Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Fever and the Need To Be Cool

No doubt as I type this post, people all over the US and perhaps all over the world as well, are sitting down to watch the Oscars, the night when Hollywood comes out to salute itself and let everyone else in on how the stars act, what they wear, and who they think will and should win. Don't get me wrong, I love the Oscars, and while I don't generally watch them, it's fun to see which actors/technicians and films walk away with awards and why.

This year however, as irony would have it, I got a little different look at the awards that fit in quite nicely with my little project here. A friend of mine has been nominated for an award and as a result I was allowed a little inside look at the goings on beforehand, namely, the hospitality suites.

For those of you who aren't in "the industry" as So Calers call it, hospitality suites are set up all over town the week before the Oscars and their sole purpose is to put expensive stuff in the hands of Nominees in the hopes that they will where/use them, and we, the unsuspecting public, will want to wear/use them so that we can be like them.

I only went to one suite as it was more than i could handle, but here's how it went. We showed up at the Lux hotel on Rodeo Drive and headed up to the Penthouse where about 12 tables were set up, each with a different designer. I don't really know much about these things, but there was a designer jean company, Cartier watches, designer hand bags, a spa in the back where you could get "oxidized" and a manicure, coffee bars, champagne bars, three seperate designer jewelry tables, and a ton of other stuff.

The nominee (and his friends mind you) walk around and express interest in something and if they like something, the folks behind the table work out getting it to them for the Oscars (sometimes to use, sometimes to keep). It's really quite amazing. Here are a few of the tables.

Truly amazing stuff. Of course for most of us, this stuff was off limits except for looking, as they all want these things to be going to the Academy Awards, not Uncle Bens Bean Cookoff. Fear not though, for everyone else (I declined but had to argue out of it) recieved bags with the goodies below. I'd guestimate that they were worth about $700-$800 at least. Here's what they had:

This is everything in the bag. Some closeups of favorites below.

This was one of the odder things they had. I forget what it's called but we were very specifically shown it and told that this is a mens cologne that was made specifically for one of the passengers on the Titanic and is quite expensive. Apparently smelling like a drowning victim is quite in vogue these days.

A really impressive amount of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (whihc I have to admit I ate a few handfuls of while we were there cuz they had them out in bowls).

Fiji water, facial cream and a Porsche gift certificate with a map of LA inside. The map folded out pretty cool and much to many nominees surprise I'm sure, illustrated that there is indeed a subway system here.

T-shirts, gift certificates for designer jeans, facial cream, candles, spa gift certificates, Porsche driving gloves, nail polish, and a weird gold thing that i couldn't figure out what it was.

G String underwear (of course), coffee, cocoa, hand cream, a weird pink alcoholic drink, and candy.

And everybody's favorite in the orange box, a wristwatch that is basically a small computer. Video, mp3, phone, appointments, web, you name it. I asked the guy at that table what they retial for and he told me they were about $400. Amazing.

Now if i sound off on all of this, let me explain a bit. The companies are merely doing business because what they really want is for Tom Hanks to use their wristwatch in one picture and it's been worth it. The hotel is merely renting out the space and doing business. The nominees are merely accepting gifts that others want to give them (and I should note that after hitting this suite, his first, my friend declined to go to any others as it disgusted him quite a bit). They do have a choice, and many don't do this at all, but we all like free stuff right.

I guess what bugs me is the overall transparency of how all of this, the Oscars, TV, Movies, you name it, is designed to make all of us (the little people) feel less good about ourselves unless we have the same stuff that these nominees have. And again, it's not their fault, their just as sucked into this as we are. Keep in mind, this was only one of about ten or fifteen that were going on, and doesn't even take into account all of the gift bags that everyone will get tonight.

Amazing stuff. Makes you wonder why things are the way they are huh, or maybe it better explains it.

Enjoy The Oscars



Duane said...


Dave said...

Hah, indeed duane, but was it really? Hmmmmmm?

