie has. Parasite has to be Best Picture. Also, Best Director is very central to a film. It's a rare thing that a movie doesn't get Best Director and goes on to get Best Picture."

Parasite deserved its win. I watched it two hours before the Academy Awards. It's a dark and depressing movie that sits with you after you've watched it. This is a tone that many Asian movies tend to take. Income inequality is awful, people. The lives portrayed in Parasite are horrifying, and I'm glad I don't have a life that's like that.

I watch the Academy Awards every year, but its definitely evolving, and it's becoming more inclusive. I think barriers are coming down everywhere, especially with the rise of social media and the rise of independent streaming studios like Amazon and Netflix. Television is becoming more relevant, and movie theaters less so. I wonder if we'll ever see a YouTube influencer like PewDiePie on the stage in a tracksuit giving out an Academy Award to someone. Oh how times have changed.

Assorted Musings:

1) I wish I'd seen Dwayne Johnson. Was he even there? He's like the biggest star in the world. He's probably too busy marketing Termana Tequila, which is his vehicle to becoming a billionaire. George Clooney stumbled into this thing too, which is probably Dwayne Johnson's inspiration for an intentional business choice to use his star power to sell high quality tequila for a price everyone can afford.

2) I miss the Oscars having a host. Now we get ramblings like the one Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig delivered. Those were painful to watch and decidedly not funny.

3) I disagree with Martin Scorsese who said publicly that Marvel movies are not real movies. He's a dinosaur marching off to his tar pit, and it really shows in that The Irishman won nothing of its ten nominations.

4) Luke Perry and Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses) should have been in the Memoriam tribute.

5) Best Animated Feature Film was kind of a joke this year. I thought all the nominees paled in comparison to the ones from previous years. You know it's a "blah" year when the fourth entry in a franchise is the freshest thing you can find to win this category.

6) Laura Dern winning an Academy Award for a Netflix show is a testament to the rising power of streaming services and the growing marginalization of movie theaters.

7) Anything political the stars have to say feels even more tone deaf and out of touch than it ever has before in the past. The world is on fire. Everyone knows it, and every opinion about it is in a bubble now (viewed only by people who already know and support all the things being said). Being lectured to about going vegan from a man that can afford chefs to prepare and cook meals for him feels very odd. All other topics felt very much like an Echo chamber? No one that is conservative watches these award shows. Only liberals do. In many ways, it's just like Facebook in that anyone that was liberal and had conservative people following them got blocked a long time ago. Audiences are completely bifurcated. I've a friend like that who is oblivious to the fact that he's in an Echo chamber, posting anti-Trump stuff. He probably has twenty people (all liberal) who actually see those posts anymore. He doesn't realize that Facebook allows you to unfollow (but remain friends) with people.

8) I'm happy that Asians are winning things now. It's about damned time.


  1. You're right - most Asian films are either depressing or tragic. Someone always dies.
    The Oscars have lost their shine for many reasons and you listed several. The Internet has played a part as well. Years ago, watching the awards might be the only glimpse you had of a real life actor unless you caught that person on a talk show. Now, that person is everywhere online. Plus I think people are realizing how meaningless awards really are.
    Last year was an all-time low in viewing and this year was ten percent below that. America has sent a message - they don't want to hear overpaid actors rant about the country and they don't care about award shows anymore.
    And I was pulling for 1917 as well. I'd even been all right with Joker winning.

  2. Why spend 4 hours watching an awards show that can be summarized in a list on my phone or a 30-second report on the local news? It's like in sports the all star games used to be a huge deal because it was the only time (besides the championship) you'd get to see both leagues or conferences together. But then with the rise of cable TV and longer schedules that no longer mattered because you could see all the teams whenever you want and they started having the leagues or conferences playing each other during the season. There was no longer anything special about it.

    So now thanks to social media you can see celebrities all the time, so getting them together in one place isn't special anymore. Plus conservative snowflakes who don't want to be told the truth because it might burst the little bubble of obliviousness they live in.

    Anyway, I haven't seen Parasite or 1917 or Toy Story 4 (or Toy Story 3) but I did see Joker and thought it was meh.

  3. When the nominations came out, I was meh. I didn't recognize many of the nominees. I think I've lost my care of movies. I don't know if it's the movies themselves or if it's me. It's probably me.

  4. Happy Valentine's Day! And President's Day.

  5. Thanks for say that Joaquin Phoenix is non compis mentis. The guy has been unstable for years and very neurotic, even for an actor.

    I half-watched the Oscars while puttering around getting tasks done. And I missed having a smart, very funny host. But dance fiend that I am, I LOVED the choreography of the opening number. After that, I just didn't care much.