Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Oscars Grouch


I don’t care about the Oscars.

And I can’t understand why anyone would — unless you were working on it, or had worked on a movie that got nominated.

I feel the same about watching pro sports, by the way: Why people would sit around and watch it is a real head-scratcher.

I’m not opposed to these things; I just really can’t understand. I guess I have a better understanding of watching pro sports — hey, somebody might do something spectacular while you’re watching! and I did watch some of the Olympics for that reason, but that was at the gym while I was doing my own spectacular feat, namely not dying on the elliptical machine — but, after the inevitable opening comedy monologue, aren’t celebrity awards shows just two or three tedious hours of watching famous rich people get up to receive even more fame and riches? Why is that entertaining? To me, it seems too close to the English class system, where haughty imperials “do their part for the local economy” by swilling down champagne while commoners get rations. The other day I came across a clip online from Jimmy Fallon’s show where he got some black people to talk to what they thought was a video chat with Chadwick Boseman, the actor who plays Black Panther; one after another, these people profusely thanked Boseman for making the movie and representing them on film. Y’know, I get it. I do. Really. As much as I can, as a white man. But my immediate thought was: He’s playing a wealthy monarch superhero, which doesn’t represent them, and he didn’t do it for them, he did it for millions of dollars. (Listen, I will gladly represent arty middle-aged German-American suburbanites onscreen for just hundreds of thousands of dollars.) Then — surprise! — it turned out that it wasn’t a video chat, that Chadwick Boseman was actually there behind the curtain! When he came out, the fan-worshipers were thrilled and at least one said “My king!” and crossed his or her arms in what I take to be a subject’s salute and genuflection re-enacted from the movie. This was even worse than mere celebrity worship — this was worshiping celebrity plus monarchy. I thought grumpily, “Our forefathers did fight a war against this sort of thing!”

Last week I noticed that a band I really like was playing locally tonight. I floated the idea of going, even though I wasn’t sure I truly wanted to go, given my dislike of the venue, only to have my friend recoil in horror. “Oh, no!” he said. “That’s the Oscars! There’s a party I always go to!” The last Oscars party I went to was about 20 years ago, and I can’t remember anything about it, except everyone else’s ginned-up excitement when some movie or other won or lost. Generally, when people tell me the Oscars are coming up, I’ll say, honestly, “When?” Not because I’m putting on airs, but because I don’t follow it and don’t know. The fact that I can live and work in the city that houses both Disney and Warner Bros., as well as a quintillion independent production companies, and that I’m in Hollywood two or three days a week, and I never know when the Oscars are, tells you about how difficult it can be for facts to break through. (Which may partly explain many evangelicals’ support of Trump.) If I cared about the Oscars, I’d know when they are. Supporting evidence:  I know when Comic-Con is. If you like the Oscars, that’s fine, I just can’t understand. But if you don’t care about Comic-Con, well, that’s inexplicable.

Luckily for me, my wife feels the same way about the Oscars. I say luckily because that means that I have never had to gamely play along while we host an Oscars party. Tonight, she’ll be at work saving people’s lives at our local hospital. Our 15-year-old will be playing Fortnite or reading Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon (which he’d better finish in time for that book report!). I’ll either be at the gym or back here writing, and I admit to being interested in seeing how Rick does on “The Walking Dead” without his son “Coral.” During all of that, some people will win a little gold statuette saying they’re the best at acting like they are someone else, and others won’t win it, and some person will win a little gold statuette saying that he or she is the best at directing those people exactly how to act like someone else in the best possible way, and where to stand, and the day after that everyone will go back to doing everything else.

2 Responses to “Oscars Grouch”

  1. Mark Chaet Says:

    I knew there were reasons we’re friends. Your attitude about the Oscars pretty much mirrors mine. Tomorrow morning I’ll read the list of winners, and if anything exciting happened, there will be video clips and I can watch those if I want to. Sports, pretty much same as you. I’ve nothing against people watching and (hopefully) enjoying either of those things, but they’re not my pleasures. And, re: the Oscars, I was a professional actor for over 30 years (therefore, obviously, my make-believe nonchalance about the Oscars – they really, really didn’t like me). I’ll watch 60 minutes at 7, unless that’s the Oscars channel tonight, then look for something on Netflix. Re: Black Panther. I’m glad if this is encouraging for the African American community. They deserve encouragement. The on-going, neverending racism in this country is horrible. But I don’t like super hero movies, no matter what color skin the hero has (even if it’s green).

  2. Dan Says:

    Sounds like we were separated at birth. I spent last night watching a really bad movie with Jane Mansfield & Cameron Mitchell, and I still think I came out ahead.

    As for professional sports, I remember back when VCRs first came out (you were just an infant at the time) a friend told me he could enjoy a taped sports event if he didn’t know who won. I told him I’m that way about war movies.

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