For the first time in years, I watched the Oscars tonight from start to finish, including the pre-show. I was tremendously amused by the question, on everyone's mind apparently, because they just kept asking, "Who are you wearing?" I think that is a question we should all be asking ourselves.
There was a time when I watched these Oscars religiously as a disciple, carefully studying for the day when I would walk those steps and make those speeches. I was not hungering for the red carpet or the fame, but for the same thing for which I still hunger today - the chance to be a part of that group of people who use their whole brain for a living: the creators and contributors to the BIG ART of our time. I wanted to use all that God gave me in service to the BIG STORIES of our people and our time. Yet, when I began to explore this world a little, I discovered that much of what is required is a god forsaken compromise of the best things I felt led to say, and most of what I really was. That and, well, the shoes.
With all that I love, I think most of what I hate about the world of entertainment can be found on the red carpet. Man after man struts up in who cares what suit/age/weight and is applauded. Woman after woman teeters precariously on the edge of a pin heel, strapped and starched and laced and beaded, to be evaluated critically by a bunch of fashion fruity snipe hounds. If I were one of those beautiful women who had spent weeks of her life preparing for this big event in a breath defying dress, only to be torn to shreds and stylistically de-frocked like Cinderella at 12:01, I doubt I would have the charity left in me to create another thing. I would spend the rest of my days like the Phantom of the Kodak Theater.
That's another thing I know now, that I did not know then. I have been at the Kodak theater lots of times. I have stayed in that hotel. I remember it as the place with the confusing elevator and the parking lot where I lost my car and got rescued by a handsome security guard. I remember it as the place with the good pretzels. It was not glittering and tempting when I was there. We were in the green room with all the pictures and on the stage with all the memories. It was just sort of interesting, not life changing or affirming. Mostly I was sort of surprised about how much smaller it was in real life than it appears on T.V.
Which is another thing I struggle to accept about the Oscars. There is no acceptance of women who look as though they have consumed Oscar Meyers. (We are NOT what we eat, apparently). This year even the writers were thin! Queen Latifah, the token fat woman, is hardly rolling down the carpet. Objects on TV appear much smaller than they are in real life.
And what of the talent? Why, oh why, oh why, with so many singers in the world, would they hand all that music to a handsome man who can not sing or keep track of the complex melodies of a gifted composer? Why, oh why, oh why, with all the comedians out there, were we forced to hear the pinched attempts at wit by the very handsome and loveable Hugh Jackman? I love his charm, and I wanted him to succeed so I suppose that means he succeeded. I am sure everyone else will say how wonderful he was. But I am here to testify that I have heard many obscure singers and comedians who could sing and dance and joke circles around that guy! But well, it was like having one of your cute uncles/cousins show off at a family reunion. He is OURS, America, let's love him...only wait, he is not ours. It seems "ours" is not so "ours" any more. And that is another thing that I noticed...the Great American Melting Pot is simmering away. I like it. The fight for acceptance and diversion is on full throttle. Now, if we could just include more fat and old and handicapped people I would just say, "vive le difference" and call it a day.
It is good to see what Hollywood thinks and to see what they think we should think. I am glad I am mature enough to know that it is not necessarily what I think, or think I should think. I remember a time before I knew how the Academy worked when I felt those awards were the marker of truth and justice in all things creative. I am glad I know better now. So when I think about the Oscars and ponder the question, "who am I wearing?" I will probably come up with an answer closer to the truth than anyone on that carpet today. I am wearing a misshapen, older version of who I consider the real me - but it's comfortable and well, realistic. For all my faults and frustrations, I like being able to answer that question with my own name. Nobody gave me this gown, nobody will take this gown at midnight, and my fans and detractors have been forced to love or loathe the me I am, not the one I play on TV.
Sour grapes? Yes, I eat those too. If the shoe fits I will wear it boldly (as long as it has a supportive heel), but it feels more like a look to what might have been with the maturity to take in the whole picture. Yes, I could have had a V8, (as the commercial goes) but I am allergic to tomatoes. So I guess that is the part they never tell you on television...and until I make friends with V8 and celery I need not apply.