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The Idiot's Guide To Oscar Frustration: 5 Reasons To Shut Up & Stop Complaining About The Academy Awards

by Edward Davis
February 25, 2013 1:30 PM
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“‘I'm not watching the Oscars next year’ says everyone who will watch the Oscars next year,” one of us joked on Twitter this morning, but it’s a pretty apt summation to the perplexing perpetual love/hate relationship many have with the Academy Awards. “We’re relieved to hear that everyone says ‘The Oscars Don’t Matter’ aren’t watching the Oscars tonight,” was another quip we made yesterday evening before the awards and again, it echoes the same sentiment. And we don’t really get the frustration that comes from the audience, those in the industry, those who cover movies and hell, even some of our own team members.

Yes, lord knows we all bitch and moan about something (including The Playlist) and those who care about and love film and cinema (presumably you and our site and its contributors) often have genuine concerns, issues, grievances they need to voice, sometimes rather vociferously. But the time and energy spent by those complaining about the Oscars seems silly and wasted considering what the Academy is, stands for and represents has hardly ever changed in its 85 years.

And mind you, we're not defending and or even championing the Academy Awards, but once you understand what the awards are and aren’t, perhaps you’ll get less worked up about it. If you recognize the Oscars as industry-created celebration of the industry, its members and its peers, maybe you'll realize why Oscars are never worth getting that upset about. Frankly, there's a zillion reasons why there's little point in complaining about the Oscars. Many should be obvious and self-evident, but here goes with five reasons you should shut up and just enjoy the Oscars for what they are and give up hoping for something they never were in the first place. "Painfully obvious" you say? Hell yes, but then why do the majority of people -- including some Oscar bloggers who should know better -- continue to gripe? I suppose we could consider this a 101 entry point for babies that have never experienced the Academy Awards before.

1) Arts & Sports Are Not The Same Things (Duh) 
Yes, we love to treat art like sports in our culture by declaring a "winner," because we all love the drama and excitement that narrative brings, but obviously they are two completely different things. Awards where art has to has to compete against itself is inherently shallow which is reason #636532 you should take the Oscars with a grain of salt and just chill. You cannot qualify “best” in art. The concept of “winning” and “losing” in art is ludicrous. Art cannot compete against each other the way sports teams can, so the concept of “better” is abstract and subjective and then therefore rather meaningless. You should already know this on a fundamental level. Understanding this is key in why you should never be upset by the Oscars (or Grammys, etc.) 

2) It’s Subjective, Dummy
It's incredibly strange how Johnny Paycheck and Joe Beerswill know the definitive answer of what's "best" about art. Yes, the Academy Awards are voted on a body of members, but each of those members are voting subjectively to come up with a consensus and collective winner, but does that discredit what you think is best? Of course not. But then why are your undies in such a twist? “Rust & Bone” and “Tabu” were two of my favorite movies of 2012 and neither was even represented at the Oscars. That doesn't affect or diminish the impact it had on me. Some pundits and commenters are already crying that "Argo" is too safe, too middle of the road, but what if someone else loved it? Is their opinion “wrong”? Does it overrule yours? The point is our experience and relation to art is subjective and that's what makes art so special and powerful. It's not something actively defeating another piece of art. It's experiences we all share and all have different reactions to. Just as the Academy members do. And still knowing all this, you're still bitching. Just remember that those who generally claim Oscars are "bullshit" are the same ones saying from time to time "The academy finally got it right!" when their favorite films are nominated or win.

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  • Derek | February 26, 2013 4:56 PMReply

    Give US First Lady, Michelle Obama, a special Oscar for the best delivered presentation speech of the evening - then get all the Hollywood actors into a class and explain that comedy often falls flat on its face if there is no editor to trim and adjust the timing - and there ain't no editor around during a live Oscar broadcast. Rather than having lame attempts at comedy, spend more time showing the behind the scenes artistry of the nominees' work - which was often glossed over at lightning speed.

  • pluiedenovembre | February 26, 2013 3:20 PMReply

    Well said :) I think the only time I got upset was when Titanic won. Other than that, I'm happy when an actor/actress/movie/director/script I like wins and I try to enjoy the show. Sometimes the nominees/winners help me "discover" new movies and actors I've never even heard of and that's always a wonderful thing. I like movies, I enjoy the Oscars, but I have no stake in the outcome so there's really no point in getting upset about anything.

