Friday, March 03, 2006

The Psychology of the Academy Awards Audience

Luis Bunuel, one of the greatest filmmakers, says somewhere that the Academy Awards may be the world's only perfect democracy, because it is run entirely by idiots. (Being a member of the Academy himself, it was okay for him to say that.)

Here's a problem that may be as profound as that of the psychology of political correctness (see below). Every year at this time the web produces more top ten lists on the the most ridiculous oscar snubs ever grows and grows. Many of my favorite filmmakers never got one: Greta Garbo, W. C. Fields, the Marx brothers, Fritz Lang, Joseph von Sternberg, Orson Wells (for director or best picture), James Dean, John Barrymore ... most of them, come to think of it. (Democracy is so unfair!) Most people who are seriously interested in movies can tell a similar story.

That's on the one hand. On the other hand, I keep seeing articles in which people try to predict who will win the awards this time, and in some cases the predictions are based on claims about how good and deserving the films in question are. As if the awards are based on merit, and are not prizes for moral uplift and cronyism.

What gives? Above all, why do so many people watch the show itself? It's just a slow-paced variety show, with a small amount of suspense to spice it up. Why don't the ceremonies get the utter contempt that they have earned so many, many times over?

Its one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of life in this great Republic.

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