Reeling with Ryan Lattanzio

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If I had a water cooler, or knew where one was, I'd be talking around it. People always seem to be hungry for discussion around this mythical place. Maybe there I'll find someone to talk to about the Academy Awards - I haven't had much luck elsewhere. It looks like the Oscars are headed to the grave of the culturally irrelevant. Media-centrics and movie fanatics like myself are rejecting the advances of that one night where their mad obsession gets paid some tribute on national TV.

Sometimes, people do irrational things to try and reaffirm the Oscars' place in the zeitgeist. I've already talked up Melissa Leo quite a bit, and I don't mean to exhume what should ostensibly be a dead subject, but she recently went balls-to-the-wall and launched a self-funded awards campaign photo. In it, she looks kind of devious, scheming, wearing the word "Consider" as a hat. The photo is all glamour, stripped of the steely Leo we've seen in her work (the hardened coyote in "Frozen River," the blowsy mom in "The Fighter"). The photo actually looks like she's morphed into Bonnie Raitt. So, well done.

This campaign photo got me to re-thinking about the actress, as well as the Oscars themselves. Sure, the photo is conspicuous, downright onanistic even, but at least Leo is nobody's pawn. She's her own pimp. And shouldn't we admire that? Yes. But do we really? Not so much. It all comes down to good old-fashioned "nobody gives a fuck." This is how Americans feel about Oscar night: It's there, it exists, it happens. But why should we care? It's just a big orgy we'll never be asked to attend.

The Oscars were always very significant for me up until the last few years. Most people have the Super Bowl but I would only get pumped for the Academy Awards. They meant a school night where I could stay up late guiltlessly and feel some vague sense of belonging. But I'm starting to care less and less. Even last year's ceremony eventually became background noise as the night wore on. It's the awards season buzz that really gets to me - the foreplay - but when it comes time for the grand finale, I start to feel like I want to sit this one out.

It's also apparent that, to boost ratings, the Oscars have been chipped and picked and peeled away, down to a semblance of their old self. Gone are the clips of performances. Gone are many of the specially made montages of the Best Picture nominees. Gone is the celebration of the movies themselves. It's as if everyone wants to get this party over really quickly, hastily handing out awards and sending everyone out the doors and on their way home in limos.

My progressively deflating interest in the Oscars over the years is probably due to living in an era where people have become increasingly skeptical of Hollywood - and rightly so. The movies they're serving up just aren't up to par. When I look at this year's nominees, I don't see many of my favorites ("Scott Pilgrim," "Fish Tank"). It's all this chewed up Hollywood cud, the same thing that's been on the menu every time.

This piece started out as a polemic against the Oscars for all their glittery trashiness. But now, I guess it's become more of a screed on my utter ambivalence toward the thing. I'd like to say, give that poor golden boy a chance! But at the same time, I can't bring myself to do it.

Consider disrespecting Melissa Leo with Ryan at [email protected]

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