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by request: don't look now (nicolas roeg, 1973)

hate-watching the oscars

I understand why some people find hate-watching enjoyable. I’ve done it many times myself, and in the days before Twitter, I did it a couple of times on this blog with the Oscars. I’m not much of a participant any more … about the time I realized that watching Oscar-nominated movies just to “catch up” resulted in my seeing a lot of crappy movies I would have ignored otherwise, I also realized I didn’t much like watching the awards ceremony. Not that this is a surprise, since I’m not a fan of awards shows in general. Plus, the YouTube Era means I can see the good stuff (hello, Jennifer Lawrence) without sitting through entire shows.

But I get it. It’s fun to hate-watch, and there are plenty of things (especially on TV) that make no sense unless they are hate-watched. I’m just always behind on the shows I actually like, so I don’t hate-watch much these days.

Having said that, it’s great fun to read the various hate-watch tweets and blogs and live chats, much better than actually watching the awards. People seem to find their funny bones when talking about something that sucks.

There is one thing, though, that I don’t get. I understand people hate-watching the Oscars and wondering what, say, Kristin Chenoweth is doing on the red carpet, and then getting snarky about her. I understand being snarky when someone’s acceptance speech is unlistenable. What I don’t get, though, is why people seem invested in who wins these things.

Argo’s victory as Best Picture appears to have pissed off a lot of people. I’m not contesting those who didn’t like Argo … I liked it, about as much as I liked Cabin in the Woods, which is to say I liked it quite a bit, but I’ve read some good pieces on why Argo isn’t a good movie. What I find odd is that people get mad when Argo wins Best Picture over Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Django Unchained, or Zero Dark Thirty, or (god forbid) Lincoln. It’s the fucking Oscars … of course something like Argo wins Best Picture. When you think of the great films, do you think of The King’s Speech? Slumdog Millionaire? Crash? Million Dollar Baby? Chicago? Fucking A Beautiful Mind? The Oscars get it wrong at least as often as they get it right … this is not news, nor should we be surprised. It’s also my experience that many of the people who complain that the wrong movies won the Oscars are themselves fans of independent and world cinema. Their taste is broad enough that they expose themselves to a wide variety of films … why do they care what Hollywood thinks?

Oscar isn’t alone. The Wire was nominated for only two Emmys in five seasons (it never won), and no actor on the show ever received even a nomination. Chuck Berry never won a Grammy until they gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award. Mainstream awards given by the mainstream industry reflect what the mainstream industry wants you to like.

Maybe your Top Ten Films of 2012 list did not include Argo. Maybe it didn’t include any of the Oscar-nominated Best Pictures. Maybe you thought Cabin in the Woods was the best movie of the year. Maybe you thought The Turin Horse was way better than last year’s Best Foreign Film winner, A Separation. If so, you would probably enjoy hate-watching the Oscars. But if you get mad when your favorite movie didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscar’s, you’re giving the Academy more importance than you do the other 364 days of the year.

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