Oscar Madness: Petty and Proud
by Patricia Draznin

Every year, millions of shallow people just like me watch The Academy Awards ceremony. Because during a three-and-a-half-hour broadcast  (27 minutes in TiVo time), there’s bound to be something for everybody. This year’s Oscar-nominated films showcased themes of political corruption, sexual orientation crisis, drug abuse, prostitution, and murder. There were also themes of darkness.

In Hollywood, it’s all about the art. And of course, the Oscar, the foot-high metal statue that’s Tinseltown’s most coveted doorstop. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the “Academy Award of Merit” depicts a knight holding a crusader sword—not to be confused with a naked man hiding his privates behind a letter opener.

In May 1929, the Academy presented its first awards before 270 people to its already known winners. But today’s Kodak Theater ceremony—seating 3,300 and broadcasting worldwide—recognizes the demand for suspense, not to mention angst and hostility. And plenty of idol worship, starring celebrities in coronation regalia, where 40 yards of designer fabric is still not enough to cover two silicone boobies. 

Who is the Academy, you wonder—don’t you? And how does the voting work? The Academy is a non-profit corporation of 6,000 members, coincidentally including 5,994 potential Oscar candidates. Members submit their nominations on a chad-resistant ballot without being required to see the films, not that this should matter. Academy votes are then tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, who counts the ballots in an undisclosed cave in Afghanistan and delivers the envelopes to the Awards ceremony via secret route, taking Wilshire Boulevard instead of the Hollywood Freeway.

How do people get nominated for an Oscar, you wonder—don’t you? Statistically, Oscar-winning films are based on real-life remarkable individuals, or portray the mentally ill; the men play soldiers or law enforcers, women portray actresses or prostitutes. It’s helpful when the character dies, especially if it was in the script. That’s why it’s every actor’s dream to star in a true drama about a crackerjack undercover call-girl cop with terminal dyslexia.

An Oscar-worthy performance may demand gaining 60 pounds, speaking with a Cambodian accent, and surgically changing gender. But the performance that separates the amateurs from the pros happens on Oscar night in the role of a lifetime, playing the loser who is happy for the winner.

The Academy Awards were instituted to encourage higher standards of excellence in motion picture production, such as remakes and sequels of Cheaper by the Dozen. And the Oscar rituals have since spawned a gaggle of other awards such as the Golden Globes, the Eddies, the Charlies, the BAFTAs, and the BFDs. So with all this promotion of excellence, why are we watching BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE 2, you wonder—don’t you?

Copyright 2006 Patricia Draznin


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