Friday, February 24, 2017

"Blogging To The Choir )Which,Based On The Feedback I Generally Receive Will Most Likely Mean You)"

Recently, a demonstrably smart and accomplished artist dinner companion asked us if we were going to watch the upcoming Oscars presentation.  I responded by saying that, as I had seen very few of the major contenders, leaving me minimal “rooting interest” amongst the nominees – including the nominees I had seen – my enthusiasm for the “Annual Ritual” was inevitably muted.  

Our smart and accomplished dinner companion then proceeded to this.  (The precipitating “Starting Point” for this undertaking):

I haven’t seen a lot of the movies either.  But I am interested in the speeches.”

See, For A Deeper Understanding Of That Perspective:  Meryl Streep/slash/ – or “Hash Tag”, though I do not know what that means – memorably orating at the 2017 Golden Globes Awards.

As my late Mom would say, facing a new, eyebrow-raising experience:

That’s a new one.”

Specifically in this case, watching an awards show for the political outpourings.

There is a measurable reality to this burgeoning enthusiasm.  Ratings are up for political talk shows and for Saturday Night Live.  Newspapers are suddenly adding subscriptions.  (Or adding whatever you call it when you read it online instead of they throw it on the porch.)  For various reasons and from various perspectives:  “Will he make good on his extreme promises?”  (From the Right.  “He better.”)  And “Will he make good on his extreme promises?”  (From the Left.  Note To Myself: “Renew Canadian passport.”)

Me?  I go in the diametrically opposite direction. 

(Note:  I just sighed.  Not for being a contrarian; I am {relatively} comfortable with that arrangement.  But for the painfully polarized state of our union.)

Here’s the deal for me, straight out:  

I have no interest in political speeches on awards shows. 

When she heard me say that, our smart and accomplished dinner companion curiously inquired,

“You don’t think they will do any good?”    

(In a tone betraying her sincere, hopeful belief that they would.)

Ever the congenial host for the evening, I haughtily replied…

“Of course not!”

(Note:  Even I didn’t like how that came out.  I had no justification to sound arrogant.  Nobody does.)

The country is evenly divided.  (Give or take three million or so votes, which in this system don’t count because they are substantially clustered together.) 

(A Propos of “The Great Partisan Divide”:  Great cartoon in The New Yorker.  A TV Weather Man, standing before a map of the country says, “That was the Democratic weather.  Now for the Republican weather.”)

Why won’t the political speeches on awards shows do any good?  You know why.  But I shall nonetheless spell it out.  (As a “Purveyor of the Obvious.”  Throw in the word “Proud” before “Purveyor”.  If I am going to embarrass myself, why not embarrass myself “proudly”?)

Okay, off we go.

Of this year’s nominated “Best Picture” contenders, none of them are included in the “Top 10” of “Box Office Grosses for 2016.”  (The closest, La La Land, ranks 23rd in “Worldwide Box Office.”  Hidden Figures ranks 50thLion is 94th.  And I cannot find the other six nominees in the “Top 100.”) 

So who exactly will be watching the Oscars?  (They might tune in for the “Red Carpet” pre-show to check out the dresses but that’s it.)  Summarizing Hypothesis:  The people uninterested in those less than record-setting nominated movies are the people who comprise – primarily though not exclusively – the side the impassioned speechmakers are hoping – if you want to win the Electoral College again – to persuade.

Those people are not there.

Leaving then who watching the Oscars and therefore listening to the speeches?


I know.  There is the galvanizing “Pep Rally” consideration.  But holding a “Pep Rally” after the game?  If that worked they’d be doing it in colleges and they don’t.  Sooner or later, post facto “Pep Rallies” are questionable generators of “Pep.”  (Though they can still make you feel better about things.)

“Influence substantive changes at the ‘Executive Level’”, you say?

You think?

When he watches the Oscars – as he undoubtedly will because what else does the Leader of the Free World have to do? – every time an actor takes an unflattering  swipe, our President – knowing his unwavering M.O. – will predictably remind his gathering of “Intimates”:

“I won.”

Followed by “Tweeting”:

“It just proves they’re elitist.”

Followed by

“She’s a terrible actress.”

Followed by

“And she’s only a ‘Six.’  A ‘Four’, compared to my wives.  Who all love me, by the way.”

Summing up…

When I hear those incendiary firebrands – which sounds redundant and probably is – assaulting the elected President in their well-meaning onstage addresses, I shall sit there unmoved, aware of who they are talking to and who they are not , and I shall ruefully observe:

“They are just wasting their time.”

You have detected from two paragraphs above that I will still watch the Oscars.

I will… at least for a while.

But with no thought that whatever is said there will substantially change anything.

I’ll be watching for the jokes.  Hoping that somebody on the show remembers – quoting the title of comedian Sam Levinson’s memoirs – that

Laughter – absent derisive laughter – is the best medicine.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I won't watch the Oscars unless something dramatic is reported to have happened. Wrong time zone.

The speeches do one thing: they remind the rest of the world that there are more viewpoints in America than the ones the current government is promulgating. Those speeches say, "We're still here" on behalf of the other half of the country. And they provide something closer to entertainment than the fake and scripted jokes the presenters will make and the endless array of thank-yous. William Goldman suggested years ago that the problem with the Oscars ceremony is that it's too short. It was a lot more fun when there was time for people to do the really notable things - wear swans, make speeches for the Cherokee nation, and protest various things. Now, it's the annual corporate video.


Randy said...

Amen. The show is obsolete to me and my no-longer-booming generation. If there's any noteworthy speeches, they'll be all over the internet within moments of their presentation.