Thursday, January 10, 2008

Awards Bash

Letterman earlier this week: "Well, the Writer's Guild of America strike means there will be no Golden Globes telecast this year.

"So thank you writers."

Awards season is certainly shaping up to be a little different this year. With the Globes down and the Oscars under threat, there may not be one at all.

This saddens me because I am the only person in the world who thinks that the Academy Awards Show is too short every year. I hate all that cutting off speeches and sticking NBA shot clocks under the recipient's noses. For many if not most of the honorees in a given Oscar night, it's the high point of their professional lives. Would it kill the rest of us to hear them thank their Moms and publicists?

I think people grow impatient with the Oscars and the rest of the awards shows because there's an inherent misunderstanding of what they are. I think most people think they're tuning in for an entertainment. But that's not what an awards show is.

One year, my (ex) girlfriend dragged me along to her company's annual "Achievement Dinner." I knew exactly one person in the room (her). So as Bob from Accounting and Stan from Overseas Sales and Audrey from Customer Service all paraded up to the podium to accept their Achievement Honors, I was praying they wouldn't be asked to say a few words.

My prayers went unheeded.

Minutes stretched into hours. I amused myself by drawing obscene images on my plate with what was left of my mashed potatoes and gravy. My (ex) girlfriend kicked me under the table more than once.

"I'm bored," I hissed at her.

"It's not about you," she hissed back.

And she was right. I got roped into it, but the awards dinner wasn't about my amusement. It was about patting Bob from Accounting on the back and gearing him up for yet another year of his awful job. Beats giving him more money.

And that's what all these awards things are. They are your company's annual honors. The difference is not many people know who Bob from Accounting is, but everyone knows Johnny Depp and Reese Witherspoon. So there's enough public interest to make it worth sticking the shindig into our living rooms every year.

But the proceedings are, in and of themselves, inherently not entertaining. That's why all the attempts to gussy them up, whether it's with awkward banter or ill-conceived dance numbers or arbitrary montages, always feel flat and forced.

These annual awards are first and foremost marketing tools. In a normal year without a strike, films that may not have lit up the box office can get a second look from the public because now the ad in the paper says, "Nominated for six Academy Awards!" Or maybe "Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor!" Or whatever.

Secondly, they are the industry's Achievement Dinner; a chance to say what a good job people have done and rah rah and let's do it again next year. No different than any other business.

And only third are they there for us to gape at.

And apparently this year, there will be a lot less gaping.

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