I suppose I resisted publishing a blog for a long time because I didn’t want to appear arrogant, but I might as well face the truth about myself–that I’m as conceited as the millions of bloggers worldwide who think they have something to say that anyone would be interested in reading. Why do this except to find a public outlet for the incessant verbiage I direct at myself as I go about my day? So without launching on an apology that would sound hollow I’ll just warn you that many of my posts will be essay-length rather than short bursts of inspiration. Oh, well…
I was watching the Oscars this weekend as I do every year, a guilty pleasure in the pomp and pageantry of flouncy skirts, low necklines, and back-patting that Hollywood indulges in annually; and again this year as in the past I could not reconcile myself to the central absurdity of such award ceremonies–that although one can make judgments and evaluations about artistic expression, it is fundamentally impossible to decide which is better among excellent performances/productions, etc.
I mean, what criteria does one use to decide that Sean Penn’s performance was better than Frank Langella’s, given that each of them played a different character? Isn’t this a question of judging apples and oranges? Can we actually say that one was more intense than the other? Or that there was an evaluative difference in the way each of them “inhabited” his character? I mean other than a subjective “I was more moved by this one over that?”
Why, for instance, was Heath Ledger nominated as a shoo-in for his performance and Ayush Khedekar, the kid from Slumdog, not even considered? When Ledger stuck his head out of the car with that crazed grin and heady embrace of the wind as his vehicle careened through the streets of Gotham was it really a more transcendent moment than Khedekar’s excrement-covered, triumphant march through the slum towards his movie idol? Did it count for nothing that this kid from the sewage delivered a nuanced performance that was as expressive in its range of emotions and as skillful as anything a seasoned actor would deliver? The point is that there’s no real way to tell which is Better!
So popularity, politics, money (bushels of it), and shameless promotion amid cries of “it’s his/her/their time this year” are what determine the winners. I guess I should just accept it for what it is and move on–tinsel town purring praise on itself! Of course, I could also throw into the mix American Idol or Figure Skating or Olympic Diving or anything else that seeks winners based on flimsy, subjective criteria–yes, skating and diving, for all their putative “objective” standards, are doomed by definition to be subjectively judged!