The Shallowest Generation

So, did everybody watch the Oscars on Sunday?  That’s what I thought.  Well for those of us that did, wasn’t it just great to see that wonderfully talented ingénue, Mo’Nique, accept the Oscar for best performance by an actress in a supporting role?  (Wow, that’s a lot of words for one award!)  And did you catch how fellow directors and former romantic partners (it’s not PC to say husband and wife anymore) James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow were seated right next to each other!  Scandalous!  And did you notice how many times they cut away to George Clooney? (I counted 78).  And what about Miley’s dress? OMG!  Anyway, it goes without saying we’ll all always remember where we were and what we were doing during these precious moments: sitting on the couch watching TV.

Currently, there are some fifty separate annual awards shows involving more or less the same few hundred people.  Here is just a partial list:

The Academy Awards (The Oscars)

The Golden Globe Awards

The SAG Awards

The Daytime Emmy Awards

The Primetime Emmy Awards

The Grammys Awards

The Tony Awards

The MTV Movie Awards

The MTV Video Awards

The BET Awards

The ALMA Awards

The AMA Awards

The Bravo A-List Awards

The Critic’s Choice Awards

The People’s Choice Awards

The Teen’s Choice Awards

The Kid’s Choice Awards

And the list goes on.  By the time all of these awards shows are finally done with, it’s time to start them back up again!  Moreover, just about every participant receives some kind of an award, thus fulfilling the liberal maxim: “everybody gets a trophy.”  It has reached the point now where the awards manufacturing industry is the greatest contributor to national GDP!

Clearly, the professional self-admirers (the actors, directors, editors, wardrobe designers, make-up artists, etc.) who attend these countless awards ceremonies, and the media that adores them, are all in desperate need of a little perspective.  Their job is to entertain.  And yes, some of them do that job well. But they’re not curing cancer, or winning wars, or flying airplanes.  They are in the business — the very lucrative business — of entertainment. Whether or not they ever actually understand that is, frankly, not important to me.  What is sad, however, is that the culture of modern America has come to be defined by these nattering nabobs of narcissism. Having these self-absorbed glitterati play the role of cultural court jesters in America is one thing, but handing the entire kingdom over to them is quite another.  Our culture, when you think about it, is all that we have.  It is everything that we are about.  It defines us.  If we lose our culture, or if it becomes so base and worthless that it is as good as lost, then we are really nothing.  It is a troubling thought that another age a thousand years from now may be bound to look back upon our own and describe it thus: “Never throughout mankind’s history have such a self-centered people congratulated themselves so much for so very little.”

And so to put things in their proper perspective, I rank as the greatest moment in Oscar history to be when Marlon Brando, having won the best actor award for his Godfather performance, turned it down by boycotting the ceremony and sending instead American Indian activist Sacheen Littlefeather, in full Apache dress.  One might say this was the first of the tedious political statements by another self-righteous actor, but Brando wasn’t like that.  Quite obviously he was poking a big fat finger right into the twinkling eye of Hollywood and enjoying every minute of it.  Now that’s entertainment!

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57 Responses to “The Shallowest Generation”

  1. Charlotte Sellers RN Says:

    Even though entertainers are citizens and certainly have the right to free speech, I strongly object to the voicing of their opinions on award shows, etc., as they have very strong fan bases due to their celebrity alone, and these fans who idolize them take every word spoken as fact, and are convinced that the “Stars” opinion is the correct one and they do not learn to think for themselves and form their own opinions.
    We tend to elevate these “Stars” to a perfect status, instead of elevating the status of the scientist, teacher, inventor, housewife, husband, great mothers and fathers, doctors, nurses and everyday people who really are the back bone of the good ole USA !!

  2. Leroy Scandal Says:

    It’s no wonder so many people around the world have so a low opinion
    of us when they see us only via Hollywood.

  3. Leroy Scandal Says:

    It’s no wonder so many people around the world have such a low opinion
    of us when they see us only via Hollywood.

  4. Rob Says:

    Yes – somehow pop culture manages to suck its own d!ck all day.

