Everyone complains about the Oscars — the host, the length, the nominees, the winners, the speeches, the montages, the themes. Every year, it’s an apocalypse followed by a resurrection — or the reverse. The ratings never seem drastically different but every percentage point is read like tarot cards. It’s never a great show, sometimes it’s better, most of the time it’s worse and there are plenty of times when it’s downright awful.
Yet every year, people act as if this hasn’t happened before and are plunged into the same Kubler Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Let’s work through these together.
Denial: The show wasn’t that bad.
The Oscars are not an entertainment show, they’re a show about entertainment. You want actual entertainment during awards season, watch the Golden Globes, where liquor and a room packed with movie and TV stars, staged like a lowkey bar mitzvah, creates a clubby, mellow environment. Better yet, watch a movie. The Oscars are a massive production that serves as an ambassador of Hollywood to the world — and ambassadors are known for toeing the line, not fun-loving flair.
Saggy production numbers, borsht-belt shtick and Ziegfield sets didn’t just show up this year, they’ve been around forever. So yes, it is this bad, it’s always been this bad and it will continue to be bad.
Anger: How can this happen?
You certainly have enough reasons to rage. The nominated movies are usually not widely seen, in some cases earning less than the catering budget on blockbusters. The winners can seem like a foregone conclusion, especially if you’ve been watching the other 1,000 awars shows. It is a long show made even longer by incomprehensible speeches and your possible lack of interest in categories like sound editing. It’s not an especially fun three hours for a Hollywood fan.
My suggestion? Try DVR. You’ll be amazed at how much more fascinating everything is when fast-forwarded. You’ll still see everything but only watch what you want. Don’t play the victim when you can control your viewing destiny.
Bargaining: If only they could make a few changes …
This is the stage that’s hardest to get past because every year, there are plenty of suggestions about how to make the Oscars more relevant. A younger host, no host, less nominees, more nominees, a different location, a new producer — these are all pointless discussions because no matter what, the next year’s show will be exactly the same.
Think back to James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s tragic outing and now compare it to your feelings about Billy Crystal – both make you feel sad and hollow, just in different ways.
There’s a great quote that says everything must change in order for it to stay the same. That could be Oscar’s motto. Don’t fall for the “what if” scenarios. Barring an onstage extension-pulling catfight, drug or Botox-induced stroke or a piece of lighting hitting a presenter, the show will go on the same way it always has.
Depression: Why should I bother watching this show
It’s OK to feel this way. The Emmys are a lovable show because TV actors aren’t overly attractive, seem really grateful to win and you feel like you know them intimately because they show up at your house every week. The Globes are fun, much like your inappropriate uncle Lou at Thanksgiving.
The Oscars are more like homework. If you don’t watch them, you feel shortchanged and unprepared. If you do, you don’t feel particularly smarter. But if you never do homework, you flunk out of school and end up on an MTV reality show. So there are advantages to watching the Oscars, they’re just not immediately recognizable.
Acceptance: It’s just a $%#@ show and that’s the way it is.
Finally, we’ve cycled through to the biggie. After recognizing the Oscars’ many flaws and its inability to change, we acknowledge the reality of the situation. We will continue to watch the Oscars for the spectacle, the hot couples, the flubbed intros, the grimly smiling losers, the insincere speeches and the truly touching ones.
We will not let this show define our feelings about the movies or entertainment. We will deal its limitations because unlike other frustrating relationships in our lives, this at least involves attractive, glamorous people.
And we go through the same exact process next year.