Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An Oscar Experience by Leif Sutton-Williams

Leif Sutton-Williams at the Oscars
Going to the Oscars makes you realise that, while Americans may not be well known for fancy food or having old spectacular cathedrals that are centuries old, they sure do know how to throw a flashy party for the rich and famous (excluding me of course, I am neither unfortunately).

In fact, the only way you’re allowed through security is if you ride a limo through to the entrance gates. I’m really not kidding you, no taxis allowed, no bicycles or hover hoards, you have one way in and out, and that’s being seated in a bloody massive limo. Which is super fun, but while my parents are not impoverished, having to hire a limo (which you have to buy for the whole day) is not exactly cheap for my family. My sister and I look forward to our can of baked beans for our inheritance.

When we arrived through to the event, we were greeted on the left with the sight of the delightfully reactionary Westboro church protesting, with children holding signs telling us about our fate in hell. 
Protesting the Oscars
At first I felt disgusted, but I couldn’t help but notice just how bored the kids holding the signs were, which gave me some hope for them. It can’t be very fun when you’re 8 years old and you want to play with your toys at home, rather than carry a cumbersome sign saying that the ‘fags’ (That’s all of us entering the event I presumed) are going to hell.

When we got through to the red carpet, it felt pretty astounding I must admit. On the left you have all the paparazzi and journalists, screaming at the nominees trying to get their attention for an interview and on the right they have stalls of fans, who seemed to become possessed by incredibly vocal demons spirits when a famous star came through. I’m surprised any of them had a voice left after shouting ‘I love you (fill in the stars name)’ at the top of their lungs as often as they did for such a long period of time.

The funniest thing I noticed on the red carpet though was the faces of the entertainment journalists when they had finished an interview or talking to the camera. As soon as the camera was off, those wide American plastic grins that seem to engulf most of their rigidly carved faces, went to sullen and grumpy in a heartbeat. They seemed to want to be there as much as a Mexican immigrant at a Trump rally.

I also found it pretty amusing when I saw some nominees who weren’t big stars, getting photos taken by the paparazzi, when one of the photographers literally scowled in disgust and refused to take any photos as they obviously weren’t ‘famous’ enough for him. While I met some lovely people out there, that moment encapsulated for me how a lot of these L.A entertainment folks behaved. To put it bluntly, some people needed to get some pretty large carrots out of their ass.

The ceremony was pretty fun though. Chris Rock was hilarious, with his predicted set pretty much exclusively focusing on the lack of diversity at the Oscars. You could hear everyone uncomfortably laugh and clap as if the jokes weren’t directed at their own expense. The only blip during the ceremony was a brutally awkward set by Silver Silverman, which no one in the venue laughed at. I mean uncomfortably awkward silence to the point where I was fake chuckling because I felt so bad for her. However, she probably should have thought about her routine a bit more considering her jokes didn’t seem to go very much beyond ‘’haha I have tits’ and ‘doesn’t James Bond have a small penis amiright???’ I’m really not exaggerating there at all - look it up on YouTube (if you can bear it).

There was another odd moment where the Vice President Joe Biden came on stage and all the Americans in the room stood up to clap and cheer him as if we were at a super bowl celebrating America. The English guy sitting next to me gave me a bemused smile as if to say ‘I too find this weird, you’re not alone’. Overall though the ceremony was pretty incredible and while I’m not a fan of Lady Gaga, she did do a pretty moving set about sexual assault, where dozens of survivors stood on stage and sang with her.

After the ceremony was over and the winners hooted and the losers looked pained, we were directed along a long labyrinth of escalators to the Governors' Ball where a buffet of food and booze was available. My parents had not won their nomination unfortunately and we all sat around eating sushi and drinking wine to make us feel less glum, because even though they didn’t win, we got free booze so the joke was on the Academy.

Funnily enough Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher sat down on the table next to us. He did not seem to be in a great mood and I couldn’t help but listen in on his wife trying to commiserate him on the bad reviews his new film was getting. 
worst ever selfie

I also saw Matt Damon standing around by himself and I worked up the courage to go ask for a photo. My flatmates at home had dared me to get a photo with a famous actor and after I hesitantly approached him asking for a photo, which he very politely said yes to, I took the worst selfie of myself and Matt Damon a semi-functioning human being could take. Just typing these words makes me cringe looking back on it. I get to go to the Oscars and I awkwardly asked Matt Damon for a photo, like a year nine boy at his school disco asking for a dance from a crush. Needless to say, while I got the photo, it’s not going to be up on my wall reminding me of my shame.

Eventually we all got pretty tired and as we had no little gold men to get us into the after parties, went home feeling rather drained and done with all the drama and flashy gold. It was a pretty cool experience but it all felt very superficial and fake. It was as if everything looked amazing visually, but put your finger through it and it turned out it’s all just made of thin paper. And yes, to the most frequently asked question I get asked about going to the Oscars, Leonardo Di Caprio looked very handsome and dashing alright.

Leif Sutton-Williams was at the Oscars with his parents - two of the nominees for the Best Animated Short. He lives in Bristol, England, and is studying modern history at Bristol University.

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