Oscar Fright!

Another year passes and the catwalk of supposed style is paraded in front of the world. Oscar night is considered the world’s premier film award ceremony. If we count the dollars spent alone over the last few months on big show time events it is a personal fright: The cost of the US president’s inauguration in January 2005 amounted to $40M (US dollars). It consisted of nine official balls and nearly twice as many unofficial parties. Interestingly, the First Lady’s inaugural gown is likely to be presented to the National Museum of American History in Washington DC. Although $40M will be paid for by private donations solicited from President George W. Bush’s supporters, it is still a lot of money.

In terms of the cost of the Oscars in 2005 I’m still searching for an overall cost but a clue to its ‘make-up’ can be revealed by analysing the big winner’s goodie bag contents – for example, consisting of cashmere pyjama bottoms, mink eyelashes and a coffee maker. Presenters and performers at this year’s Oscar ceremony will also receive a ‘gift basket’ – a bag of freebies – each expected to have a value of approximately $150,000 (£78,500). It will include the latest ultra-thin mobile phone, a selection of free holidays, exclusive olive oil, a $1,500 voucher for dinner, coffee maker, toaster and a kettle. There are even plans for an unofficial runners-up gift bag for all the nominees. Priced at around $38,000, it includes a voucher for a weekend in Las Vegas. All this for some of the most mollycoddled and wealthy people on the planet.

However, why should we worry about all this cost? Many may argue it is the price of having fun, in return for giving pleasure to the viewing public and celebrating achievement. Kind words but I am afraid in a world of indifference to strive and in-balance in terms of wealth, who exactly is having the fun? Is the fun only reserved the celebrities cat walking their diamonds, gowns and egos or are they simply serving the readers of glossies that further fuel and stroke an industry of the image conscience?

I am certainly not implying that some celebrities do not work hard to highlight world issues. Take for example, Angelina Jolie, an Oscar-winning actress for her role in Girl, Interrupted, and the iconic action adventure character Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame. She has worked for many years as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), visiting UNHCR refugee operations in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan and Ecuador. When asked: What surprised you most in your first months as ambassador? She replied, ‘The extreme imbalance of wealth and resources in the world.’

This is my point, when we collectively realise that there is such imbalance of wealth in the world a level of global perspective can rise within ourselves. For some reason headlines updating us on the problems in the Sudan, African’s Aids epidemic, child labour, the worrying statistics on child and associated adult mortality and the rising barriers of rich and poor under the same regime are surpassed or positioned as secondary stories?

We need to understand that the media delights in praising the achievements of gloss but the cost of developing and promoting this gloss overshadows the underlying problems and realities of the world. Next time you stay-up to watch the Oscars or read about the latest winners; consider if the cost is worth it and who we should really all be working to win for.

Categories: 2005

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