Apparently the Internet believes that anyone who accesses it is some kind of a human content maw that requires endless feeding, because there's really no other way to explain the reason that Oscar coverage proliferates like poison ivy despite the fact that said coverage almost invariably obsesses over how lame the Oscars are. I don't often point to myself as a positive example in any respect, but after Ordinary People...well, I don't need to go on, do I? (And yes, before you contemplate getting shirty about it in comments, Ordinary People is, by a certain yardstick, not a bad, or "bad," movie. All right?) After that, "Won't Get Fooled Again" became my Oscar theme song and, until such point as watching the ceremony became something like a professional obligation, I didn't let it trouble me.
Recently the internet film journalist/gadfly Jeffrey Wells complained that the film producer Gavin Polone was usurping his (Wells') curmodgeonly throne by deigning to outline for New York magazine what he considered to be the problem with the Oscar "farce," as he calls it. Polone's piece is quite the earnest little finger-wag (were you aware, incidentally, that the Miss America pageant is "misogynistic?" Man!), and I suppose we're all supposed to be impressed that a MAJOR HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER is waxing so frank on the irrelevance of the event. Watch as he throws down about acceptance speeches: "by the third speech of someone thanking his spouse, agent, manager, psychic, dog walker, and the person who clears his chakras, I am always bored and left wondering why he couldn’t just have a private conversation with the person to whom he wishes to express his gratitude, and then find something more interesting or entertaining to talk about on television."
Yes, God forbid anyone should bore the eternally tetchy Polone. Anyone remember that great profile of him in the New York Times Magazine some years ago, in which he volunteered that he and his girlfriend would never have children because the human race sucks and it's better to rescue dogs or something, and how he and said girlfriend were such monkish ascetics in spite of their Hollywood riches that they regularly breakfasted on DIRT (or wheatgrass or wheat germ or something like that, I forget what) and so on? Yeah, that makes it pretty funny that HE should be bitching about people who believe in chakras. Polone is somewhat more interesting on how awards actually skew the business itself, so at least he's complaining about something he has an actual stake in. Somewhat more mystifying is the "Fix The Oscars" interactive thingie going on at Slate, overseen by the ever-engaging Dan Kois, wherein readers and Slate's own delightfully insouciant contrarians offer exciting suggestions on how to make the televised ceremony less stodgy and dull.
Thing is, the Academy Awards have ALWAYS been largely stodgy and dull; their whole reason for being, the initial screwing-over-organized-labor thing aside, was to confer a certain air of respectability to the filmmaking industry. One watched the awards at least in part to have a lit of a laugh over the extent to which they didn't get it. Hell, even the streaker who "disrupted" the 1974 ceremony was at least a few months behind the curve, as it were. This is acknowledged right off the bat in the intro to the Slate thingie: "Academy Awards ceremonies are laughable, even to those of us who love them." This admission begs several questions, but the answers have less to do with the actual Awards than with the civilians who believe they can improve them. They are film lovers, but not in that starry-eyed way; they have gone on record that talk of the "magic" of cinema makes them break out in hives. No, what's most important to them is their vitality in terms of identifying trends, staying on top of the latest modes of snark, embodying a sensibility that makes them not the ideal Entertainment Weekly reader but some form of an ideal Entertainment Weekly senior editor if Entertainment Weekly were still hiring, or ever likely to hire again. BUT. These people, who still talk of drinking games despite being at least a decade and a half out of college, who still bleg for recommendations of karaoke bars, are intuiting that their time in a desired or even really respected demographic ain't long. No, their coronaries are not coming like Christmas (H/T: Phillip Larkin), no, not quite yet, but they understand that they are approaching a certain age. And so are their children. They will soon be past the age when they're complaining about their snooty friends and Phineas and Ferb and one day they will wake up and not only despise the parents they were once coddled into unconditionally adoring but they will also deem all of the enthusiasms of said parents irredeemably quaint, and WORSE, they will unerringly regard every effort their parents make to adopt enthusiasms of a more contemporary variety as entirely pathetic and feeble. And as their (the parents', that is) waistlines grow even puffier and their hair thinner, the only thing that they (the parents, that is) will be able to cling to with any kind of demonstrable credibility whatsoever will be their claim that they are indeed "hipper," if not actually more "relevant," than the Academy Awards.
And then, like you, me, and Gavin Polone, they will die.