Celebrity speeches, Joan Rivers plays part in show

Geoff Nixon

Geoff Nixon

With the 82nd annual Academy Awards only days away, the people of this country are clearing their Sunday night schedules and buying up bottles of liquor to tune in as all of the fabulous rich and famous elites gather for a three-hour self-congratulatory circle jerk.

While multimillion-dollar celebrities sip complimentary cocktails, different people in different walks of life will watch as Avatar and The Hurt Locker compete for the most wins this year. But what are the Oscars really about? Why is our nation completely smitten by the overpriced prom dresses and lengthy overemotional speeches?

Unlike me, some people have actually seen all of the movies up for Best Picture. Those people have done their homework and have a vested interest in who takes home the 13.5-inch statuette. Some people watch because they like the emotional 45 seconds when each winner thanks the laundry list of producers and directors they want to be employed by in the future and then of course the most important people at the end: parents, children, lovers and God. After each group of talented (or lucky) individuals spends way more than their allotted speech time droning on about this, that or the other thing the whole ceremony winds up being more than three hours long.

The longest award ceremony to date was in 2002 when 40.5 million viewers watched Whoopi Goldberg host 4 hours and 23 minutes of lengthy speeches and movie montages. Yeah. FOUR HOURS. That’s 263 minutes of overly gracious actors crying about how they could’ve never dreamed of being behind the podium. 15,780 seconds of James Cameron looking awkward while he hopes to beat out his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for the most awards.

Regardless of how long the ceremony turns out to be, we’ll certainly be entertained by Joan Rivers’ post-Oscars ragfest. After 200 years in the business, I suppose she has earned the right to call people trash and talk about how aging has caused her to sag in certain parts. With her entourage of like-minded dense-skulled divas, Joan will undoubtedly point out each star’s gaffes and make a few of her own.

So what’s it all worth (besides a few million)? What do we, as a people, gain from the Academy Awards? Like the other 40 million Americans tuning in to the Oscars, we get a taste of life as a superstar. We sit with bated breath watching as the presenters crack a joke and read the list of nominees before breaking the seal on that gold-lined envelope and announcing the winner.

Then we’ll join good ol’ Joan and point out who looks old or whose outfit is awful. Then after all is said and done, marketing moguls will take the results and slap them on DVD cases with promotional blurbs like, “Winner of six Academy Awards!” In the end, the Oscars are like any other programming on television. The only difference is that the people giving the speeches aren’t characters in a movie.