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Virginia Postrel on How to Save the Oscars From Boredom & Annoyance

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Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former Reason editor Virginia Postrel suggests a fix to one of the most-watched, most-frustrating annual spectacles in Hollywood:

Hollywood stars still represent what Margaret Thorp, in her 1939 study "America at the Movies," called the audience's "escape personalities." They invite projection.

On Oscar night, that projection means enjoying the fantasy of individual triumph. (The Oscars famously don't recognize ensemble casts.) This is the essential glamour of the Oscar ceremony, and it explains why people complain so much about the speeches.

The audience wants to revel in the fantasy of being recognized as special, but social convention dictates that winners act humble and thank everyone else involved. It's fine to thank your mother, your husband, your high-school drama teacher—to recognize the kinds of relationships everybody has—but thanking your agent, publicist and half the cast and crew breaks the spell. Outside Los Angeles, audiences don't sit through movie credits.

So the cure for boring Oscar speeches isn't to shorten them—Julia Roberts's overtime gushing makes great TV—but to alter their content. Tell winners to celebrate their moment and save the industry thank-yous for ads in Variety.

Read the full article here.

Postrel recently sat down with Reason.tv's Ted Balaker to talk about how glamour operates in showbiz and politics, intellectual property rights in fashion, and more. Check it out:

NEXT: Reason.tv: Budget-Battle Showdowns Are Coming to a Statehouse Near You!

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  1. How to Save the Oscars From Boredom & Annoyance

    I have an idea: hand them the award then have some thug punch them in the face like that scene in Time Bandits.

    1. Mum, Dad it’s evil…don’t touch it

      Is Terry Gilliam still doing movies, it’s been a while?

      1. Yep. His last few have been great.
        Currently working on one, as a matter of fact.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…..on_Quixote

        1. “If I were creating the world I wouldn’t mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o’clock, Day One!”

          1. “I don’t make barrels to last two or three days, Fishfinger.I make barrels to last a lifetime.”

        2. @Neu

          I got excited when I read an article about Gilliam’s quixotic attempt to make his Don Quixote movie a few years ago. If he can get it done I have a feeling that it will be awesomely epic.

          1. capitol l,

            You should, if you haven’t, watch “Lost in La Mancha.” A great movie about Gillam and the project and all that has gone wrong.

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0308514/

            1. I will second the appendages up for Lost in La Mancha – it’s a great film.

        3. I have an idea: hand them the award then have some thug punch them in the face like that scene in Time Bandits.

          The scene in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=167IhlXnN2Y#t=1m18s

    2. I love baseball. Baseball is my escape from the bull shit that surrounds all of us, and when I click on Baseball-Reference the last thing I want to see is that fat bitchy pig Rosanne Barr looking at me. I understand guys that this is a business, but don’t be tone deaf to who it is your customers are. Our everyday lives are chalk full of big mouth bitches that know everything. From the ladies at work, to the bitch at the DMV, to the pig at the bank, or that cunt at the child support office. Sadly some of your customers are married to a big mouth bitchy cunt like Rosanne, and those guys are the ones that really need the escape. I wanted to mention that it’s not just women now days that are big mouth bitchy cunts, there are a lot of men out there that have lost their masculinity and look, speak, and act like a bitch, and if you’ve ever been trapped in an office for 8 hours with one of these 2 ball bitch queens that are popping up more and more around the country then you’ll understand. No, I’m not talking about homosexuals, many of these 2 ball pussies are married, but about 5 or 6 years ago they started to walk like a woman, and they have bubble butts and they sashay when they walk and they are married to Rosanne Barr types and they brag about their wives. And don’t call me a woman hater, put a picture of Sarah Palin with a Snickers bar, or a picture of Charo’s big tits holding a Snickers bar, or maybe the girl from Dukes of Hazzard, but not Ellen from the Ellen show. Please do us a huge favor and get rid of the stupid bitch Rosanne Snickers ad on the home page.