  5. Lakia Says:

    I didn’t really get to see the Oscars, but I did see the dresses the next day.

  6. vintagejenta Says:

    Are we the shallowest generation? Perhaps. But in this day and age, we’re also the generation of escapism. That’s what recession will do to people.

    Most actresses and actors at these award shows tend to be very good at what they do. Not all, but most. I don’t see how this is any different from professional sports or the ego trips that are political campaigns. But perhaps that is more of an argument for your hypothesis than mine. 🙂

  7. plumbernator10 Says:

    hahaha that was an amzin blog entry. Funny and topical. Loved it!

  8. asaresearch Says:

    When you think of American culture in particular, what comes to mind? Let’s say you were a foreigner visiting the country, what symbols do you associate with this country? Disney. Shopping centers. Hollywood. Maybe the Statue of Liberty. Our culture is essentially a commercial one and has been for some time, though it may feel more so in recent decades, and especially with narcissism so fostered by global communication, which just spreads the obsession with material status and celebrity much further.

  9. happypizza Says:

    Great post! I am one of the (rare) people, who don’t give pay much attention or give much time to the movie/entertainment industry. That’s not to say I don’t watch movies from time to time, I do, but it’s really a minor interest in my life. I’ve always wondered about the underlying psychological reason behind the obsessive-attention and divine-like worship that is given to actors and those that work with them?!

  10. dweebcentric Says:

    I meant to post that previous comment under my own blog name – Dweebcentric not the ASA. Those comments are my own. Could you change the name?

  11. shoutabyss Says:

    That Marlon Brando moment was when the Oscars peaked! 🙂

  12. kayla Says:

    totally agree with this.

  13. emilymancuso Says:

    I agree completely. I didn’t watch the oscars, and people asked me why I didn’t. I guess doing other meaningful things pales in comparison to watching an actor/actress receive a goldplated idol. /shrug.

  14. gonzogirl214 Says:

    Brilliant. I was going to write up a rant of my own along these lines, but you’ve done it so well, it’s not necessary now. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Oscars, but this year, something changed. I saw it for what it is and it just made me sick to my stomach. I hope there are other like-minded individuals, such as yourself, out there.

  15. culturecrusader Says:

    Hi Gonzogirl,
    Judging from the excellent comments I’ve been receiving, including your own, it would seem there are quite a few of us out there; not that we need to congratulate ourselves about that or anything. 🙂
    -CC

  16. Thomas Stazyk Says:

    I’m proud to say that I still don’t know which movie won best picture and who won best actor/actress. All these awards are a classic example of the means becoming the end.

  17. Cy Quick Says:

    No big news here. University geeks dub each other Professor. Once it was for tough stuff. Now Degrees can be in Punch & Judy or Rock’n’Roll.

    Armed forces folk dress up as Generals and all sorts. Various religions dress their ginks with titles and robes, whilst they purvey pure nonsense.

    I could not afford the pay-TV rate on Sky to watch live. Red Carpet Live on E was all. But let the cute film stars have their harmless party, say I.

    Cy Quick at sumpnado.wordpress.com

  18. terror caught her Says:

    Pshaw. I didn’t watch it. Seeing as it will be hogging valuable news time for the few days after its recording I reckon i’m still pretty clued in.

    Watch the Hurt Locker, blah blah blah.

    She looks very debatably Indian American, I’ve seen the clip in history. But still, a nice stand to take, good on him. And he was rather amazing in a street car named desire.

    But, yes, yes, I agree whole heartedly. My own, rather English example is Jade Goody; famous for appearing on Big Brother, being racist and dying of cancer. Now a national treaure. WTF? R.I.P but bajebus, nothing is celebrated indeed.

    But I digress. Why on earth did you watch it?

    Take a stand!

    Rebuke the broadcasting network!

    TCH Girl x

  19. edufracked Says:

    Okay but the problem with your theory that they’re all the same people is that…well they aren’t. The people nominated for Tony’s are never at the Oscars and those at the Oscars are never at the Emmy’s. There are different areas of show business and while there is some overlap there are many different “celebrities” that “specialize” in certain areas.

