Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ch Ch Ch CH Changes

For the past 15 years I have obsessed about the Oscars. It's always a fun guessing game to wonder who's going to win what and why and who's going to cry and what's the big surprise? Who's going to make a big ass of themselves. And every year I watch and get teary eyed when someone special wins and makes me want to go out and make movies myself. Gwenyth Paltrow, Sofia Coppola, Roberto Benigni. I cry with them and think, maybe one day I'm going to win an Oscar. But this is the year that I stopped caring and realized that the Oscar's aren't really that special, and they don't mean a whole lot in the large scheme of things. It's not like they have special televised awards ceremonies for police officers or firefighters or nurses or soldiers, people who I think are more heroic. I guess in the long run I just think society has their priorities all screwed up. Sometimes I think I grew up around too much television. Sometimes I think too much of my perspective is formed by what I've learned on tv.

This year I was particularly irritated about how the Academy Awards kept coming back to two major themes:
1) Hollywood is politically and socially avant garde. They champion many unpopular causes.
2) Movies should be seen in the theatre.

Now this irritated me to some degree b/c the academy was trying to validate it's own existance. It's as if they know that they don't matter in the large scheme of things, and they're mattering less as our entertainment options expand -we have the Internet and video games among other distractions which take us away from the movie theatres.

Even the winners, many of them multiple honorees had a jaded air about them, which was only emphasized by the needless cutting off of acceptance speeches (as if we need more time to watch inexperienced red carpet hosts ask the movie stars asinine questions). Cutting off the winner's crowning moment basically tells the audience that the award doesn't really matter. Which makes me wonder why we watch anyway. We watch the Oscars because we want to see our stars in an unguarded and vulnerable moment. We want to see them as humans, not stars or the characters they portray. So ultimately, the Academy Awards producers are digging their own graves, cutting the audience off from what they really want.

Furthermore, there was this unending dribble from the Academy President exhorting the audience to visit the movie theatre. Now, given this has been one of the best years critically for American cinema, but one of the worst economically. And there is one main reason that Americans are abandoning the movie theatres. Money. With dvd releases just months after a film's premiere, only a fool would spend $12 a person to hoof it to a theatre that has to be shared with movie goers who forget to turn off their cell phones. For a mere fraction of the price and a small wait, you can watch the same film in the comfort of your own home. And if you have a little extra cash, you can set up your home to resemble a movie theatre. The only way that the film industry will lure people back into the cinema is if they lower admittance prices. The bottom line is that the film industry hasn't figured out how to compete with the comfort of home.

It was refreshing that most of the nominees this year tackled controversial social subject matter. It's awesome that its creating a public dialog, however it is disheartening to realize that more people watch the oscars than vote in elections. Imagine how much more politically active the general population would become if government was as exciting as the film industry.

that's it for now, just some thoughts I had while knitting a sock and watching the oscars. It's actually come to be that I care more about knitting than I do about movies. Which is strange to me, but I think I've figured it out. I love watching movies, I love getting sucked in to the point where I feel like what's happening on screen is happening to me. However watching films is a passive past time, no matter how much you emotionally become involved in the story. Knitting is something I do actively, productively, with other people and I learn something new every day.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I love knitting more than I love movies.



knutty4knitting said...

Well-said. Your comments about the Academy awards last night were spot-on. Very well-written essay! Joy

Christie said...

I totally agree with you. I rarely go see films in the theatre because it's too damn expensive! There are some movies [sweeping epics, LOTR, etc] that need to be seen in the theatre, but often it isn't enough to get me out. I do agree that Hollywood does champion some causes but for Clooney to bring up that they gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in '32 yet have NEVER given a woman Best Director [much less nominate them on the regular] seems like we're patting ourselves on the back a little prematurely.