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The Oscars: good thing or bad thing?

The Parthenon

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:01

The first two months of each year are a horrible time to go see a new movie. A quick look at the films on tonight at Marquee Cinema in Pullman Square shows a handful of films that barely managed a 5/10 stars on the Internet Movie Database alongside a few holdovers from last Christmas.

The Academy doesn’t want you to see any new movies this time of year. Not so close to The Academy Award ceremonies. It seems strange that the worst time of year to enjoy watching a movie is the best time of year to enjoy watching about a movie.

Movie releases adhere to a strict schedule designed to coerce you into watching them. Comedies begin to pop up in early March. Action blockbusters start the first few weeks of May running through most of the summer. As school starts, films aimed at older adults hit the theatres. Eventually a myriad of Halloween themed horror films debuts in the last weeks of October before a few weeks of down time. Then come the films that are destined for Academy Award nominations over the last six weeks of the year.

Since that Academy is made up of the same actors, directors, and executives that make the films destined for greatness, it’s no wonder that all the good movies stop coming out just in time for you to tune your television for every outing in the never-ending series of award shows. Especially for the Oscars.

Living in perhaps the most prosperous Democracy in the world gives Americans a sense that our input is critically important in deciding important issues. Discounting The Peoples’ Choice Awards, however, the award shows are a glaring exception. Around this time every year I decide I am going to ignore the Oscars. This must be a childish whim or momentary impulse, because just like every other American (or at least the ones on Twitter), I end up glued to the television set for my annual dose of The Academy telling me what I should and shouldn’t like.

Despite feeling like I am being spoon-fed what is and isn’t worthy of watching or listening, I continue to tune in for The Oscars, The Grammys, and the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards because I feel like I would be a little less connected to the real world if I didn’t. Exactly how The Academy wants it.

As you’re watching the award shows these next few weeks and admiring how awesome Jennifer Lawrence, “Lincoln”, and “Argo” are, remember that you are simply reflecting the choices that The Academy already made for you. Remember that Academy has already rewired what your brain finds acceptable with last year’s show. Take comfort in the fact that at least they seem to have made acceptable choices – maybe. And remember the words of Steve Jobs:
“The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a depressing thought. … But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.”


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