  20. The Shallowest Generation « The Compulsive Explainer Says:

    […] March 11, 2010 Culture Crusader: the culture wars are on! […]

  21. Disillusioned Says:

    Goes along with our “leader”, Obama, winning the Nobel Peace Prize for absolutely nothing at all. Our culture is fixated on giving out awards. I worked at an elementary school and every child got an award, even the bully’s just to be sure no one’s feelings were hurt. Why don’t you have to earn prestige and nobility anymore I often wonder.

  22. Kymlee Says:

    here here! I’m an aspiring musician and I really don’t understand the necessity to care about who’s wearing what on the red carpet. Who cares… there are more important things in life than clothes, parties and stupid statues that don’t do anything aside from clutter your living space. Irritation.
    I’m sorry, acting may be a difficult thing, and some are better than others, but if you honestly think about it, these people are glorified for LYING. That’s their job. To pretend to be characters that they’re not.
    It may be entertaining but I really don’t agree with the fact that most of them are like royalty. Growing up I never had any idols (celebrities)
    I tended to focus on people who were actually doing good in our world. Some celebrities do, don’t get me wrong, and that’s the right thing to do with their positions.
    sorry for rambling lol

    end rant.
    Good post 🙂

    Kymlee

  23. sara Says:

    I didn’t really get to see the Oscars, but I did see the dresses the next day.

    برامج جديده
    اناشيد
    توبيكات جديده
    صور
    فساتين
    رسائل
    رسائل

  24. enviroart Says:

    You’re absolutely right about this self-congratulating, self-loving industry. This is what America is all about now, this is what people look up to, what they want to emulate. Drama, excess & stupidity… indeed very shallow… sad

  25. dohugsnotdrugs Says:

    I never pay attention to those things
    I usually have better things to do, like live my life.

  26. peaches Says:

    You’ve captured precisely why I never watch awards shows: a bunch of egotistical, ridiculous people patting themselves and each other on the back. It makes me sick.

    Brando may have been nuts, but he got it right!

  27. Dave Denoy Says:

    Our society, shallow or not, places an extremely high value on entertainment in all forms. We pay sports figures insanely ridiculous sums for 2-4 year contracts and are then stunned into disbelief when they turn out not to be the Olympian Gods we paid them to be but merely flawed mortals. Much like ourselves. All the egoism and self aggrandizement of Hollywood aside, there is such a thing as the transformative power of movies. They do much more than titillate and excite us. They move us deeply when a story is told well. They make us laugh and prompt our spirits to soar. And they inform us (the documentary ‘The Cove’, for example) about important things we need to know about.

    Hollywood has given the world something much more than mere entertainment. Maybe we should cut ’em some slack and let them acknowledge what they understand far better than us mere mortals. The craft that goes into film making. If it was so easy we’d all be doing it. There are enough non-Hollywood threats to our culture. Let’s not take away the last bastions of imagination.

    • culturecrusader Says:

      I’m not taking away any “last bastions of imagination.” I am saying that what is needed is a little perspective.

    • Kymlee Says:

      @ Dave,
      yes it is a very hard craft to perfect. I wouldn’t say that the creativity or the art of film making is the problem, it’s the fact that we place other people at such a high standard, so much in fact that we follow their every moves, and we place SO much importance on what a person is WEARING versus what that person’s character is. I’m in the business of knowing PEOPLE, and what they represent and contribute to life and if I may be so bold, I think that is what CultureCrusader was trying to convey as well (correct me if I’m wrong of course)

      It’s a sad state we’re in if all we place value on is a fantasy world of chiffon and silk and imaginary places, when we could look out our own backyards and see the beautiful reality of life, and heroes among our neighbors.

      but that’s just from this 23 yr old’s perspective, however naive it may be…

      Best regards and again, great post CC

      Kymlee

      • Dave Denoy Says:

        As an up and coming musician, would you turn down performing on the Grammy Award show if nominated? Would you not use the forum to expose a wider audience to your sincere message?

