Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Open letter the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
My issue with you, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is that you are sacrificing your biggest asset for the sake of a rating point.
Award shows are supposed to be elegant. They’re supposed to be glamorous. Or at least present the pretense of glamour. Attending your award ceremony is supposed to be a big deal. The message that glamour and sophistication sends is that your award show bears a certain degree of importance. And credibility. And respect. Now we all know that that is bullshit and people really tune in to see celebrities wear horrible dresses and stumble over the teleprompter. But at least the format needs to appear significant.
Ideally, for the home audience there’s a level of suspense. They care who wins. And when they see that not only do the nominees not care, but the host – who YOU select – tells the audience the awards are worthless you are tarnishing your already damaged brand.
You let your host shit all over you. And that’s just for starters.
A major pop singer is hired on a television show as a publicity stunt and you give her an award for acting? This doesn’t strike you as pandering for ratings? Last year Will Ferrell did a TV special where he played all nine positions in spring training games. You don’t see Major League Baseball naming him the Most Valuable Player of the Year.
Winners are telling you to fuck off during their acceptance speeches when the “wrap it up” music begins.
It doesn’t stick in your craw that you’re throwing this lavish party for an industry that has little regard for you? If anything, they’re using you. They’re using you to help generate buzz for the Oscars (the only movie award that does still mean anything to Hollywood), help promote their TV shows, get national exposure, and enjoy a lot of champagne and swag on your dime. And for that disrespect you’re HONORING them.
Do you think for one minute the Motion Picture Academy will invite Mel Gibson to be a presenter this year?
I love seeing self-important Hollywood assholes skewered as much as the next guy. And if this were a Friar’s Club Roast I’d beg Ricky Gervais to be the host. But it’s not. It’s your organization’s shining moment.
Now you could point to the small uptick in ratings and say you're doing the right thing and people think this is all a big joke anyway so who cares how you look? If anything, you're good sports. You're the nerd in high school who does the cute girl's homework while she sleeps with someone else, but hey, you get to sit next to her in Geometry.
Or you could make efforts to re-claim a semblance of respectability by re-thinking your approach. Do you consider your awards important? Okay... not important, no one actually thinks that, but let's say "worth something?" Harder to get than a People's Choice Award.
There is a line that can be drawn. You can needle without being offensive. You can poke holes in pretense while still maintaining dignity. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler proved that three years running. You can cut off some winner who tells you to go fuck yourself when he wants to continue a long pointless speech. It’s YOUR show. (That will put an end to that practice and trust me, your home audience will be saying “thank you!”). Don't give THE MARTIAN the award for Best Comedy over TRAINWRECK and SPY -- two ACTUAL COMEDIES. And don't nominate people for their sheer publicity value. Or let your host set a beer on the podium.
Actors will still make whopper faux pas. Some will still dress like Carmen Miranda. Every acceptance speech will have the following words: "Journey" "Artist" and "You can go to bed now." All that entertainment value will be there. We'll be talking about the fuck ups the next morning. That's all there. But if all of that is framed in the semblance of dignity, I think the show will carry more weight. Or at least some weight. Your ratings are not going to go down if people don't think your organization and awards are a big goof. And who knows? You might even get some legitimate respect in the industry. You're right. I'm pushing it. But they might take ten minutes to prepare a speech when you honor them for lifetime achievement.