Michael said...

the Oscar 'entitlement' is particularly interesting. I didn't even watch the Oscars. I'd rather play with my kids and then read the winners rather than listen to their self-indulgent narccissm. I think that they are very much at fault for heightened consumerism and waste. Just the impact of movies and the obsession with their high-school level mentalities about the world coupled with 'cool' consumerism. Julia Roberts build an eco friendly house in Malibu to 'feel good' about herself - but doesn't consider the three years worth of work trucks throwing fumes into the atmosphere for her self-indulgence. Travolta talks about how we're all responsible - and then flies off on his private jet. Ed Begley is the only one I know who walks his talk, riding his bike and electric car and using solar power. And what if one were to cash in this stuff and just buy a clean water pump for kids in Africa? Naaaaah, that's not cool. Hollywood actors don't walk their talk, just catering to the EcoCool Headlines.

Dave said...

I hear ya Michael, but having said that i don't think any of us can judge an entire group by a small percentage. You mentioned accurately that these are the ones you hear of, but there are many more you don't. I personally know big name actors, directors and producers who have put solar systems on schools, taken their houses off the grid, and yes, even bought equipment for schools and villages in thrid world countries. Do they live large? Many do, but it shouldn't discount what they've done should it? I think in all honesty, we can all do more, so I always try to judge people by what they've done, not what they haven't.
That said, there is a fair amount of hypocrisy out there on all levels, hollywood is just a group that we hear from more than others.
Playin' with your kids....right on. That's sustainability.


Michael said...

I think that we do have to judge those Living Large - with excess and absurd consumerism - which stokes the fires of global consumerism because of disproportionate effect that their job, i.e., acting has on consumers worldwide. Their behavior...and hypocrisy...for better or worse is positioned for emulation. My caustic remarks were focused on the Hollywood swag bag mentality...not all actors fall into that having just worked with Liam Neeson on a film. He's a courteous, considerate gentleman and far from some egopoppers that I've met. I do judge people by what they haven't done if it is within their means and their grasp to take action. Watching a person drown when you could throw in a life preserver but you don't - inaction - is an immoral act in my book. I agree that Hollywood hypocrisy is heard from more than others...but that's the game that they're in. The limelight. And much better than the Oscars was getting beat by my son in basketball. And I gave him no quarter!

Dave said...

Like I said in the first post, I hear ya, I just don't think that you can hold what someone hasn't done against them if they've done a fair amount already. I've never worked with Neeson but am happy to hear he's a good joe. That said, you can't hold it against him that he takes home a decent paycheck when he could be signing it over to African Orphans can you (forgive me if he does). I guess my point is that we can all do more, but it shouldn't be held against us as long as we are at least doing something. I'm with you on the fact that those with means who do nothing are off base, but who's to say what's enough. Ironically enough, wasn't that Neeson at the end of Schindlers List?

Are you throwing enough elbows with your son? I'm sorry but at a certain point, playing dirty just may be necessary.


Duane said...

You know, it's real easy to judge those who are living large by your standards, but all of us are "living large". By the standards of a guy in Kenya, or the poorest parts of India, or many third world populations, the middle class(and perhaps even the lower class) in America is living very large. I'm a firm believer in judgement. I think that the concept of shame has disappeared and with it the concept of responsibility. But I think we all need to get our own houses in order.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. I don't know you, Michael, and I mean you no disrespect, but all this judging gets in the way right now. The only way that stuff like this takes off is when it becomes "cool"--cool to recycle, cool to walk, cool to drive a Prius. Cool makes things happen. Movie stars are "cool". A simple statement from Julia Roberts or John Travolta could do more for advancing this cause than me going completely off the grid in a mud hut, growing my own food, and throwing away my car.

Ya, they've got a lot of money. But they earn it. And some of them do good things with it. And some don't. How many of your toys have you sold to buy a water pump in Africa? Your friend Liam had a scene at the end of Schindler's list...I paraphrase: "with this pin, I could have saved one more..." Have you sold all your pins? Have you done all you could? How much hurting do you have to endure before you can say that you gave til it hurt?

I'm sorry to kinda jump all over you like this. I don't know you. You sound like a nice guy. But what I did to you just now is no different than what you did when you judged that group of actors. It's easy to jump all over the rich. Until you realize that by the world's standards, you're rich too. Did you know that if you make more than $12,000 per year, you are in the top 13% of income earners per capita IN THE WORLD? I'm just sayin...