Did you watch the Oscars? Here’s why I didn’t

OK, that’s not exactly accurate. Just before I went to bed, my wife (who has far more important things to think about), after flipping  around on the TV for a while, said “Isn’t there something on like the Grammies?” And I, since I spend time on Twitter and follow people like Roger Ebert, knew enough to say: “It’s the Oscars.”

She expressed interest in checking that out and so we did. And we got there in time to see something I thought was pretty cool, as I Tweeted:

Wasn’t going to watch the Oscars, but must say James Taylor doing “In My Life” was pretty awesome…

For someone who graduated from high school in 1971, that’s kind of like a steak dinner at Pancho’s with all the trimmin’s: Sweet Baby James doing the Beatles (and one of John Lennon’s best compositions, at that).

By the way, if you like to see how a really smart and knowledgeable person watches something like the Oscars, check out Ebert’s Tweets. You’ll note that I used his overall story on my front page today — it’s more authoritative than any of the newspaper stories you were likely to see.

Anyway, after James Taylor’s bit I went to bed. Without knowing what won Best Picture, and without caring.

As to the other part of my headline: Why I don’t watch the Oscars.

There was a time when I did, avidly. I love movies, to a degree indicative of really messed-up priorities. As in, a man with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile. For instance, you’ll hear me quoting movies irrelevantly, seemingly at random. I love to read, have loved reading good fiction all of my life. But I think maybe movies are my very favorite art form. And yes, I know that’s kind of lowbrow, but it’s true. So be it.

Once, I used to go out of my way to at least see all of the movies nominated for Best Picture, and take an inordinate interest in which one won.

No more. My interest came to a crashing end in 1998, when “Shakespeare in Love” won Best Picture. That was the last straw.

I didn’t care that it beat out “Elizabeth” or “The Thin Red Line,” because they were both lame (especially that wretched adaptation of James Jones’ classic novel).

No, what got me was that “Shakespeare” was chosen over “Saving Private Ryan” (which sometimes makes my Top Five best pictures ever, depending on how I feel that day) and the wonderful “Life is Beautiful.”

Not that “Shakespeare” wasn’t fun. It was. As much fun as fluff can be. And that’s what it was. Worse, it was self-referential fluff. That was a movie for and about movie stars, transported to the 16th century. It made actors look cool, and fun, and clever, and way historical, meaning we should take them seriously. They adored it, because it made them feel great about themselves.

Which, come to think of it, is what the Oscars are about. Which is why I don’t watch anymore.

4 thoughts on “Did you watch the Oscars? Here’s why I didn’t

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Whoa–what’s wrong with liking movies, or being a film buff? Film is an art form, just like literature. Maybe not all movies, but then again, not all fiction is, either.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Not a thing. I thought I established my credentials in that regard. My favorite art form, and all that.

    What I don’t like is the Oscars, and what they show me about Hollywood off-screen.

  3. Brad Warthen

    By the way, back when I was a copyeditor at The Jackson (TN) Sun in the 70s, I became the papers’ movie critic on the side — purely as a labor of love (and so I could get reimbursed for the cost of the tickets).

    I reviewed the original “Star Wars” (probably my favorite film from that period), “All the President’s Men” and all sorts of classics…

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