A Place for Your Oscar

Josh Hadley

josh hadley | the shadows of pop culture | march 2019

Awards are meaningless. Hell, there is an award show for awards shows, that right there should tell you just how meaningless awards are, and yet we all continue to apply this arrogant and belabored high standard on what awards mean when in fact they are actually just hollow praise.

Phantom prestige ceremonies such as the Academy Awards are nothing more than a deluded daisy chain of meaningless posturing meant to elevate an industry. Awards are ego stroking which serve only to propagate even more ego stroking in an endless cascade of nothingness. It is a perpetual cycle of uselessness signifying nothing despite all of its bluster and bravado ... sound and fury amounting to nothing as it were.

Awards are given not on merit of work nor on quality of product, awards are given merely as an achievement to the best-marketed product, and as happens these days, on cultural impact in spite of the marked blandness of the product in question. “Black Panther" and “Get Out" are examples of this. These movies are "culturally significant" and despite both being bad movies, the Oscars fall all over themselves to celebrate mediocrity. Meanwhile, quality films that do have cultural significance such as the best movie of 2018, “Sorry To Bother You" is all but pushed aside.

Let's look at the Oscars and see just how rigged they are when it comes to these "awards." Do you really think that the "Oscar Committee" hands out those statues of false pomposity based on the standards we, as the public, are privy to? How the Oscars work is the same as anything else, they are bought and paid for, maybe not with money up front, but most definitely with money being spent to impress and adulate. The Oscars go the most "campaigned" films. How you get a film nominated for an Oscar is simple, you advertise that you want the "nomination," you send gifts to the Oscar Committee, you give them special screenings of the films, you let them meet the stars of the film, you basically wage an ad campaign on them to tell them that you are the best in whatever category(s) you want to "win." It's all playing a game, you can't just havethe best picture; you need to convince them that you have the best picture. Rest assured, every studio and every filmmaker is making the same pitch, it all just comes down to which one can sell it the most convincingly.

There's a reason "art house" films made by studios are held until the last minute to qualify for an award. These films don't make any money but the studios want that "prestige picture" to help give credibility to their mindless schlock. That is why you have "Oscar rush" at the end of every year, with films that get a one or two-week theatrical (limited) release as a footnote to the year. They want that award and they will do what it takes to get it. The filmmakers go into sell mode like the best door-to-door salesman. Make no mistake; this is all about image and not about substance.

There's a stigma when your film doesn't have an award. In the same manner that the masses believe sales and dollar intake are equal to quality, award status will carry weight it should not. Nominations without a win can be just as damning. If you have been nominated and lost to a clearly inferior product that will impact you.

Genre also influences a film's award chances. Just looking at the Oscars, many horror films have won major awards? A handful. How many dull, boring, pretentious period dramas have won major awards? A staggeringly high number. Sci-fi? Only in recent years and rarely for one of the major categories. A film such as “Silence of the Lambs" was not marketed to the Oscar Committee as a horror film; it was presented as a "suspense thriller" all of a sudden. In the buildup to the movie, they were fine calling it a horror film, being showcased in the horror magazines. When Oscar time rolled around, “horror" was a dirty word as they do not win these kinds of awards. This is a movie about a cannibal – who literally eats a face in the film – that is helping the FBI track down a sexually confused serial killer who is attempting to make a woman suit made of human skin so he can indulge in a fantasy of a gender change. That is a horror film by any standard. It's the same as Friday The 13th or a Texas Chainsaw film, but if you call it horror, there will be no major awards. Dilution is the only option.

Awards are all the same; they're given out in an effort to add status and stature to the mundane, to elevate a mediocre work by claiming it is award-winning. Why we give so much credibility to awards baffles me. I keep getting asked, "What are your Oscar picks?" As if quality mattered, it's all about salesmanship and popularity, nothing more. It has always been like this and no matter how much light is exposed to the dark underside it will not change. The award will always go to the most well marketed and the most shamelessly shilled work and the award will continue to have meaning to those who desperately wish to posture and preen by way of bragging. Touting your "award-winning" status is bragging and I have no use for braggarts in my company. Do the best work you can and the quality of the work will shine through.

A fiercely confrontational and arrogant critic whose stubborn nature makes him immanently readable and equally angering, Josh Hadley is a writer for magazines such as Hustler, Fangoria, Paracinema, Shadowland, Grindhouse Purgatory and Cashers du Cinemart, as well as a radio host on Jackalope Radio. Find more from him at 1201beyond.com, a website that only the most anti-social personalities would engage.

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