Monday, February 25, 2008

The 2008 Oscar Awards - One Man's Opinion

I’d tell you what I thought of the 80th Academy Awards presentation last night. But I didn’t watch the broadcast. Not a minute of it.

I didn’t watch the red carpet procession, during which $10,000 outfits parade before a glittering expanse of flash bulbs; no one really cares who’s in the clothes anyway, unless the outfits are particularly revealing, ugly, or Fergilicious.

I didn’t see Jon Stewart’s opening monologue, or any of his between-awards antics. That guy’s funny though. I’m sure he did a fine job, even if his jokes flew over the heads of 75% of the live audience and 95% of the TV audience.

And I didn’t see any of the hurried acceptance speeches. Everyone thanks the same list of characters anyway: Mom, Dad, Jesus, Brother/Sister, Husband/Wife, Director/Co-star, Thomas Edison, Alfred Hitchcock, and……and……

“Wait a minute, Mill. Did you say Thomas Edison?”

Yes I did. You heard correctly. Thanks for paying attention.

I reference Edison in order to make a point. You didn’t hear his name mentioned in anyone’s acceptance speech last night - or for that matter, the year before. Or the year before that.

You had the flu in 2005 and drifted through Oscar night in a Nyquil-induced haze (I assure you he was not mentioned that year either), but in 2004 you also don’t recall any mention of Mr. Edison.

Everything before 2004 is a blur for you - but no mention of Edison in any of those preceding 75 years of acceptance speeches either.

It doesn’t make any sense. And so, ever since 2007’s fiasco of an awards show, with yet again no mention of Thomas Edison, I decided to boycott the Oscars this year.

Would it be so hard for these Hollywood types to stop thinking about themselves and their families and loved ones, and give a tiny little thanks, a brief shout-out, or a smidgen of props, to the man who made every single Oscars ceremony possible?

Without Edison, there would be nothing to celebrate. No one would be able to watch the ceremony. And even if they could watch the show live in the theater, no one would care, because the people accepting the awards wouldn’t be movie stars. They’d have no movies to star in. They’d just be astoundingly and inexplicably obnoxious and pretentious.

It was Edison, at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, who introduced the Kinetograph (a camera) and the Kinetoscope (a projector)– the first somewhat functional moving-picture-type-of-device-thingies.

And Edison’s company was the first to produce 480 mm width films, which could be projected on screens in front of large audiences. By 1896, other companies were copying Edison’s original, kickass designs. The race for motion picture supremacy had begun.

Thomas Edison was no dummy, and he was also intensely litigious – not so much religious. He sued the shit out of anyone who tried to copy his inventions.

Edison with Kinetograph, also demonstrating his preferred method of delivering a lawsuit via one of his other inventions - ticker tape.

In 1908, Edison founded the Motion Pictures Patents Company (MPPC) also known as the Edison Trust. This conglomerate of the nine major film companies of the time (including Eastman Kodak!) would use a lawsuit as a sort of back-handed bitch slap against any independent film company that tried to encroach on Edison’s holy ground.

The trust lasted less than 10 years before being dissolved by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1917. Look into it yourself if you don’t believe me. You can’t make this stuff up.

And so henceforth on Oscar night, I will no longer sit down with my friends and family, and settle around the TV with a few boxes of wine and a platter of Costco shrimp cocktail.

Classy. Delicious.

Cheap. Intoxicating.

Rather, I’ll be in a small, windowless room, reflecting upon Edison’s contributions to modern society – with only a single bare bulb burning in the inky darkness; a fitting homage to Edison's most famous achievement.

I’ll probably just stare at the bulb and drink beer until I fall asleep.

Yay Edison!!

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