        Also, many of these self-congratulating people are very involved in real issues that address the plight of humanity. They use their celebrity to shine a light on something the rest of us may not know about. They fund raise by lending their names to causes and they’re not all doing it to repair a bad-boy image or as a tax dodge. Did you learn about the worldwide problem of landmines because you were actively seeking out that info or was it because Princess Di made it into her crusade?

        I think there is a consciousness afoot in Hollywood. So many of the films they craft are reflective of real heroes and the beauty of life.

      • culturecrusader Says:

        Hi Kymlee,
        Not naive at all. I guess I am just trying to make the slightly broader point about how we (as a culture, society, etc.) could use a little more perspective and balance when it comes to all of this patting ourselves on the back stuff. I point out the Oscars (and other such ceremonies) because they are, to me, such an extreme and blatant example, but it occurs elsewhere as well. Yet don’t get me wrong: I am not necessarily anti-Hollywood. In point of fact, I am a huge classic film buff and probably own every movie Marlon Brando ever made, not to mention Robert DeNiro, Anthony Hopkins and scores of others. The transporting quality of a movie (a well made one, that is) is a magical thing and we can all use a little flight from reality now and then. My point is that it all needs to be looked at in precisely that perspective: the world of fantasy.
        -CC

      • Kymlee Says:

        Right, and I’m not against hollywood either,
        I just hate how our society places so much importance in a person’s appearance, versus what is truly important (and that is a person’s character)

        I’m all for creative expression, I mean as Dave mentioned, I’m a musician, why wouldn’t I be right?

        So honestly, I think we are all on the same page in that understanding… You are very right on placing perspective on what is real and what is not.

        @Dave, you know, if I was asked to perform at the Grammy’s I would do it to perform, not to be of status. A performance is a performance, music is music, no matter where or how it’s played.
        and you are correct, many of the artists/stars of today ARE involved in helping, charities, plenty of humanitarian efforts and this is the right thing to do in my opinion, that’s what I want to do… I guess I’m more frustrated that so much importance is placed in the hands of Joan Rivers and the like. Who the heck cares who’s wearing who?
        I wanna know who’s helping who… That my friend, would be a show worth watching. (in my opinion of course…)

        Best regards to you and CC

        🙂

        Kymlee

      • culturecrusader Says:

        Kymlee,
        You are quite right! One more point that I would make is the deleterious effect that all this has on kids. What does it say to them about the culture we are passing on to them? Indeed, what is the culture that we seek to pass on? What do we really value as a culture and society? I’ll wager that if you ask average American high school students to name ten American presidents (besides Obama), they can’t do it. Ask them to name just three great painters of any genre, and I’ll bet they can’t do that either. Ask them to name just one classical music composer…. good luck with that! But if you ask them to name ten celebrities (from either Hollywood or the pop music industry) and they’ll rattle that off pretty darn quick! Or ask them who won American Idol last year (and who placed second, and third), and who’s in the running this year: all of sudden they’re quite knowledgeable. We have so skewed their perspective (as well as our own) on what is of value in Western culture and civilization that the enduring nature of that culture is now in serious question. There are also other toxic aspects of the pop counter-culture which I could go into but I’m saving those for another post that I’m in the process of drafting… coming soon to a theater near you! 🙂

      • Kymlee Says:

        I look forward to reading it my new friend. 🙂

        I feel your passion, and I share it, especially when it comes to children.

        I will be looking for your future posts!

        With Love,

        Kymlee

      • culturecrusader Says:

        Thanks Kymlee! 🙂
        Cheers,
        CC

  28. Elbert Says:

    Quick,
    You are correct that others (professors, athletes, etc.) have their fair share of awards ceremonies as well, but the impact that they might have on the culture is negligible compared to Hollywood actors and their ilk. In that context, these spectacles cannot be regarded as harmless.

  29. Sumayyah Says:

    Love the article and completely agree,
    I for one also spent 3 hours watching people get awards, didn’t realize it until now how i just wasted that part of my day. Honestly, them getting awards is never going to affect my life.

  30. isomd Says:

    I like to see you be so emotional and passionate about this. This is a problem and something I intended to write about about, and I still might. But I love the medium that you presented this argument with was the award’s season and the academy awards, most fitting to illustrating this.

