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…