Ever since the COVID lockdowns started roughly 12 months ago ago, there have been people saying that we should cancel all of the big events that usually define the year. Sometimes, the argument has been that it’s just simply gauche to celebrate or indulge in sort of distraction while the world is suffering. Other times the argument has been that doing anything other than staying inside and feeling miserable will lead to a superspreader event. Over the past 12 months, there have been efforts to cancel everything from football and baseball to Halloween and Christmas.
My response to these efforts has always been to proudly yell, “No! People need some sort of normalcy, now more than ever! Traditions are important and we all need something to look forward to. The show must go on!” Even though I’m not into football, I was happy that the regular NFL season went forward as scheduled. I was happy that, even with everything going on, there was at least a Super Bowl. Even though I’ve never cared that much about the Emmys, I was still glad that they made it a point to hold some sort of ceremony. And when it comes to Oscars, I’ve been looking forward to them for a year now. The show must go on, right?
Indeed, ever since the lockdown started, I’ve been saying that the show must go on. It’s a belief in which my faith was unwavering.
Until last night.
Last night, I watched The Golden Globes and, as I’ve already said on this site, it was an amazingly depressing experience. While I knew that the Globes would be different this year and there would undoubtedly be a few awkward moments, nothing could have prepared for me for just how terrible last night’s show truly was. The entire show felt weird and creepy and vaguely dystopian. Even the jokes about the HFPA’s lack of diversity and the nominations for stuff like Music and Emily In Paris felt less like speaking truth to power and more like officially sanctioned dissent, delivered in smarmy fashion by officially approved messengers. It felt like watching a carefully rehearsed roast of a corrupt politician, where all of the jokes are carefully written so that the subject of them can later say, “See, I can laugh at myself!” in between looting the treasury and putting dissidents in prison. It was depressing not just because it reflected what’s currently going on in the world but also because it seemed to indicate what we had to look forward to in the future.
Awards show have always been vapid, of course. For the most part, the humor has always been smarmy and self-congratulatory. (There’s a reason why Ricky Gervais will probably never be invited back to host another Golden Globes ceremony.) The political statements have always lacked self-awareness. The winners have often been regrettable. But, in the past, we could at least focus on the glamour. We could distract ourselves with the clothes and the hair and the gossip. There was no glamour last night. There was just an overwhelming blandness.
Traditionally, the Golden Globes are the “fun” awards ceremony so, if the Golden Globes were that bad, can you imagine what the Oscars are going to be like? The Oscars, after all, are the staid and, at times, painfully formal ceremony. If the Globes represent your shady, self-destructive, but always unpredictable uncle, the Oscars represent the rich uncle who awkwardly shows up at the annual family reunion out of a sense of obligation and who never seems to be having as much fun as he should. (That said, you’re still always happy to see him and you know you’ll miss him if he ever stops coming.) If the Globes were that depressing, it’s frightening to imagine the depths of despair to which the Oscars could potentially descend.
It’s enough to make you wonder whether the show must really go on! I mean, technically, there’s really no need to have a big Oscar ceremony. The show gets terrible ratings, with less and less people watching each year. In fact, it’s only a few of us awards fanatics who really care about the ceremony. One could just as easily post the names of the winners online and then everyone could just upload their acceptance speeches to YouTube, where people like me could watch the speeches we care about and ignore the rest. At this point, even those of who love the show understand that it’s rare that the best films actually win. The appeal of the Oscars is not really to be found in the results of the contest. Instead, the appeal of the Oscars has always been the glamour of the ceremony. If there’s no glamour, what’s the point? One could just as easily take the money that’s usually spent on the ceremony and instead donate it to the communities that are still recovering from last month’s winter storm.
It’s a legitimate question. Must the show go on?
Despite the way that I found my faith wavering last night, I still ultimately think that the show should go on. I still believe that, psychologically, it’s important to have some sort of normalcy. I think that if the world could survive the lack of good Super Bowl commercials, it should be able to survive the Oscars. But, seriously, let’s hope that the Oscar producers learned something from last night’s disastrous ceremony. Let’s hope that the producers give some serious thought to what went wrong for the Globes and that they make an effort not to repeat the same mistakes. Somehow, the Oscars have to keep glamour alive. They can’t repeat the mistake of the Golden Globes of allowing themselves to just become a tepid zoom conference call. The Oscars are many things, both good and bad. But they should never be depressing.
This year, Steven Soderbergh is one of the Oscar producers and, while I’m not really a huge fan of some of his more recent films, I think he does understand the importance of glitz and glamour. (Let’s hope we get the Ocean’s 11 Soderbergh as opposed to the Soderbergh who makes self-indulgent Meryl Streep films.) I’m looking to you, Steven Soderbergh, with hope in my eyes. Don’t let me down.
Because, in the end …. THE SHOW MUST GO ON!