You may have noticed that you don't see much Oscar news at this blog, and don't fret, I'm not about to break that habit now. Quite the opposite, actually. In fact, I'm inspired to post about the little gold man only to point out a wonderfully angry post by the always-erudite Edward Copeland, who has weighed in with the reasons for why, this year, he'll be boycotting major awards shows like the Oscars, the Tonys and the Emmys. He writes:
If they no longer care about their own supposed status as prizes for honoring outstanding achievement in their respective mediums but instead have decided they really are nothing more than just once-a-year TV shows, three-hour or longer infomercials if you will, then I say fuck them. I can still love great film, great TV and great theater without having to be caught up with the nonsense of the various awards seasons any longer. No more predictions. No more surveys. No more speculation. Oscar, Emmy, Tony: You are all dead to me.
As someone who has long thought that the Oscars are pretty much worthless — and certainly not worth the massive amounts of coverage bestowed upon them by film writers — I really appreciate Copeland's straightforward dismissal of the awards season hoopla. It's always been the case that the Oscars have little to do with real quality, let alone art, and everything to do with commerce, with hype. So why do so many film critics and film fans care? What does Oscar truly add to film discourse? Every year, practically from December to March, the film blogs are dominated with conversation about the awards: who's going to be nominated, who is nominated, who's going to win, who should win, who did win, who should've won, who shouldn't have won, and oh yeah, who wore that lovely black dress that was just to die for. Amidst all this frantic activity, I can't help but feel that something is lost: namely, the focus on the films themselves, which is what it really should be all about. This is true even when legitimately worthy films are the subject of all this Oscar hype. If given the choice between a weighty, substantial essay about a film like No Country For Old Men or a debate over whether that film or There Will Be Blood should've taken Oscar's top prize, can you guess which I'd rather read?
Copeland ends his piece with an admission that he doesn't really expect anyone to follow his lead in ignoring Oscar. But I say, why not? This year, during Oscar season, instead of contributing to all the hype, instead of predicting who might win or debating between films like they were racehorses, why not just write something about a film or two? It doesn't have to be an Oscar-nominated film; hell, it doesn't even have to be a new film (gasp!). I guarantee you, though, it'll be so much more satisfying than adding to the endless but ephemeral buzz that these awards generate, swirling around like so much cocktail party chatter. This Oscar season, as usual, I definitely won't be at the party. Will you?