Tales of the Meat-Grinder: An Honest Review of the Oscars 2015
“What time do the Oscars start?” My mother asked. She turned on the TV. I cringed. Within ten seconds I was already begging for death. I would have run screaming from the room but a perverse fascination held my attention. “Who ARE these people?” They didn’t look like people. They didn’t even look like actors. They were celebrities.
The beast of Hollywood was rearing its ugly head; a regular red carpet vomit-fest. Actors and actresses shared brilliant revelations such as “cinema is always changing” and “this was the most ____ movie I’ve ever done.” In paparazzi alley the beautiful people showcased their lucrative genetics, sporting embarrassingly un-ironic phony pouts. “Holy macarel, look at that dress!” It appeared sequins were in this year.
Barney Stinson started singing about the glory and triumph of moving pictures; reminding us how important the movies are because they teach us how to dream. Apparently Cinderella wears “Jimmy Chu”. Jack Black interrupted the song and shared some comically jaded cynicism aka a realistic point of view.
“MOVIES! MOVIES! WOW! THEY ROCK!/ Once they did, but listen kid it’s all a big crock!/ Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get is superheroes/ superman, spider man, batman, jedi man/ sequel man, prequel man, formulaic scripts/ and after fifty shades of grey they’ll all have leather whips."
Damn, that was actually kind of cool. I figured I’d stick around. Just for a bit. Sitting patiently in the theater, the celebrities made boredom look thrilling and glamorous. Their eyes were twinkling with Satan’s passion; that tender mix of diamonds and raw sexuality. It was all fun and games until they played the American Sniper clip. “If that movie wins I swear to God I’m going to set myself on fire” I thought. The “Patriot Cam” zoomed in on Bradley Cooper at each mention of something remotely American. Adam Lavigne sang a song. It was called “Pretty Song About Movie Stars That Are Sad” When he closed his eyes, you could tell he was really into it. “Okay I think I’ve had enough”.
I went upstairs to read angrily. But I couldn’t really concentrate because all I could hear was the damn television. I realized I had no choice but to surrender. Besides, my Nana was visiting and I thought it would be nice to spend time with my family, even if it meant certain death.
So I went back downstairs and sat down on the couch and watched the next musical number, which was a disorienting orgy of sound and color. Through the commotion, I could just make out the words “everything is cool when you’re part of the team!” – An anthem of conformity, which could not be more appropriate for my present situation. I felt my eyes going out of focus and I started to drool slightly. I am part of the team. I am part of the team…
“Hey, that’s the guy from the Hunger Games”. Two youthful human-like entities with all the poise and grace and emotional precision of drones twice their age presented another award. Another song played: “I’m grateful for the storm” sang the beautiful overnight success. There was another song in there at some point; it was called “Sentimental Emotional Manipulation Song” by Glenn Campbell.
It was turning into a grim affair indeed.
There was an announcement from the Academy President. She talked about “The power of film” that “unites the human spirit” with all the humanity and charm of The Hunger Games’ President Snow. She also mentioned we should protect ourselves against threats to our freedom of expression (aka communists) as the Patriot Cam zoomed in once again on Bradley Cooper. “If American Sniper wins, I swear to God…”
I was becoming a bit depressed by the fact that by the end of the night I would almost certainly be in flames. I was also alarmed by how much my grandmother actually liked “American Sniper”, though she had been spending a lot of time in Florida, so you couldn’t really blame her. But just when I thought the whole situation was hopeless, another musical number began. It was “Glory”, a song that would make headlines for actually being about something real, and it was fucking amazing. Even better was the acceptance speech given by the performers after winning an award for that song, addressing actual political and social issues in a way that didn’t make you want to vomit. “Holy shit, can they really say that on television?”
And then there was Lady Gaga. She blew everyone away by proving that a modern pop singer can actually sing. It was beautiful. She gave me tingles. It almost made me forget how ridiculous the whole evening was.
The night was dragging on. There were lots of awards for people that weren’t even famous. I was slipping into another stupor. As usual, they were running late. Most of my family had gone to bed. I was amazed that I was still there, but I couldn’t just bail on my Nana. Besides, I had to see if I was going to set myself on fire or not. We waited and waited and waited for Sean Penn to relieve us with his rugged charm to announce the final award. Finally, the time had come. It was the moment of truth.
And the Oscar goes to:
(excessive pause, nervous laughter from audience, still pausing, WTF man, just tell us already!!)
Sweet relief. I would live another day. My Nana was kind of pissed. What a night!
It may be hard to see why elaborate phony rituals like these are still worth half a damn to anyone, but in this twisted modern culture, they still are. Hell, for a couple of fleeting moments, they got me to care, even if it was only for my own survival. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. Because if I learned one thing, it's that in the midst of all this rabid narcissism and depravity, there are still people that care enough to look stupid enough to dish out a sliver of the truth. And if that's the case, then maybe, just maybe, we might not be as doomed as we thought.