Dr. Allison Fraiberg is a professor of cultural and popular studies in the School of Business at the University of Redlands. She ponders here the question of whether or not we should even have the Oscars this year and reflects on what Oscar is really about. Dr. Fraiberg is available to comment on the Oscars.
I’ve been hearing people wonder if we should even have the Oscars this year since no theaters were open. There’s no doubt that the past year has had us reflecting on the ways we used to do all sorts of things, what we haven’t done in far too long, and how we’ll do things in the days ahead. No, we haven’t “gone to the movies” in a long time.
You know what though? The Oscars aren’t about theatres; in some ways, they aren’t even about film.
Let me be clear: I love movies and movie theaters. I was a film major in college and spent every “$2 Tuesday” going to screening after screening after screening; years later, living in Los Angeles, I ran around with my friend Pamela at the last possible moment to every theater between Hollywood and Pasadena to catch up on all the nominees, despite having screeners sitting on the coffee table at my apartment. There’s magic in our Cinema Paradiso.
But the Oscars serve a different purpose for those of us who are simply movie lovers. From year to year, I never remember which film won best picture, who won best actress, or what the best score was. What I remember are the people I shared the experience of the Oscars with: the chats in the days leading up to the show, downloading and filling out my ballot, the planning of snacks, and on that night, above all, the laughter rising up among new acquaintances, the smiles between friends and family, cries of feigned agony when your favorite lost, and yelps of delight for a landmark win or long-overdue “first-ever” recognition.
Sure, there are careers in the making, art ready for the ages, necessary cultural critiques emergent, and business industry analyses in the offing. Indeed, I was tasked today with providing just such a critical analysis. But I’m in a more reflective mode, and I’m drawn right now to the people I’m missing, not the “expertise” I might bring to the subject as an academic cultural critic. Forgive me, I have a ballot to download and a WhatsApp chat group to put together. The Oscars are Sunday, after all.