Why sobriety and award shows suck
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 26, 2014
The viral video of Johnny Depp slurring his words and swaying on stage at the Hollywood Film Awards reminded me that the only reason we care for award shows—i.e., other people’s success—is when in the process of acknowledging their success they embarrass themselves.
When I was younger, I would admire the prestige of award shows. Now that I’m old enough to live vicariously, I barely have time to acknowledge my friends’ successes through Facebook, let alone watch an award show for people I haven’t even heard of. Most often I hear about these events afterward when something controversial happens like Miley Cyrus dancing or John Travolta reading poorly. Depp’s intoxicated spiel reminded me that award shows are the perfect environment, not to celebrate the accomplishments of those who are “better” than us, but to ridicule them openly.
The culture of raising someone high and then throwing them down is one that Hollywood does best; it’s tradition and it’s sacred. Award shows of all calibers are jokes. True, once in a while someone deserving wins and it’s super inspiring, but those moments are rare. There is nothing inspiring about watching some actors read the teleprompter or some show-biz folk read a list of names to thank. That’s not impressive. Watching Depp flub his way through an introduction isn’t impressive either, but it is entertaining.
I propose a change: we should stop treating award shows as these hoity-toity variety shows, but instead make it an all-round party—a Big Brother-style show that follows the nominees, presenters, honourees, and attendees throughout the night as they mingle, drink, win, and/or lose. They can dress up if they want to in fancy who-you-wearing garments or they can wear whatever they wore while rolling out of their limo-bed. I don’t want to see celebrities sitting and smiling politely. I want to see them getting into arguments, I want them trying to impress others, I want to see them sweat during awkward silences. Yes, I pretty much want them to go through the social experience we all have when we attend parties and networking events, but I want it televised. Get them drunk and get them talking; let the viewers join the party. Fuck the ceremony!
Wouldn’t it be great to see Depp drinking and chatting up Matt Damon or Cuba Gooding Jr. before walking on stage to embarrass himself? Think of the 100 other things that happen in an award show that go unnoticed just because they didn’t happen on stage. There are so many opportunities to acknowledge that celebrities and rich successful people are just like us: one drink away from doing something stupid.
Winners get their trophies and viewers get what they want: celebrities in a glass box. We are going to do it anyways, so instead of focussing in on just one troubled actor, why not focus on them all. If we are going to laugh at one, why not laugh at all of them? What’s the worst that could happen—we empathize with entertainers a little bit more?