Swearing you’ll never watch the Oscars again is almost as big a tradition as watching them.
It starts out well enough, with an hour or two of beautiful people on the red carpet, the opening monologue, be it a Rob Lowe-and-Snow White-size debacle or a perfect zinger, like Neil Patrick Harris’ “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest,” followed by the most histrionic clips from the nominated films.
But then the first winner takes the stage, and the whole thing comes to a shrieking halt as she or he tremblingly unfolds that dreaded, sweaty acceptance speech.
This year, I’d like to make a humble plea to all the actors who will take the stage Sunday: For the love of God, leave the thank-you list at home.
The eyes of the world are upon you. Your job isn’t to entertain the audience at the Dolby Theatre, who’ve gathered to celebrate themselves with an orgy of high fashion and air kisses, but the 35-million viewers here and the millions more worldwide devoting their entire night to this bloated affair.
Truth is, roughly zero percent of us know or care about your agent, publicist and “all the amazing people at [fill-in-the-blank] studio.” You can thank them later — send a card, a fruit basket or take out a full-page ad in Variety, if you can afford it (I bet you can). Just don’t drone on and name them all while the world watches, bored out of its collective mind.
As far as your family’s concerned: Nobody cares. You may think it’s adorable to tell your kids watching at home to go to bed, but it’s not. It’s really not. Oh, is your spouse the most important person in your life? Lovely, but deeply boring.
Just know this: When you start naming names, we get up to refill the guacamole bowl or hit the bathroom.
Here’s what we would like to hear and see from you. One good anecdote, well told. An impromptu F-bomb or two. Tears (if not the crocodile variety). Spazziness, if it comes naturally (Roberto Benigni has set this bar pretty high). Vague intoxication (ask Sarah Silverman for a bit of whatever she’s carrying in her purse, or sit near Jeff Bridges). A heartfelt thank you to one person who meant something to you or to the film. An impassioned rant (see Patricia Arquette’s plea for wage equality). A dazzling, tone-deaf display of narcissism (tied for top honors: James “I’m the king of the world!” Cameron and Julia “I love it up here!” Roberts).
Anything, really, as long as it’s not a laundry list of names.
I think I’ve come up with a perfect solution. Hollywood, outside of the group at the Dolby on Sunday night, consists mostly of aspiring screenwriters. You likely know one or two or 50 yourself. Have one of them write you the perfect acceptance speech. Emphasize brevity. Pay handsomely.
And you just might find yourself at the top of the Oscars coverage the next day, which is where we all know you’re dying to be.
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