So somehow, I never got around to seeing any of the Oscar-nominated films this year. This isn’t a point of pride, something I say to assure folks of my disdain for popular culture. I’m just not much a movie-goer. Movies are far too expensive these days, and there are far too many of them. The same situation pertains to books. Have you been to a bookstore recently and seen how many books are published these days? And that’s just those which make it to your local Barnes and Noble–most of them don’t. Same thing with movies. You’ve got all the Oscar bait, all the blockbusters, all the “indie” films, all the truly independent films, and more. It’s too much choice. I don’t react well to a whole lot of choice. My favorite place to eat back in Jonesboro was this little lunch counter that served a special and a quiche. If you didn’t like the special, you got the quiche–simple as that. And so, faced with all the wealth of movies and books and television shows out there, I retreat into a realm of surety. I watch Kurosawa movies. I read Jane Austen. I check out DVDs of The Prisoner from the library. I don’t have time to sift through everything being thrown at me, and so I’ll stick with the classics.
But even I make the mistake of occasionally thinking the Oscars more important than they are, even though I’m judging the Oscars based upon movies I’ve only read synopses of in reviews or otherwise. However, as my wife reminds me each time, the Oscars are nothing but a trade show. Think of any other trade show you might have been to. Think of the awards given out for Most Dedicated Vacuum Salesman or Best Director of Sewage Treatment for the Southeastern States. Those awards mean something to the recipients and to the people involved in those organizations, and I’m sure that there is a lot of internal debate in the relevant societies about who didn’t actually deserve nomination and who got robbed and so on and so forth. I’ve a friend who still laments how he was denied the top prize given by the Pulaski County Historical Society back in 1981. Do I care? Should you?
What the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences (I think that’s the name–I’m too lazy to look it up) has done is convince us that its insular awards show has real significance for the rest of us out in the world. And we buy it each time. We think that, because we go to the movies on occasion, we are a part of their world, that their tiny little society includes us, too. And because we think that, and because we fancy ourselves honest people, we also like to think that their little awards gala has the genuine aim of determining the best movie, the best actress, and so on, rather than awarding sycophants and industry standards–the same as any other award ceremony.
You don’t have to take the Oscars seriously. In fact, your taking them seriously is what is preventing thousands of entertainment reporters from learning actual job skills.