Oscar, it’s not the winning, it’s the taking apart.

Growing up, Oscar-time was a special time in my relationship with television. We would never leave each other’s side until the night was through. As the names were read out, teasing clips supporting the nominees candidacy would flash across the screen. A glib aside here, a self-depreciating moment there, and then after the golden envelope had been fumbled, you would learn if the admission ticket you bought was somebody’s else’s favourite too.

Me now, as compared to then, I see things differently. In fact, like a burnt lover, I’m not sure if I can look Oscar in the face anymore. Their’s is a story I prefer to hear afterwards from a close friend who knows us well. As the veil of childhood was drawn back like a cinema curtain, grown-up ‘truths’ invaded my cinema fascination in an unwelcome cavalcade of PR, pundits, and saturation TV campaigns – all advancing opinions, and in doing so, making Oscar a lover I’ve tried to avoid ever since.

Back in my youth, Oscar brought me flowers. Oscar brought me small chocolate boxes of confectionary information, where I never knew what I was going to get. Now he knocks on my retina like a wearisome ex, trying to rekindle an interest with yet more adverts, more tracker banners, more hurrah and hoopla, whose only reward is a news-cycle set to “spin”.

...Politics not performance will take centre stage before the lights even come up and the twitter feeds melt down.

This year, as in common with others, politics not performance will take centre stage before the lights even come up and the twitter feeds melt down. The shadows of actors’ former pasts, their poorly chosen quotes and racial inequality will again chequer a chess board where all the pieces are still predominantly white. Any quieter advances in tone and opinion, those not draped in national sentiment or nostalgia, will be quiet voices in the room.

Because on Sunday night Price Waterhouse’s twin auditors will soon start their alternate drives to the ceremony. Like valets shielding popular opinion from Oscar’s clandestine voters, the sealed conclusions they carry will probably vary from the just to the unfair. Was it ever different? Maybe not. Oscar doesn’t change much these days. He’s still as contrary he ever was. Maybe it’s just his charm that has run a little thin for me and that childlike quality of shining a light on a strong story or a break-through performance has faded out under a number of other multi-million dollar considerations.

Will I be watching? Like the lovelorn ex that I am, I can’t turn away. Even before he opens his mouth, you pretty much know what Oscar’s going to say, it’s just the order that will be different. That said, nothing would make me happier than to be proved wrong. Fingers crossed for ‘Moonlight‘.

Mark Esper

0