Five Dollar Post: The Exception to the Rule
March 5th, 2010

It was not two weeks ago that I got up on my soapbox and said that we shouldn’t judge.  Oh, what a hypocrite I am today.

I suppose, as is the case with many rules, there is an exception to this one.  I was right; we shouldn’t judge… each other.  (Sure, celebrities are people too.  And Jennifer Garner shouldn’t be subjected to the castigating daggers of Perez Hilton and other blights on humanity every time she wants to take her little girls to the playground.  (Luckily for her she has stunning bone structure.))  But the exception clause to the “don’t judge” rule most certainly applies to that once-a-year judge-fest that we like to call The Oscars. 

Like the willowy celebs themselves, my position stands on two legs.

First, the whole event is about judgment.  Scores of people voted on which movie, actor, actress, director, sound editor, best boy grip, and craft services vendor was THE BEST.  So it’s not like they’ve gathered together for a group hug and Honorable Mention trophies.  There are winners and losers on Oscar night.  The participants are prepared for this.

Secondly, they’re prepared for this.  There are days when celebrities try to masquerade as normal people, and this is not one of them.  This isn’t grabbing lunch with a girlfriend or coffee after yoga class.  This isn’t picking kids up from school, clothes up from the drycleaner, or the dog up from the groomer.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the single biggest red carpet event in the world.  Basically what I’m saying here is: these people know exactly what they’re walking into. 

They know full well that Joan Rivers, Steven Cojocaru, Giuliana Rancic, and the incomparable (I kid!) Billy Bush will harpoon their every sartorial misstep over glasses of bubbly the next day (while secretly toasting a society that cares enough about this stuff to permit their making a living by doing what amounts to a cross between prom-night gossip and Monday-morning quarterbacking).  The celebs know this is coming.  They’re ready.  They’re armored in Vera Wang, Harry Winston, and Christian Louboutin.  They’ve brought their A game.  (Unless, of course, they’re Bjork.)

And this is why on Oscar night I quite shamelessly take the low road.  Like my sister, I take superficial pleasure in Oscar night.  I comment on whose attempt at reinterpreting “flapper chic” works, and whose doesn’t; whose cleavage is perfect and whose is gratuitous; who achieves something altogether otherworldly, and who looks like a hot mess.  I make note of which acceptance speeches are witty or touching, and which are self-serving and filled with drivel.  And most importantly, I place about 378 phone calls to my sister so that we can emulate the banter we shared as teenagers, huddled up with popcorn in the den of our childhood home.

I will concede that Oscar night doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in me.  Quite frankly, my time could be better spent.  I could read thought-provoking literature or engage in challenging conversation.  But as Aidan so aptly pointed out earlier this week, we need some time in the shallow end of the pool.  We need the freedom to cast aside our fractured thoughts and pondering questions.  We need the silly and the playful as an antidote to the serious and the solemn. 

For me the Oscars are one such antidote, and I’m waiting eagerly for their red carpet arrival this weekend.

8 Responses to “Five Dollar Post: The Exception to the Rule”

  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Cheers to spending Oscar night – and many others – in the shallow end! Life is too short to be flailing in the deepness and darkness all of the time, right? Thank you for the great post and generous link my way.

  2. Eva @ EvaEvolving Says:

    Well said, Gale! Awards shows – and all the judgment that inherently comes with them – are part of the job for celebrities (to continue my theme from yesterday’s post, “Do your job”). With any job or lifestyle, there are tradeoffs.

    I love celebrity gossip, but I hate it at the same time. I find myself visiting the usual websites often for photos, rumors, quotes, insights into the celebrity life. But I hate that our society values celebrity and teaches us to seek our 5 minutes of fame. Such a difficult paradox.

    I’ll be watching the Oscars on Sunday, trying not to be too cynical, but admittedly laughing when a professional actor can’t show enough poise to read the teleprompter and properly introduce the next category. (Poor Felicity Huffman at the SAG Awards, anyone?!)

  3. Anne Says:

    Oh Eva…I know! Felicity Huffman is a smart woman! Why was that so difficult? But of course…I couldn’t do it either. Anyway, I SO love the Oscars. And I SO love a good gab-fest. This year, I have a conflict which will cause me to miss the red carpet…very distressing. Gale–I expect full reports!!!

  4. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    I love Oscar night! Not the actual telecast, but the red carpet crawl. I grab a glass of wine and the phone, and my best friend and I rip everyone to shreds. Ah, good times.

  5. Nicki Says:

    I will be wading in the shallow end this weekend also!

  6. Rudri Says:

    I revel in Oscar Night and I am guilty of judgment as well. We can’t take everything in life so seriously. Have fun watching! Love the post.

  7. becca Says:

    Oh yes, the shallow end is what makes this night fun, for sure. I can’t wait!

  8. Tom Taker Says:

    Is there any other industry that pats itself on the back more than entertainment? Isn’t having all the money and celebrity enough? Sheesh!

    In my line of work you’re considered lucky if you get your paycheck every week.

    If we celebrated ourselves in my office even half as much I can only speculate what kinds of categories we’d have. “Longest streak without a paper cut.” Or, “Best improvised lie to a customer.” Maybe even, “Best customized streaming music that interferes with productivity.”