General Lunacy,  The Sacred Arts

Star-Crossed Lovers – My Dramatic Reunion with the Oscars

I have a strange, emotionally fraught relationship with the Academy Awards. Believe me, I am aware of how weird that sounds.

When I was a little girl, I used to design gowns for women to wear on that magical night, confident in the knowledge that one day I would wear the shimmery pearl sheath down the red carpet (this was the nineties – shimmery sheaths were in). At eleven years old, I had no reason not to believe I wouldn’t one day strut onto that stage and accept one of the gold statues. After all, I was the most dramatic person I knew (at the time), and I had been practicing my English accent so I could one day play roles in the spirit of Emma Thompson.

For a few years before adulthood reared its ugly head, I would watch the awards show with my mother and evaluate acceptance speeches, discuss the various gowns. “Classy, kept it short and simple, but with a touch of humor,” we said as Emma, a mutual favorite, walked offstage clutching her Oscar. “Ugh, too short, and so tasteless. But it’s what you expect of her,” we said of Cher’s get-up pretty much every year. Year after year we’d shake our head at Jack Nicholson’s rudeness and propensity for wearing sunglasses at night in a darkened theater, and for so many years we longed for the days when Billy Crystal was the host. What a sad, dry spell, those years in between.

When I hit about nineteen, the affair abruptly ended. I was entrenched in school and too busy/poor to even go to the movies, much less be concerned with Hollywood elite’s annual pat-on-their-own-back. More truthfully though, I was hanging out with a crowd that judged my interest in such an enterprise as shallow. Being the naive youth I was, I gave one more shit about their opinions than I should have, and let myself fall victim to peer pressure. Oh, I weep for the years I lost, the missed opportunity to gawk at expensive clothing and have my own opinions.

Let that be a lesson to you, children. Peer pressure=vapid stupidity and regret.

During those barren years of puritanical hard work and self-flagellation that I now call my twenties, I would miss the show itself, then secretly check the internet the next day to find out who won and scroll through pictures of the gowns, sighing to myself over the yards of satin and borrowed jewels. Though by this stage I no longer believed I would ever grace the red carpet with my presence, at least I still appreciated a well-cut dress (and its counterpart, the tacky-or-ill-fitting frock – Celine Dion, I’m looking at you).

This year was the first in over ten years that I watched the entire thing – yes, all sixty-billion hours of it. Partly, I was exhausted from my weekend exploits which included a lot of physical activity and at least one emotional meltdown, and I needed a few hours to veg on something mindless. What is more mindless than an award show?

For those of you who would point out Toddlers and Tiaras or Honey Boo-Boo, you are right, but I will cut you for stating the obvious. As if I would ever watch either of those shows and call it relaxation – it’s more like an exercise in suppressing my gag-reflex. Not that I’m judging anyone else’s taste; after all, I do watch The Bachelor with all the faith of an acolyte.

Additionally, I was a little emotionally invested in this year’s show. Having seen three of the best picture nominees – running up my score by 300% of last year’s tally (translation: I saw zero movies in 2011) – and actually having gone so far as planning to see four of the remaining nominees, I had a lot riding on this. Pulling for Argo or Les Mis, I enjoyed and deemed them both statue-worthy, despite Russell Crowe’s flat singing.

This year, as I watched the Oscars for the first time with the eyes of an adult, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably a good thing that I never became a famous actress. Given my alcoholism and predilection for self-centeredness, I’d definitely become a female version of Robert Downey Jr., or worse, LiLo – because in all fairness, RDJ has really gotten his act together the last decade or so. I also have developed zero-tolerance for fake niceness and shallow conversation, so I’d probably get into an argument with one of the reporters on the red carpet over the state of the U.S. Healthcare System and end the night in jail after punching someone in the head. Plus I’d have to lose like fifty pounds to fit into a silky sheath, and I’d really rather just enjoy my morning granola bars and not have to vomit up my food to fit some alien-standard of beauty.

Not that I have strong opinions about that or anything.

All in all, I enjoyed my reunion with the awards show more than I thought I would. I’ve always had a soft-spot for film, especially if it’s well-done enough to be art. Hey, a good story is a good story, whether written or acted. Mike even watched some of the show with me this year, although later he admitted he only watched because Seth MacFarlane hosted it. I was wondering why he let me bogart the TV all night…


  • winopants

    It makes so much sense now, why they had Seth MacFarlane host, keep the guys from changing the channel! I’m surprised the musical numbers didn’t have your husband in full protest

  • Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom

    “…an exercise in suppressing my gag reflex.” Haha! Yes, that was me too, thinking for sure that I’d be there someday to collect my statuette. When I was six or seven I got the chicken pox. My scratching resulted in raised scars on my upper chest and one of the first things I said to my mother when I realized they were permanent was “Now I can’t wear a strapless gown to the Oscars.” I’m glad she refrained from laughing her head off. 😉

  • Chris Plumb

    How coincidental, I hadn’t watched the Oscars in about ten years either, and I watched most of this one (about 46 billion hours worth). I too, had seen a lot of the movies, 5 of the best picture nominees (more than any year ever).

    I don’t care for the dresses or the pomp, but I do like critiquing the comedy of the hosts. As for Seth McFarland. Eh. Like a bad Whoopi, or a very off Crystal. Oh well. Can’t believe they cut people off in their speeches though…it seemed a little over the top and rude even by Hollywood standards.

  • Lindsey

    I, too, hadn’t watched in many years, but we saw this year’s. Actually, we might have skipped it (time difference issues) had a German friend of ours not brought it up. She’s NEVER gotten to see the whole show before and we had the means to give that to her. So a day late, we 3 sat in our comfy living room and predicted each winner (many of which I totally called). It was fun, and even though the headlines are calling Seth MacFarlane was hostile and sexist…I laughed. Is that wrong?

  • Ericamos

    Same here!! I can’t remember the last time I watched the Oscars, but I did this year. And surprisingly, a few days before, Greg actually expressed interest in watching them too! I was never too snobbish for them, but as a kid/teen, I used to get bored. However, this year, I wasn’t bored at all! Loved every bit of it. Even Seth MacFarlane. 🙂

    • Natalie the Singingfool

      Yeah, I would mostly tune out for the technical stuff in the middle & watch the juicy parts at the beginning and end. And even though Seth MacFarlane was sexist and offensive, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of it – like a bad car wreck you can’t look away from…

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