By Andrew Tsou
All awards ceremonies are essentially meaningless attempts at appealing to people’s crassest attitudes towards art, substituting empty grandeur and smiling celebrities in glittering costumes for a more honest appraisal of the works being considered. Instead of intelligently discussing the merits of movies or records or performances in question, awards ceremonies such as the Oscars simply single out a “winner” in a number of categories, creating the erroneous impression in many people’s minds that this somehow confers some sort of importance on the work. I personally distrust the recommendations of anyone who suggests a book, movie, or record to me based on the fact that it is “award winning,” because if that’s the highest plaudit you can bestow upon a work, it’s very unlikely to impress me.
Empty awards ceremonies are detrimental not only to the audience’s appreciation of the works in question, but to the future production of art; if there is not an acceptable public forum for intelligently considering the various aspects of a work, then the impetus to create art that is both significant and populist suffers. What’s truly offensive about the Oscars, in particular, is the ridiculous amount of press coverage they receive. Actually, scratch that; the most abject aspect about the Oscars is that there are vast numbers of people who are actually interested in them and take them seriously. While debate regarding the intelligence and taste of “the masses” continues in certain circles, the popularity of a ceremony as crass and meaningless as the Oscars speaks poorly for the general tastes of the public.
There are people who appear personally offended if the “wrong” movie or actor gets an award. Why should anyone care what the voters for the Academy Awards think? It’s essentially as meaningful as an election for a high school student body president.
The Oscars amount to Hollywood jerking itself off and pretending that the results are somehow meaningful. Uh-oh, my favorite movie didn’t win an award; does that mean I should find a new favorite movie? Was I wrong not to like the performance of the actor who won an award for best actor? The decisions of those in charge of selecting the winners in no way validate or render moot any given opinions. What makes their opinions more meaningful than those of the cinemagoers who saw and loved a sleeper?
The pomp associated with the Oscars further sours any integrity such an event may have; it’s not a mere “top ten” list published by a critic at the end of a calendar year. Instead, it’s a ridiculous extravaganza fueled by expensive costumes and celebrity appearances. Note: celebrities are bad for movies. Repeat after me: celebrities are bad for movies. When you watch a film, are you looking for an engaging story, interesting characters, ideas or visuals that might serve to inspire you in some way, or are you watching it because John Doe is hot and in the papers all the time? There is no phrase to me that’s a larger turn-off than “all-star cast.” All that that description means is that the studio hired a group of big names; it says nothing about the quality of the film itself, and anyone remotely familiar with the career of, say, Johnny Depp, knows that there is absolutely no correlation between celebrity and acting ability.