Oscar: Why We Watch the Oscar Show?

What Celebs think about the Oscar Awards:

The Academy Award is the Nobel Prize of motion pictures–Leroy Johnston

Nothing denotes success so visibly and tangibly as the Oscars–British journalist

The Oscar is the most particular of American phenomenon–Vincent Canby, film critic

Aside from the campaign for President, the Oscar derby is America’s most contentious horse race–Richard Corliss, film critic

When people see the label Academy Award Winner, they go to see that movie–Scorsese, Oscar-winning director

The Oscar show is Hollywood’s orgy of self-congratulation–Anonymous executive

In the mythology of the cinema, the Oscar is the supreme prize–Italian director Federico Fellini

The Oscars are classic American Kitsch–Lily Tomlin, Oscar nominee

The Oscar is as valid as any award around–Jack Nicholson, three-times Oscar winner

When I was a young boy, the two seminal television events in my family were the World Series and the Academy Awards–Harvey Weinstein, co-chair, Weisntein Company
 

As the above quotes suggest, the Oscar Award and the Oscar telecast fulfill various functions and convey various meanings for different individuals and different groups in American pop culture.

Joyce Millman tried to explain in the significance of awards in general, and the Oscar in particular:  “We sneer at awards shows, we second-guess them.  We hold viewing parties and yell catty comments at the tube.  We complain about how long and dull they are.  Yet, every year, when the awards telecast cycle begins anew, we’re there.”

For Millman, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammy, and the Golden Globes “invite us into the inner circle of the gods and goddesses, allowing us to witness them at their vulnerable moments when the envelopes are opened and the tribe has spoken.”  Perhaps more importantly, “awards are the canvas upon which we project our desire for fame, beauty, and, above all, popularity.  Who hasn’t experienced that fantasy moment in front of the bathroom mirror, where you clutch a shampoo bottle in lieu of a bronzed statuette and deliver the witty yet gracious acceptance speech you’ve been working on since you were a kid”


Is it too much to suggest that standing on the Oscar podium and thanking your family and friends–and every person you have ever met in your life–has become the ultimate American fantasy.  The strong need to be recognized, the urge to be acknowledged in public, to desire to grab the spotlight.  Not for 15 minutes of fame, as Andy Warhol had predicted in the 1960s.  That’s too long. 

 

A 45-second speech, which is the Academy’s prescribed norm, will do, or else swelling music will interrupt your speech in mid-sentence–unless you’re Julia Roberts or Warren Beatty, whose speeches have been some of the longest in Oscar’s history.

The hype and hoopla about and around the Oscars increased in the late twentieth century due to the rise and prominence of celebrity culture–the red carpet.

Every year, during the crucial Oscar season, roughly from mid-December, when the first critics groups announce their selections, to late February, when the Oscar ceremonies are broadcast, the whole film industry–and the rest of the country–seem to be talking about one issue, the Oscars–their fairness, their meaning, their effect–and, of course, the scandals and controversies. 

A long production process begins in December, as soon as the field of potential Oscar nominees is narrowed down, and moves into high gear after the nominations.  The countdown to Oscar night, known in the industry as Super Sunday, begins as soon as the nominations are made, in the second week of February.  For six weeks, the Oscar candidates, from the frontrunners to the underdogs, flood the airwaves with ads, tearing to shreds the campaign tactics of their opponents.

Unlike many other American institutions, the Oscars cannot be bought.  But they sure can be promoted aggressively, advertised, and wooed.