Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived an actor. And an actress. Many of them, in fact. These cinema folk created multiple worlds and multiple realities for both themselves and those of us too lowly to enter the bubble that was Hollywood.
People speak of old Hollywood, of Carey Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, of MGM and Universal, as though it were a mythic place filled with god- and goddess-like people. Those who populated the Hollywood of old became more than mere humans to those who watched their performances on screens across the country. They became legends. Icons. Untouchable.
But we on the outside soon learned that believing in such places and investing such people with such heavy importance would only leave us disillusioned by their humanity. They were people. Just like us.
From the start, however, we saw fit to honor these stars with various awards for their work. They entertained us and took us away from the lives we were so willing to leave behind, if only for a couple of hours, and for that we saw fit (through various boards and guilds) to reward them for the accomplishment. Thus became the Golden Globes. The Oscars. The Academy Awards.
For sixty-eight years, actors and actresses have been awarded golden statues for their work. They have walked the red carpet in dresses and tuxedos designed to make the rest of us envious and swoony. They have attempted humility upon accepting their awards, knowing that it could just as well have been someone else. And we have watched, enamored, drawn to the mythical land that once was Hollywood.
Eventually, however, the novelty wears off. Old stars burn out, and new stars take their places. These stars have access to Twitter. And Facebook. They are not afraid to put themselves out there in honest and misguided ways, making their private lives not so private, lending themselves to spectacle and speculation. Politics, sex, marital woes, and children are no longer considered off limits by the stars or those who hound them. A story is a story, all the better if the subject gives it freely. Old Hollywood glamour has become a thing of the past, a myth in Americana.
Through it all we continue to applaud and award actors and actresses for their work. Award season comes and goes every year, bolstered by the pomp and ceremony with which it was vested so long ago. It is the last embodiment of Old Hollywood hanging on tenuously in the ever-changing entertainment industry.
This year’s Golden Globes saw the traditional red carpet. Viewers oohed and ahhed over the dresses, and once again we were reminded that actors are people too, albeit well paid and somewhat removed from reality. But the show itself seemed disorganized, unrehearsed, and lacking in overall glamour.
Stars were out of breath as they gave their acceptance speeches and met with confusion upon attempting to exit the stage. Teleprompters failed to accomplish the task for which they were built. The humor and merriment seemed forced at times, a reminder that while many of them can act, most of them cannot write. Jokes and references to the economy fell flat with viewers who were incredulous regarding the proximity of those in attendance to the economic woes that are reality to so many of us. What, we found ourselves asking, do these people know of economic hardship today?
In a time when most of us are jaded and disillusioned regarding most other aspects of our lives, when we find ourselves looking more than ever to television and movies as an escape, is it too much to ask that those frivolities that have remained so constant over the years continue to do so? For many of us, watching the Golden Globes or the Oscars gives us something to smile about. It reminds us that there was a time when Hollywood was a truly glamourous place to be. When it is cheapened by poor organization and cheap laughs, uncomfortable chuckles and feigned merriment, we no longer have that sense of wonder that makes Hollywood seem so dream-like. It becomes just another place, the actors just other people. What then? Where will we seek escape and relief from the norm?
What will we do when Hollywood and everything in it ceases completely to be a bastion of entertainment and creation? To what will we turn when we can no longer cling to the idea that glamour still resides there?
What, more importantly, will happen to Oscar?