I don’t know about you, but I’ve been addicted to the Oscars ever since I was a kid.
The reasons I love the awards have changed as many times over the years as there have been hosts for the ceremonies, but they remain very special to me.
Originally, it was the glamour that drew me to the tiny black and white screen in my parents’ living room. It must have been that, since I was way too young to have seen the movies that were up for awards. I didn’t know Ernest Borgnine from Marlon Brando way back when.
By my early teens, I got to know the stars by watching movies on TV whenever I could. There was “Million Dollar Movie” on a local New York City TV station, where one movie played for an entire week, every day of the week, several times a day. I watched James Cagney in “Yankee Doodle Dandy”—two or three times a day—day, after day, after day. It was literally a movie marathon station, only there was just one movie each week. Almost every weekend, I babysat for my younger brother and couldn’t wait for him to fall asleep and leave me in peace to watch NBC’s “Saturday Night at the Movies”—my other learning aide.
In college, films became more important to me than movie stars. I began to appreciate great direction and sat watching the awards with a list of my own picks each year. By the late 70’s, I was working in fashion marketing and foresaw the marriage of fashion and entertainment long before “Extra” or “Access Hollywood” aired. I knew in my gut it was just a matter of time before “who wore who” was what people would be talking about. Now, the awards begin at two in the afternoon with pre-“Red Carpet” coverage, and we’re bombarded with commercials for hours before the actual ceremony begins. It’s just Super Bowl Sunday for an entirely different audience.
These days I watch the Oscars for many reasons other than the mere spectacle: I watch to be elated by hearing the name of a winner I believe has done good work and has been suitably rewarded.
I watch to see what I’ve missed during the past year at the movies and to see what I might actually want to pay to see. I’m a sucker for the “In Memoriam” section, and remember how Steve and I would turn to each other in unison and say “Aw! I didn’t know he/she died.” He indulged my passion for the show as it became increasingly self-indulgent year after year. Sure, I still enjoy the glamour, the fashion, the celebrities (there are so few real “movie stars” anymore), and hope there will be a decent joke here and there. But there’s something I enjoy more now than ever.
It seems to me that since the AIDS crisis affected the motion picture industry enough for the ubiquitous “red ribbon” tribute to be sported on lapels and evening gowns alike twenty years ago, humanity is making an ever-increasing appearance at the awards’ podium. (The “red ribbon” was conceived by a design group, aptly named Visual Aids, in 1991.) In 2009, white strips of ribbon tied in a knot in the middle were worn by some, to show support for same sex marriage—“tying the knot.” Happily, we are seeing more and more openly gay winners at awards’ ceremonies thanking their same sex partners.
Celebrity sponsorship and stewardship of charitable organizations is flourishing.
From clean drinking water, to feeding the hungry, to the environment, the Red Cross, various United Nations’ agencies and AIDS to name a few, movie stars are spending their time as well as their not insignificant monies on cause after cause. Which brings me to OUR cause—caregiving in general and family caregivers in particular. Caregivers represent the largest number of parties “affected” by illness that I can measure. We care for our elders, our children, our spouses, our friends. We are not paid. Our lives can be impacted for weeks, years or decades. Our ranks are growing daily and I for one have made awareness of the caregiver’s plight helping in any way I can my cause célebre.
So this year, as I watch winner after winner called to the stage, and hear them making their acceptance speeches, I will take special notice of the acknowledgement and appreciation they show their own unsung heroes—their husbands, wives, children, partners and parents—those who have helped them on their way to be awarded for their excellence. I will watch to see stay-at-home champions get recognition before an international audience of millions. Family and civic values are alive, well, and evolving.
It is my dream that in the not too distant future, caregivers will get the recognition we so well deserve, and the help we so desperately need.
Oh, and feel free to forward to any celebrity looking for a worthy cause that you may know! : )