  • droop | February 25, 2013 4:30 PMReply

    wow what a horrible piece of journalism

  • Alex | February 27, 2013 3:15 AM

    Before using big words like "journalism," look it up in the dictionary first and see if it applies. What an imbecile.

  • PERK | February 26, 2013 4:09 PM

    Where? I don't see any journalism around here.

  • Dryer | February 25, 2013 4:22 PMReply

    Great points but your just playing the devils advocate for the sake of material. True in the end it's childish to waste energy on something which in in reality is completely immaterial. But there's no reason for Argo to have won Best Picture, except for the old voters in Hollywood to self congratulate themselves as a whole. There was no reason for Christophe Waltz to have won Best Supporting Actor, it was the same one note bit rehashed from Inglorious Basterds. Cinematography for Life of Pi was practically post production, how is that better than Deacons real time artistry in Skyfall. Tarantino hardly wrote the best original screenplay, it was a greatest hits compilation at best. Brave is in the same boat; Pirates, Paranorman, even Frankenweenie were more admirable picks. What differentiates this year from previous shows, is you could look at the list of winners and take something from their achievement. This year was nothing more than just setting a fire just to watch it burn, and that's why people are complaining. It's nothing to do with simply the choice, but the lack of validity behind them.

  • Edward Copeland | February 28, 2013 3:00 PM

    Again, who wins is just the plurality subjective opinion of the Academy members. Moses has not brought these results down from the mountaintop on stone tablets. There are no right or wrong opinions when it comes to assessing artistic endeavors. Your opinion that Christoph Waltz shouldn't have won and that Roger Deakins deserved to win cinematography are right but so are those people who preferred Waltz's performance or Life of Pi's cinematography. There is no objective measurement for a movie or a performance's worth. It isn't a fact such as saying the sun rises in the east or 2+2=4.

  • hank | February 25, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    thanks for clearing that up for me. what an enlightening article.

  • Traci R. | February 25, 2013 3:08 PMReply

    And these are all the reasons I don't even waste my time watching or caring. Give me the results in the morning. I'll glance over them casually allowing myself to be mildly impressed or surprised by a few and then go back to doing what we all have the capacity to do ourselves--watch and judge the quality of movies. Rocket science it is not.

  • Alex | February 27, 2013 3:16 AM

    Oh stop it. You do care enough to give it attention, read an article about the event, and take some time out of your oh-so-productive day to actually post a comment.

  • Edward Copeland | February 25, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Bravo! You nailed almost every point I've been screaming at people losing their minds throughout this Oscar season such as people who liked Argo when it came out but transformed it to one of the worst choices Oscar ever made by last night and a virtual twin to Crash, separated by seven years, because Ang Lee won director both years while his films didn't get picture. Never mind that most of these people hadn't been remotely pulling for Life of Pi before Lee won director. The Oscars are a glorified opinion poll and, for most of my life, have been a thoroughly enjoyable parlor game. Unfortunately, Oscars + Internet = Madness. I'm just glad that I got past being emotionally affected by what happened at the Oscars when I was a teen -- long before the Web ensnared the silly awards.

  • brace | February 25, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    Oscar and the entire awards season is fun - people talk about movies, predict who's gonna win, who's gonna be nominated, what are the long shots.... it's fun. but many people take it all too seriously. I don't believe in such a thing as best movie or performance... I don't even have one or ten (or any specific number of) favorite movies. I was never able to make a list of my favorite movies ever and that's why I don't like them. and honestly I prefer annual awards like Oscar (despite what I think of their choices) than Sight&Sound's list of the best movies ever - I find that way more un-arty. best ever!?

  • Ben Pearson | February 25, 2013 2:23 PMReply


  • Christian | February 25, 2013 1:48 PMReply

    Excellent article! Really, really appreciated reading it and agreed 100 %.

  • Andrew | February 25, 2013 1:38 PMReply

    The Academy Awards, like any major institution, will always get undeserved criticism. There's just no avoiding it. I love the show for what it is. I've never watched one and thought, "This'll be the last one for me." Have I been disappointed on occasion? Obviously. I guess what I'm saying is the oscars have been around for 85 years, millions of people tune in every year. At the end of the day, the academy doesn't give a shit about what you think.

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