      1. Oookay… I think that only HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN is capable of replying to that.

        1. or Hercules Deviated Septosis…

      2. Tom Arnold? Is that you?

      3. …………………./??/)
        ………………..,/?../
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        ………\……………..’…../
        ……….”…\………. _.??
        …………\…………..(
        …………..\………….\..

        1. I love baseball. Baseball is my escape from the bull shit that surrounds all of us, and when I click on Baseball-Reference the last thing I want to see is that fat bitchy pig Rosanne Barr looking at me. I understand guys that this is a business, but don’t be tone deaf to who it is your customers are. Our everyday lives are chalk full of big mouth bitches that know everything. From the ladies at work, to the bitch at the DMV, to the pig at the bank, or that cunt at the child support office. Sadly some of your customers are married to a big mouth bitchy cunt like Rosanne, and those guys are the ones that really need the escape. I wanted to mention that it’s not just women now days that are big mouth bitchy cunts, there are a lot of men out there that have lost their masculinity and look, speak, and act like a bitch, and if you’ve ever been trapped in an office for 8 hours with one of these 2 ball bitch queens that are popping up more and more around the country then you’ll understand. No, I’m not talking about homosexuals, many of these 2 ball pussies are married, but about 5 or 6 years ago they started to walk like a woman, and they have bubble butts and they sashay when they walk and they are married to Rosanne Barr types and they brag about their wives. And don’t call me a woman hater, put a picture of Sarah Palin with a Snickers bar, or a picture of Charo’s big tits holding a Snickers bar, or maybe the girl from Dukes of Hazzard, but not Ellen from the Ellen show. Please do us a huge favor and get rid of the stupid bitch Rosanne Snickers ad on the home page.

          1. You know that the ads are targeted right? The computer knows what you want to see even if you are afraid to admit it to yourself.

            Hence the angry manifesto.

            1. What does it mean, then, that I see no ads at all?

              1. You, like the rest of us with ABP, are a nihilist.

                1. Whiteness is golden.

                  1. This house intertubes is clean.

            2. I have a cute woman with a Citrix / “Go To My PC” ad, and an ad for Atlas Shrugged: The Movie – opening April 15, 2011.

              April 15? Who says Objectivists have no sense of humor?

        2. …………………./??/)
          ………………..,/?../
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          …………./??/’…’/???`??
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          ……..(‘(…?…?…. ?~/’…’)
          ………\……………..’…../
          ……….”…\………. _.??
          …………\…………..(
          …………..\………….\..

          Did you do that with a Commodore 64?

          1. Aw c’mon man, who doesn’t like ascii art?

      4. Please,I only speak two languages, English and Bad English.

  2. Maybe I am having a Pauline Kael moment here, but I don’t know anyone who watches awards shows*. Anyone here into this stuff?

    *That’s not entirely true. My friend’s exgirlfriend would be all like “Oh. My. God. Did you watch the Oscars last night?”, and I would be all like “no.” WTF

    1. I watched the Oscars in 1993 and 1989. That’s been enough to give me the overall flavor of the event.

      I also watched the Grammys once. I think Christopher Cross won.

      1. That was before the hip-hop scourge – you are forgiven.

        1. Christopher Cross may be the only act worse than hip-hop though.

          Not forgiven.

          1. Anyone with Cross as a last name has got to be a christ faggot. I also believe Rush (King of Rednecks) is a fan of his as well. Good call, shriek.

          2. I thought Kris Kross was a hip-hop act.

            1. Christopher Cross is the Daddy Mac. Uh huh Uh huh!

    2. The awards are nothing but a bunch of self involved narcissists patting each other on the back for doing what they are paid hamsomely to do. Most are useless for anything ese, but think they are qualified to make political judgements as if they really had a clue about anything but memorizing lines.
      To hell with all of them

  3. I didn’t even go to my own graduation. Why would I waste time watching any other a-hole get handed something they didn’t really earn and isn’t actually worth anything, either?

    Maybe I would watch if the awards weren’t predetermined but settled the night of the ceremony, after an orgy followed by a fist fight, and the winners finally chosen by a coin toss.

    Meh, probably not even then.

  4. Calculon: 400 categories and not a single nomination for me.

    Zoidberg: But you won this Golden Globe!

