In the coming weeks there are two major events that will grip the nation for a Sunday night. The Super Bowl and the Academy Awards are two of the biggest viewing events that have moved beyond the realm of actually viewing the event.
While I’m not much of a sports fan, I’m well aware of the pull that the Super Bowl has on many people. It has long since transcended the level of any other sporting event that I know of, at least for the purposes of American audiences. No one just watches the Super Bowl. No one just wants to know the score of the Super Bowl. Anyone who is going to be involved in it is going to have to be part of a Super Bowl party; they have to be obsessing over the scores; they have been building an obsession for weeks now. At some point people picked a team, and now that team is life. I don’t really understand it, but it sure is motivating for people. And hey, you can even see some great, positive things coming out of this competitive Fandemonium.
The Super Bowl has even become an event for the things that interrupt the action. The Super Bowl commercials get more inspection than some aspects of the game. The halftime show is a huge event in it’s own right. This is clearly more than just a football game.
The Oscars have developed into a similarly transcendent event, although there are some differences. For me, the Oscars act as a sort of finale to the entire awards season. Most of the other awards don’t really carry the same weight as the Oscars. Sometimes you can use the other awards as a gauge for what might win an Oscar. It lets you start cheering for a film, or performer, or song, or whatever you’re in to. But the thing I’ve always noticed, is that the Oscars are it. Even if a film you loved didn’t win a Golden Globe or a People’s Choice, if it wins the Oscar, you feel like you made the right call when you singled it out (I’m personally rooting for the film “Ida” for Foreign Language and Cinematography). The other awards are almost like playoffs for the Oscars, but you could still have a hardcore dark horse win it all.
Also like the Super Bowl, the Oscars lend themselves to a type of party/ceremonial/celebration experience. There is a reason they have plenty of “pre-game” for the Oscars on the red carpet. I mean, I sometimes really hate the people that are talking to the celebrities, but it’s all part of the program.
In some ways, it is almost sad that these two more-than-just-events have to happen relatively close together. It makes the rest of the year (at least years without the Olympics) feel a little bit void of transcendent cultural participation.