Twenty-four hours ago, I didn’t even know it was the night of The Oscars. But when I found out it was on, I giddily went upstairs and turned on the television, even though I hadn’t watched most of the films and that I probably wouldn’t recognize most of the stars.
I was a little late, but I was so happy to see Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer. I didn’t recognize the third host, but quickly liked her.
With any awards show, I expect to be sporadically entertained, sometimes moved and occasionally annoyed. I expect to be intrigued. What I don’t expect is to be triggered.
Furthermore, I don’t expect actors – people who spend a significant portion of their lives on camera – or trying to be on camera – to be triggered.
Backing up a bit: My first memory of The Oscars is when a streaker interrupted the ceremony. It was 1974 and I don’t remember much about it because I was only five years old. But I’ll tell you this: That streaker is the reason I still watch awards ceremonies. It’s been nearly 50 years and I have yet to witness another streaker. Streakers are my Great Pumpkin.
Here’s what I have observed over the years: profanity, actors stumbling over lines or steps, “legends” not as lucid as they once were, wardrobe malfunctions, stunning fashion, ho-hum fashion, exorbitant amounts of cleavage, sleek tuxedos, missed dance steps and late entrances.
Most of all, I’ve observed deft camera work. How many times have I seen cameras cut to unamused actors, overly amused actors, emotional actors, deadpan actors, respectful actors, surprised actors, rebellious actors? In other words, I’ve seen the camera cut to actors.
This brings me to the other reason I watch awards ceremonies: the actors’ reactions. Even though I suspect the reactions are rehearsed, premeditated, predicted and discussed, I enjoy the reactions. In other words, I enjoy the performances.
I am not rich. I am not famous. But I know what it’s like to be in public when my personal and professional stakes are high. I know what it’s like to be upset about something personally but still have to go in public and put on a good face. I mean, don’t you?
I’ve known for years that I don’t understand or appreciate roasts. Even poetry slams are too much for my tender heart. So here’s the deal: I don’t go to them. And if for some reason I attend, I sit in the back. I sure as hell don’t sit in the front row where the public, the people onstage and the camera all have eyes on me. Because, like most artists, I acknowledge the tempest in my teapot and take care not to let it out in public. Period.
So last night’s violent outburst shocked me. Was it really about one man’s family values? Was it really about saying “enough is enough” when it comes to being mocked and teased? Was it really about the pressures of being successful and visible?
Or was it about an entitled millionaire who let the tempest out of his teapot? And was that the first time he ever slapped someone in the heat of the moment? I highly doubt it.
And now what? Wait for public responses? Calculated apologies? Lawyers? Interviews? Cancel culture? For the tempest to be woven into the carefully curated cloth that is entertainment? This is the part that sickens me the most – the waiting, the knowing that this is what will take precedence in popular culture, exaggerated cruelly by social media.
But of course, I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to give it any attention. But I knew I had to write this to find some peace. Ten minutes ago I felt upset and even sad. Now I feel fine. But maybe it’s time I give up the ghost about awards ceremonies and streakers.
Hey, thank you for reading. I really do feel better now. -Connie