On Oscar

What did Billy Crystal say last night? “Tonight we are going to watch a bunch of millionaires give each other little golden statues.” I have watched the Oscars for a couple of decades, and they really are no more transcendent now than they were in 1929 when the Screen Actors Guild started handing out the faceless statuettes. They just add another level of mysticism, elitism and glamor to an already very selective and exclusive club to which no mortal has access. Like a bunch of crazed voyeurs, we tune in each year to stare at the beautiful people come together to out-stage even each other. Their pathetic attempts at saying “thank you” border on the banal and boring. Basically, the Oscars are here to tell us all that we are just normal human beings and have no chance of ever attaining the fame and stature of the stars who will possibly win a little golden statuette. Oscar is a talisman of exclusivity. The people who receive the award have worked hard, but they also have had their share of good luck. And how many, exactly, have sold their souls to the Devil to get that little golden guy? Far from jealous, I would say that having a normal life is a pretty special thing. I can walk into any Starbucks in any airport in the world and not have to worry about being recognized, about having to be nice to fans, about having every inch of my life under a microscope. While I am out in public, my stress levels are very low. I can go to the grocery store, get my junk and get out. I’m not so sure that giving out autographs, getting lots of photos taken, and having my life scrutinized at every turn would be that interesting. In a sense, any of those famous people is just a regular person as well. Notting Hill (1999) is an unglorified look into the public/private pain of an actress (Julia Roberts) who is looking for love, but her all too public face makes that impossible. The stress of living a public life cannot be at all very fun. Having a face that half the planet will recognize has to be a pain in the neck. Oh, I wouldn’t mind the money, at least at first, and I’m sure the fame is great for the ego, at least at first, but in the long run, the press, the paparazzi, the news channels must be both tedious and boring. You cannot gain a pound or grow old, you cannot have a movie that goes bad, you cannot play characters that your fans might hate, you cannot fail to live up to their expectations. So let them pass out their little statues. The movies may or may not be good. Some of my favorite films were never nominated for anything, and, as far as I’m concerned, many of the big names might never have been made at all.