    Calculon: Piffle! That’s the Emmy of movie awards!

    1. I used to love Calculon. Until I found out that The League of Robots was a sham.

      1. You can never stop loving Calculon. Or Hedonism Bot.

        “That was so terrible, I think you gave me cancer! I don’t care how popular you are, you will never work on my show!”

        1. But then he hires him anyway, right? It is my favorite “show”. It is something me and my two sons can agree on consistently. That and most of Adult Swim. Where we part company is Beavis and Butthead, Southpark and Metalocalypse. Not for me. go ahead, call me stupid, asshole, whatever. I’ve heard them all.

          1. You’re a stupid whatever asshole. South Park is great. Beavis & Butthead was pretty great back when it came out, but even then you needed to be a little…altered…to really enjoy it. I know Warty will try and rape me for saying this, but Metalocalypse does little for me. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t care.

            1. My sons know me. One would hope so by now, they are 22 and 30 for god’s sake. But they will force me to watch a few of them when they are around. I have to admit, the Christmas one where the animals try to kill Santa [if I remember it correctly] was pretty funny.

            2. Your raving about South Park and Bevis and Butthead tells me more than I ever wanted to know about you.

              You are what you watch. Those shows are crap.

            3. Beavis & Butthead was pretty great back when it came out, but even then you needed to be a little…altered…to really enjoy it.

              Being from Albuquerque, being about the same age as Mike Judge, and knowing the real life Beavis and Butthead (I swear, they lived on my block in Albuquerque), I would love to give the show props…local boy does good and all…

              But, aside from the initial short, the show was just not funny. At all. No amount of drugs could save it.

              1. The show wasn’t very good. The videos, and the comments on the videos, were good. Without the videos, it’s worthless.

        2. You can never stop loving Calculon. Or Hedonism Bot.

          Well, you can stop loving Hedonism Bot, but good luck getting invited to his next orgy.

          1. Are you trying to advocate human/robot love? That’s where I drw the line.

            1. “for” and “draw”

            2. Poor rac, you’ll get over Eunice some day.

              1. I was happy to hear about season 5 coming out. Then I heard the storyline to the “Susan Boil” episode, and thought it sounded moronic, so I didn’t watch the show, fearing the worst. I finally broke down recently, and I’m glad to have been wrong.

            3. “Everywhere I looked, there were piles of bodies! And then the explosion struck.”

  5. Virginia Postrel on How to Save the Oscars From Boredom & Annoyance

    Terminate with extreme prejudice?
    Really, who with a triple digit IQ gives a crap about the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes or Grammys?

    They bored me when I was ten and maturity has not led me to greater appreciation of entertainment industry circle jerks since.

    1. Really, who with a triple digit IQ gives a crap about the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes or Grammys?

      None, but that still leaves 200 million American viewers.

  6. Turns out the super-quick resignation of Rep Chris Lee had a better reason than his infidelity – he was also hunting for trannys on Craig’ List.

    http://gawker.com/#!5769037/the-craigslist-congressman-and-the-crossdressing-prostitute

    I’d like to see an awards ceremony for Congress.

    1. HEY SHRIKE!!!

    2. That is a disapointment Shrike. I think it would be hysterical if true. But sadly all Gawker has is some random tranny who claims to have responded to an add that looked somewhat like the guy. And the add is gone, except for a headling on google cashe. Sorry, but it seems like something only the nitwits at Gawker could believe, which is sad.

      1. Except that Lee resigned three hours after they broke the story.

        1. He resigned after it came out he was cruising for women. This story just came out.

          I would like to believe this story. But I don’t see how they have any proof it is true.

  7. Never cared about this either.
    I usually stay for the credits, though.

    1. it’s the commercials that are my favorite.
      did you see last years with that ad for national lampoon’s take on Jackson’s LOTR. nearly coughed up a lung when the trailer show Rosanne Barr as Grond…
      or was it Micheal Moore… Micheal has the beard, right?

      1. I never watch the Oscars, I meant that I stay after movies for the credits.

        That is pretty hilarious though.

