Oscar is still a man, man, man, man world

By SCOTT SAALMAN
Guest Columnist

The Academy Awards airs this Sunday.

I love movies. I even enjoy keeping track of the winners of the various award shows leading up to the Oscars. What I don’t like though is actually watching the Oscars. I just look at the winners’ list online the next morning, happy for the extra sleep.

I once watched the Oscars religiously, but the older I got, the more the act seemed like self-inflicted torture. Three-plus hours of watching attention-starved movie stars applaud one another. We “normal” people, however, doubt their sincerity. In particular, we distrust the on-camera reactions of the losing nominees who have just witnessed the award’s presenter open the envelope and announce, “And the Oscar goes to Meryl Streep.” The losers then have to “act” happy for Meryl Streep, exhibit their best award-losing smiles for Meryl Streep, vigorously applaud Meryl Streep, even unleash a Nile River of crocodile tears for Meryl Steep (happy tears, happy tears) while the cameraperson awaits the cracking of their facial facades. They only stop smiling and applauding when realizing Meryl Streep wasn’t even a nominee. That’s how great Meryl Streep is. All she has to do is be in the building to win. Oscar should be renamed Meryl.

The whole actor / actress distinction is silly really. I often wonder why the Academy doesn’t blend the Best Actor and Best Actress categories into one category. (Same can be said for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories.) Just make the individual performance competitions coed. Five men and five women battle it out for a solitary statuette. Why not? No gender has a physical advantage over the other when it comes to acting. They are thespians, artists, not football players. Desegregating the categories would actually make the Academy Awards more interesting — and shorter due to fewer speeches. This idea makes total sense until I realize that only one out of nine movies in the best picture category was directed by a woman this year, yet again another reminder that Hollywood lacks equality and is still a Man, Man, Man, Man World. Suffice it to say, no man wants to lose to Meryl Streep.

I can also do without the political rhetoric at the Oscar podium. The podium represents the finish line for whoever perseveres in their respective Oscar race. Isn’t the fame and fortune that comes with standing behind the sacred podium sweet privilege enough? And speaking of the Oscar race, apparently there really is one: white.

Thespians, spare us your politics on Oscar’s stage, save it for your interviews — people can learn about your righteous causes (as worthy as they likely are) the next day. Maybe I feel this way because there’s not a political bone in my body. I have conservative friends. I have liberal friends. I make my own grownup decisions without any group influence. To me, the shameless usage of Oscar’s stage to espouse your political views would be as shameful as me using this hallowed Herald space to recount (which I won’t do) how on Dec. 27, 2018, I paid it forward for a Hispanic family in line behind me at McDonald’s, personally footing their $34.07 bill. One smiling child looked to his mother and asked, “Is this a Christmas gift?” I replied, “No, I’m just apologizing to you for our president.” Behind my new friends, gasps and hisses ensued. The ire of those how-dare-you people made me feel good, for their disapproval over what I said had unwittingly delivered to me a random act of kindness.

How torturous are the Oscars? Let me share this Guantanamo-based document (thank you, Freedom of Information Act) that I uncovered while painstakingly doing research for this column.

KUBRICK: Soldier, are you telling me that prisoner K2X5 still won’t give us names?

CONROY: Sir, we treated him like a human Origami project and slid him into one of those tiny boxes of wooden matches. Still not a peep.

KUBRICK: So now what?

CONROY: Waterboarding.

KUBRICK: What did you say, soldier?

CONROY: Waterboarding, sir!

KUBRICK: Louder!

CONROY: WATERBOARDING!

KUBRICK: Now, say it slower.

CONROY: Waterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrboardiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.

KUBRICK: Again.

CONROY: Waterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrboardiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.

KUBRICK: God, I love the sound of that. Do you want to feel the goosebumps on my right arm, soldier? Say it one more time just so my left arm can catch up.

CONROY: WATERBOARDING!

KUBRICK: Scrap that idea. The prisoner already had his daily waterboarding today. Besides, I’m worried about your pruned fingers, soldier. I wonder if there’s a medal for that.

CONROY: Sir, what if we incessantly and loudly play disturbing music to deprive prisoner K2X5 of sleep?

KUBRICK: Hell yeah. Break out the Kenny Chesney!

CONROY: Unfortunately, sir, that means we’ll all have to hear it too.

KUBRICK: Bad idea.

CONROY: Sir, how about subjecting him to extreme heat or cold? Or we can stop caring for his wounds? Hey, there’s hooding. Or binding his—

KUBRICK: Say, soldier, aren’t the Oscars Sunday?

CONROY: Yes, sir.

KUBRICK: Perfect. We’ll prop his eyes open with toothpicks and make him watch the whole show. He’ll be telling us secrets that he didn’t even know he had.

CONROY: Sir, no, sir. I morally cannot do that to another human being. I mean, what kind of monster do you take me for?

KUBRICK: Twenty bucks says Meryl Streep wins Best Original Score.

Contact Scott Saalman at scottsaalman@gmail.com




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