Can you feel the award season vibe around you right now?
It’s when you stop giving a damn to your New Year resolutions and instead find yourself browsing through TV schedules to bookmark those evenings when your favorite award shows will be airing. There is some divine delight in looking forward to the smell of warm coffee mixing with a yummy plate of pasta when you curl up in front of your sofa to cheer for your favorite actors.
Then that day arrives when Emma Stone wins a Golden Globe, it’s like, “OMG, Emma! You beautiful beautiful b*Tch#! WE WON IT!”
You know the feeling right?
Let’s cut to the chase.
It does not end with her winning. For me, the highlight is most definitely the award show speeches. What do the actors have to say, what the writers, directors, cinematographers have to say, it matters. The thank yous and dedications do more than simply express gratitude; they explain their personalities.
It’s absolutely delightful when these ‘personalities’ take the stage to make politically and socially nuanced award show speeches that communicate their craft, their shadows, their values, beliefs, and so much more in a big way. They often determine how we perceive them, and most definitely how we perceive the things they are talking about.
And, that’s not the end of it.
Come next day, and a consequent flood of blogs, op-eds, tweets, rants, and statuses will be choking your newsfeeds- why did he say that what she meant there, la la la. It’s like, every January and February everything on entertainment media revolves around decoding awards shows on auto-mode.
Before they actually happen, there are enough prediction blogs to ruin your mood; after them arrives a flood of reaction blogs to cheer on your hangover.
I actually quite like that.
You see, It’s not just about Films and Visual arts.
I like how those many articles decoding every nitty-gritty reflect on the intangibility of a pop icon existing in a vacuum. The recent cloudburst of reactions to the award show speeches of Ryan Gosling and Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe Awards serve excellently to illustrate how the media isn’t blowing their speech acts out of proportion for the heck of it.
It is when we critique, comment and analyze their words; we help them hit the home run. Their opinions matter because we as an audience matter to them, and our opinions matter because that reflects how as an audience we are responding to their influence.
The perception matters.
One thing that I love about a dozen odd different reactions to Meryl Streep’s Oscar worthy Golden Globe speech is how they illuminate different strands of thought working in tandem in our culture. Whether it is Trump calling her a ‘Hillary flunky’ or Kevin Fallon on Daily Beast expressing outrage on the unbelievable backlash to her speech, there is a range of emotions and opinions you can play your own thoughts on.
And as in every culture of communication, this web of opinions highlights how the society is thinking. It shapes our perception by providing alternative narratives, argues against our strongest beliefs with convictions equally strong of their own. Meryl Streep is entitled to an opinion of her own, of a perception of her own, and that is what she beautifully champions above everything else.
The freedom to think and to have a voice.
The subtext matters too.
Cue Ryan Gosling’s heartwarming dedication to the woman who has been his backbone, we would never suspect that speech act as a reiteration of a patriarchal conditioning. But some critics have, and they have given good reasons for it.
It read as a valid reminder of how even though Eva Mendes might have legitimately chosen to be the stay at home mom, it does not mean that she had many options otherwise. After all, Hollywood is a deeply sexist place where 60%-90% percent of dialogues in a movie are delivered by men.
And that did not stop other equally feminist writers to protest how such accusations squarely deny a woman’s voluntary choice to be a stay-at-home mom if that makes her happy.
Well, the battle of the wits can go on and we know by now that Mendes did love her husband’s dedication. Point is, a seemingly innocent speech isn’t free from being tested according to the concurrent perceptions. The subtext of the speech, and consequently the subtext of the reaction op-ed (namely how family, childhood, choices matter for them) get brightly highlighted in this exercise.
Ultimately, it makes us all winners when we participate.
As audience then, we are no longer passive. We progress with the progression of values; as long as you are not holding on to your judgments blindly, you are doing okay. Such a culture of free public opinions is wholesome, it encourages disparate views to flourish and coexist.
It even finds a balance somewhere. Maybe, in more stunning award show speeches in the future?