Ah, awards season. It’s that special time of year when people who have fame, money and power celebrate the talent that earns them all that fame, money and power. The problem, as I see it, is that the talent in question is not worth the outrageous sums spent to acknowledge it. At least, not when there’s so much suffering and misery in the world.
Oh wait, I forgot. There’s suffering and misery onstage at the Oscars, too. At least there’s suffering and misery when one celebrity physically assaults another who makes a joke in bad taste, something the assaultee is paid to do.
But we’ll get back to the suffering in a moment.
Those pesky celebrities honor themselves not just once a year, mind you. No, they do it over and over — that’s why it’s “awards season,” not just “awards night.”
The fun starts off with the Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony followed by the Oscar nominees luncheon (yep, even the nominees announcement is a sort of awards ceremony). Next is the Directors Guild of America Awards ceremony, the Annie Awards ceremony and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards ceremony.
The Critics Choice Awards ceremony and the Critics Choice Super Awards are next, then the Producers Guild of America Awards ceremony, the Writers Guild of America Awards ceremony.
Finally the mother of all awards ceremonies: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscars ceremony.
But we mustn’t forget the Golden Globes and the Emmys. Oh, and the New York Film Critics Circle awards, the People’s Choice Awards ceremony, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards. Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Yep, there are more but you get the idea.
If I’m honest, it’s not just disproportionately awarding talent. It’s the doing it over and over. How many lavish awards ceremonies are needed to recognize these achievements? I mean, it’s not like the AMA or the NEA have multiple awards ceremonies to recognize their members’ achievements every year.
Because all this over-the-top celebration elevates celebrities in the first place, our children look up to these people. It used to be kids wanted to be astronauts or scientists or even president. Now, they all want to be actors or singers — all, that is, except for the ones who want to be professional athletes.
Actors used to occupy social standing somewhere between bookies and prostitutes. But today, they’re pretty much top of the food chain.
Are our priorities maybe mixed up?
The cost of the 2022 Academy Awards was reportedly $42.9 million.
Oh, and the gift bags. Each nominee received a gift bag valued at $140,000 each. Only in America could you fit $140,000 worth of crap into a bag.
Twitter user Matt Pips tweeted, “I know it’s nothing new that there’s such a shocking wealth divide in the world, but there’s something a little gross about the Oscars having $140k gift bags for nominees.”
CNBC host Scott Wapner mused, “I’ve spent hours thinking about why tonight’s Oscar nominees each get $140,000 gift bags and I’m still at a loss.”
I’m not opposed to recognizing achievement in any given field — nevertheless, isn’t this piggish excess?
But what about the suffering and misery at the Oscars?
I’m sure you’ve heard how Will Smith hit Chris Rock when the latter made a tacky joke of which the former disapproved.
Hit him right on live television. Then cursed him out.
The incident occurred when Rock — on stage to present the award for best documentary — made a tasteless joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock said he couldn’t wait for “G.I. Jane II,” likening Pinkett Smith’s clean head to Demi Moore’s shaven skull in the film “G.I. Jane.” Pinkett Smith has said she suffers from alopecia, causing her to lose her hair. It is unclear if Rock knew of Pinkett Smith’s condition beforehand.
At first, Smith laughed uproariously while his wife rolled her eyes at the joke. But a moment later, Smith rose, strode to the stage and assaulted Rock. It was described as a slap but it was something more than a run-of-the-mill face-smack.
Smith has prior experience slapping people who displease him. In 2012, Smith smacked Ukrainian prankster Vitalii Sediuk on the red carpet at the “Men in Black III” premiere.
Smith has also poked fun at bald people. A video from 1991 has reemerged, a clip showing Smith joking about a man with no hair. Sure, it’s 30 years ago but it’s mocking a bald guy. Right or wrong, the point is, we don’t slug someone for saying stuff that’s in bad taste.
If the assault (yes, that’s legally what it was) wasn’t enough, Smith proceeded to bellow obscenities at the top of his lungs to Rock after Smith had returned to his front-row seat. Classy, huh? That’s not how you defend your wife, particularly when half the world questions your bizarre relationship and child-rearing practices, anyway.
Moments after Smith’s violent meltdown, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson reportedly ordered Smith to leave the ceremony. With a mind-blowing level of arrogance, Smith refused.
According to Academy Governor and apologist Whoopi Goldberg, sometimes we “…behave badly.” That’s true, Whoopi. But real people suffer the real consequences of their bad behavior. I’m pretty sure whatever consequences Smith earns will be negligible.
“We’re not going to take that Oscar from him,” declared Goldberg. She also pointed out that, after two years of nationwide protests, forcibly removing a Black man from the Oscars would’ve produced unacceptably bad optics, irrespective of Smith’s star status. So you can assault a guy on international television during the very ceremony at which you’re collecting an award, refuse to leave when asked, justify everything you did using rambling deflection and lots of tears, then go off to some parties and celebrate yourself like nothing happened.
Hollywood consequences. Nice.
Do I think Smith should lose his Oscar? Probably not. But the Academy wants to sound tough as it points to its pious code of conduct — it announced three possible penalties for Smith. Conveniently, in between a truly punishing membership revocation and a humiliating Oscar invalidation, the Academy slipped in a simple membership suspension. That’s my bet: a six-month suspension will effectively be no punishment at all and will magically end just in time for — you guessed it! — the 2023 awards season.
In Hollywood, consequences are like props on a movie set: they look good on camera but they’re worthless in real life.
No wonder our kids want to sing, dance and act — showered with adoration, deluged with booty and never any consequences.
As we deck the halls with boughs of Hollywood, I wish you the happiest of awards seasons. I hope, like me, the season’s good tidings of great excess make you proud to be an American.
Photograph © BDS2006 via Wiki; © Amdrewcs81 via Wiki
30 MAR 2022 EDITORIAL NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect Smith’s refusal to leave the ceremony when AMPAS officials discreetly asked him to do so.