        1. National Lampoon? Are they using Bored of the Rings as source material?

          That was a great book, although it was written in ’69, so it’s got some pretty outdated references.

  8. I don’t know anyone who watches the Oscars.

  9. How to Save the Oscars From Boredom & Annoyance

    Nominate Banksy and see what happens?

    1. A second-rate vandal who thinks his trendy left-wing politics are profound because they’re just a hair trendier and leftier than everyone else’s? He should fit right in at the Oscars.

      1. Rich people suck. For the children!

        I am so avant garde.

      2. We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves. – Banksy

        1. Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world, I can’t even finish my second apple pie. – Banksy

          1. I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being ‘good at drawing’ doesn’t sound like Banksy to me. – Banksy

            1. I am so avant garde. Down with capitalism!

              1. It could be argued that Banksy’s target is not capitalism, but the shallow political discourse which rules the day in today’s media environment.

                c.f., the Simpson’s opening he did. If you think that was a critique of capitalism, you lack a sense of irony.

  10. The Academy tells all nominees as a matter of policy to do just what Postrel says – and they ignore it in droves because not Thanking your mom and the thousand other people who worked on the film after you win an Oscar seems a rather bit gauche.

    Social Network wins best picture – I mean seriously – not a bad film but very very very forgetable. Fingers crossed for True Grit.

    1. Joe Pesci had the best acceptance speech:

      “This is an honor. Thank you.”

      Seriously, that was it.

      1. Brando had the best one by not showing up.

        1. never send a white man, when an Injun’ll do…

  11. Remember when this magazine was uphill and we all had subscriptions? You can thank the woman who was editor back then.

  12. It would be more entertaining of the winners had to perform a scene from the performance they won for instead of making a speech.

    1. Whoa, you mean, like, if they actually did something entertaining? That’s too crazy man, expecting entertainers to entertain.

      1. Plus, it means they would have to prove they can actually act. On a stage, without a crew to edit out all the bad takes.

        1. Now you’ve really gone to far. You’re just trying to make Julia Roberts cry. You monster.

          1. Joan Crawford: Which eye?

            Cliff Robertson, her co-star in “Autumn Leaves,” even recalled with amazement that she would ask “which eye” a director wanted the tear to come from.

            http://www.filmsofcrawford.com/id126.html

            1. Who knew, Julia Roberts is a Bene Gesserit. Color me amazed.

          2. Julia Roberts is a stupid cunt

          3. I made Shelley Duvall cry. I got it on tape. Wanna see it?

  13. Also, I would much love to cut out the stupid performances and jokes from the host. All except possibly the original song performances.

    Get the host to shut up and minimize the extraneous material. Oh and cut the rigamorale that always surrounds the various lifetime acheivment awards.

  14. Have every nominee write down all their thank-yous ahead of time and turn them in. When someone wins, they are limited to three verbal thank-yous. The rest will scroll across the bottom like a CNN news scroll.
    If someone breaks the rule, the orchestra starts to play Beethoven’s 9th while the Thank-you scroll is terminated forever.
    Then we can hear mostly mindless speeches instead of mindless thank-yous.

    1. Maybe they can start the oscars a couple of hours in advance of the broadcast, and everytime some actor goes over time, they just speed up the playback so they talk like mickey mouse for the rest of their thankyous.

      1. It’s called a “DVR” Hazel.

        1. What’s the point of recording the Oscars when you can just read the results online?

          I don’t watch the show for entertainment, I watch it to find out who won.

          Well, actually, I don’t watch it.

  15. I’m wondering, does anybody download The Oscars on p2p services? Kinda betting the answer is no. Which just validates my belief that it’s totally a waste of time.

  16. How can you have a discussion of Natalie Portman without discussing her song?

    P.S. Great interview Ted.

    1. I had never seen that. It is teh awsum.

  17. Walter Matthau was the absolute best Oscar.

    1. He was good, but he couldn’t touch Oscar The Grouch.

  18. Have they gotten to the Oscar for “Best Product Placement in a Slasher Flick” yet? I hope the Husqvarna chain saw wins.

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