This week Joe West succumbs to the obvious and writes about awards shows. Sort of.
It’s quite annoying that the purest form of humility requires that you don’t seek or expect any recognition for your actions. Most of the things we do are executed in the expectation that someone else will find out and respond favourably. Altruism is as real as Father Christmas or love.
For example, this morning I overheard two builders who were working in the flat above mine loudly discussing the fact that they’d love it if a little red car could move and allow their massive van to park less illegally on the street outside. Since it was my little red car they were talking about, I realised that I’d been endowed with a major responsibility.
Out I went, moving it to a different space and giving them room. Then I came back inside. Then, after standing in thought for a few seconds, I left the flat and went upstairs to alert them to my good deed in person. I didn’t need to do this, but I knew that if they learnt that I’d acted kindly on purpose, rather than finding the car gone and assuming it was a coincidence, they’d heap praise upon me.
I was right, and I left with their jubilant thanks ringing in my ears. I wore that fuzzy feeling of appreciation like a gentleman’s cloak, humble in my acceptance of the plaudits and yet buzzing with selfish glee on the inside.
That, I imagine, is how it feels to win an Oscar. So it’s entirely hypocritical of me to hold awards shows in such contempt, while knowing that if I won at one, I’d become a massive, self-congratulatory twazzock.
It’s equally preposterous of me to think, as I do, that the nobility of working hard in obscurity outweighs the breathless rhetoric of adoration heaped at the feet of internationally renowned actors. How convenient that I, a nobody, would judge my own state of insignificance to be superior to that of talented, beautiful multimillionaires. And how pompous. Yet here we are.
So what if they did away with the shows, but kept the awards? Aren’t these glitzy galas just an admission that even the rich and powerful of Hollywood need that money shot moment of climax to legitimise their improbable successes? If not, wouldn’t the stars be happy to get their baubles in the post, or even turn them down, as I pretend I would do in the event of being offered an OBE?
Infuriatingly, this year’s Oscar winners were, for the most part, a likeable, unassuming bunch. Jennifer Lawrence is quickly outdoing Emma Stone in the Hollywood girl-next-door stakes, while Christoph Waltz is charmingly self-effacing and humble. This alone is enough to make me consider watching them next year. If I can get over myself.