The Post-Meta Academy Awards Experience
I can’t name more than a half dozen Oscar winners, be it films or actors or directors, from the last twenty years. I have never watched an awards show, except for a year or two of drunken weakness in my early twenties when I managed to watch the MTV Movie Awards two years running. That reason alone should probably be reason enough for Dustin to fire me and delete all articles I’ve ever written from the system. Burn out the taint, such as it is.
Every year, most American televisions tune into the Super Bowl, and half the people watching insist that they’re just doing so for the commercials. And the actual football lovers either glare at everyone walking between them and the television, snarl at the well-meaning ignorant who ask “are you rooting for the blue team or the white team?” or just gave up years ago and watch the game at home, alone and in blissful peace.
The Oscars are a lot like that, with the spectacle swamping the substance. It’s an awards show. The stated literal purpose of it is to announce awards. There is no process to it on display, we don’t see voters deliberating or arguing with each other, see a debate presented over who should win. It’s just a single page of results being read publicly over a four-hour span by exceptionally well-dressed individuals. It’s an event that exists for the spectacle because the substance wouldn’t take more than ten minutes to get out of the way, and half of that would just be watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s face to see if he’d end up crying in the end.
Of course, I read Courtney’s live blog of the Oscars every year, because it’s entertaining as hell. Last night, I had that open on one screen while I played video games on another and watched reruns of Leverage on the television. It’s ritalin’s world, we just live in it. But that gets to the really weird phenomenon that’s growing denser with every year of social media. The median age of actual viewers of the Academy Awards is rising (above 50 for the last few years, up from 40 back in the early nineties) even while the hype and discussion of the awards grows online.
See, the way we interact with reality is becoming more layered, I think. With an infinite selection of entertainment, and an infinite selection of people talking about that entertainment, we’re no longer faced with a dichotomy of watch or don’t watch. Go to the Oscars? Ha! Watch the Oscars? Ha! Listen to commentary on the Oscars? Ha! I’m about four levels deep in this, going full Inception by exclusively reading a writer’s observations about an event they themselves are watching on television.
But it’s more than that, more than just a selection of who reports the facts. Every layer through which the words pass is another layer of added interpretation. The layers themselves are not transparent, and so with enough of them, the original content is a hazy memory through the opacity. And now you’re reading an article talking about people talking about the Oscars, which adds yet another layer, which means we have officially gone full meta.