    Truly, our culture is what defines us. And entertainment has such influence on us because we let it. By being such a lazy culture that waits to be served and waits to be entertained. We have a bad habit that we live our lives by entertainment and our lives revolves around this. Entertainment influences our culture, and we don’t see that either.Or we play it off as “just being entertainment”. But in reality, since we cling to entertainment so much, it has a hold that capivates and subtly influences us unlike what we know. Its a cycle of disaster that is making us worse as a culture, and the awrads just fans the fire. What we look to and focus on, thats what influences us. And right now, thats the entertainment industry, which causes havoc with our culture.

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Iso,
      Sorry it has taken me a while to reply. I appreciate your thoughts on this. They track my own very closely as you’ll see in an upcoming post of mine. Stay tuned!
      -CC

  31. goldnsilver Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this. I’ve always hated the self importance of actors, which reaches its peak at Oscars. I think that Team America: World Police did a fantastic parody of the situation with the Film Actors Guild jokes.

    As for the competition itself, I gave up when Gwyneth Paltrow won Best Actress for that drivel in Shakespeare in Love, beating Cate Blanchett’s incredible performance as Queen Elizabeth, in Elizabeth.

  32. elmer Says:

    nevermind the culture, keep in mind the ARTS

  33. WireCat Says:

    While I agree with you on the point that the celebrity/awards industry is sprialling out of control, I do wonder at your Marlom Brando comment. What, exactly, made him different from the “self-righteous” actors of today?

    • culturecrusader Says:

      Well WC, it’s just my opinion, but I don’t think Brando was, so to speak, wired that way. Does anyone remember him primarily as that outspoken activist for American Indian rights? Perhaps he was sympathetic to their plight, but there are many other ways he could’ve shown that. Turning down the Oscar had more to do with embarrasing the elite of Hollywood, whom he came to despise, more than championing the rights of the oppressed.

  34. urbisaereperennius Says:

    Sound editors need to get awards, too, the backstage people deserve at least one thing for themselves. As for the other 49 award shows, who gives a crap about those PR shindigs?

  35. Dave Denoy Says:

    goldnsilver,

    Who wins is often, as Yul Brenner says in the King & I, “a puzzlement”. I particularly agree with you on that particular year. What we learned that year is that a distributor or production company can saturate the Academy members’ consciousness through intense marketing and influence the vote. This year’s experiment with 10 Best Picture noms is at once a good idea as it expands the field of possibilities while simultaneously diluting the votes with head scratching choices like District 9 and Up. At least Avatar didn’t ride the conventional wisdom. While a pretty spectacular screen event, the story was not original – think Pocahontas), it was not a Best Picture choice.

    As for the fashion, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that seeps down even to the tee shirts, shorts and flip-flops you wear. The dresses are works of art in their own right. Art does not enjoy a universal appeal. Sometimes you just have to let art flow over you and just enjoy the experience. Actors, no ALL celebrities, are who and what they are precisely because of their egos – it’s the gift that let’s them do the craft so well, whether that’s Hollywood or the Superbowl.

    And yes, CC, there are an awful lot of award shows. We could argue the merits of which ones are essential but imagine Oscar Night if you had to acknowledge all forms of entertainment. I would go on for 36 hours and that WOULD be unbearable. It’s good that they break it up. Unfortunately they do Golden Globe, SAG, DGA and a couple of others in a cluster and it sort of fatigues you by the time Oscar comes.

  36. Dave Denoy Says:

    One last thought on this whole watching the Oscars…

    We like to have fun with it. We have a big party, invite all of our friends, everyone dresses up, we actually do a red carpet of our own, complete with fake movie titles, interviews, announcers, photo shoots, lots of film titled foods and drinks,
    etc. We all vote and the winners (most right and least right) win cool prizes. We give prizes throughout the night too. Costs us a bloody fortune but everyone has fun with it. So we never come away from it with the feeling we wasted 3 or 4 hours of our lives. We take advantage of a silly TV show to have a great, human interaction.

    And no – none of us are remotely in the industry. I’m in IT, CC, not Clooney’s publicist.

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