It’s time for an Academy Awards makeover

I moved to California to become an actor and failed. I can’t say I gave it my best effort. That was when I peaked as a screw-up. I spent more time watching movies, up to three a day, to escape, than I did practicing my craft, though I did take lessons. And when I took the time to memorize my lines, I did well, but that was the exception.

Perhaps if I’d spent more time acting instead of watching movies and the Oscars, dreaming that one day I’d be up there thanking my agent and everyone at William-Morris, including the lowly assistant that once brought me a diamond-studded bottle of Evian when my mouth was dry from negotiating the size of my trailer’s hot tub on the set of my next blockbuster movie, I would have had an acting career.

So, as a long-time Academy Awards freak, who used to watch every minute of every show, I feel they’ve become so “yesterday” and stale, delivering the same formula every year. Even worse, each year is more sanitized than the previous year, going as far as casting two harmless young actors to host for fear a comedian might tell a joke making fun of spoiled millionaires who have the greatest career in the world and can order anything they want from the Pottery Barn catalog. Poor, sensitive show-biz folk.

Where did the surprises go? The unpredictable moments? The politically incorrect? The causes? It’s definitely show “business” now, wrapped in a sterile Kraft cheese-slice wrapper. How many thank you’s to agents, mothers and God can one take in three-plus hours?

There’s something disconcerting about watching all of these masterpieces of make-up and genetics get up on stage to receive a reward for having the greatest job in the world – and thanking others who have the greatest job in the world. They are rewarded for being the most pampered of the pampered.

Then there’s the apples to oranges problem. How do you compare these talented people and works of art to each other and say one is better, or the best? It would be easier to get over this hurdle, as it was in previous years, if the show was better. Now it’s lack of meaning and quality opens it up to criticism and the picking of rotting meat from its bones.

I say blow it all up and give it an Ultimate Fighting Championship flavor mixed with a dash of Wipeout and spoonful of Survivor. I’d like to see the actors battle for the award. Put them all on stage, the Oscar in the center, and let them run for it like a Barry Bonds homerun ball. Spray wet cement and margarine on the stage while they fight it out. The actor who comes up with the Oscar, keeps it. Perhaps, the Oscars could go Pay-Per-View?

Even this concept might get old after a while with the winners constantly thanking their trainers: “Thank you to my Ultimate Fighting Coach, Busta Cap, who taught me how to crush a man’s ribs with two fingers. Sorry about the hurt I put on you, James Franco, but the Oscar is mine. All mine. ‘F’ all of you. I am the best actor – and I got the gold in my hand to prove it.”

It might get old eventually, but it would keep me off my DVR remote’s fast forward button for a few years.

Stay fresh.

4 thoughts on “It’s time for an Academy Awards makeover

  1. I agree that celebrities need to be able to take a ribbing from time to time. Maybe not a Gervais low-blow, but certainly a few shots to the body or the head just to keep them honest.

    I think last year was the first year since ’95 that I sat down and watched the whole show. This year I wavered in and out because the hosts and the presenters were trying WAY TOO HARD to be funny (Hathaway did a respectable job, though).

    I will say I like the speeches. My cousin who is out in your town trying to live the dream has said many times:

    “Would you watch the credits of a movie if I were in them? Would you listen to an acceptance speech if I was giving it? I know how hard the people behind the scenes work just to get their moment in the spotlight: in the credits or and untelevised award. It means something to everyone. Even some of the big names still care.”

    It’s a shame the Oscars don’t mean as much to everyone else as they do to my cousin. I liked with Leo said the F-word because it was real. She was shocked and she appreciated that entire moment. That was my favorite part of the whole show.

    • Josh,

      Excellent comment. I remember a post of yours a long time ago of a visit to your cousin in LA. Is that correct?

      I am in no way criticizing the importance of the awards to the people behind the scenes. I just don’t think the show is telling a very compelling story anymore. They need to refocus their message of how important the award is to people and what they had to go through to earn that level of respect. Again, that would mean a complete revamping of the way the show is produced. Something about it doesn’t work well anymore.

      I agree with you about the F-word speech. It was the highlight because it broke away from the convention of safe, predictable speeches. But I think it reinforces my points about the show. It doesn’t say much for the Academy Awards when the highlight is the F-bomb being dropped. They can do better. The show is about fantastic movies. They have a lot to work with. They just aren’t working with the product they make and the talent they have in an interesting way anymore. They should start with a blank page and create something dynamic and exciting.

      Overall, I get a sense of the show not knowing what it wants to be in this modern age we live in. They haven’t adapted to the potential and current technology.

      Thanks for taking the time to write down your thoughts on my blog.

      John

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