Celebrating the reality of our industry
It’s official: the awards season is finally over, marked by the fact that the Oscars have come and gone, and the Logies are yet to.
With all the big ceremonies behind us for another year, Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts members can stop pretending they watched Hail, and the US Academy can stop pretending they sat through Amour. The world can return to its natural order.
Well, most of it can.
Say what you like about the Oscars, but it achieved one key thing that the AACTAs did not: in the days following the ceremony, the US Academy managed to avoid firing a large swathe of its own employees.
With apologies to the mouse in the wheel that’s now powering Australia’s Least Unprestigious Awards Ceremony (Less Than Three Years Old)™, Hollywood definitely had a few things over us the other night: Quentin Tarantino accepting his award in more than just a t-shirt; Sacha Baron Cohen drowning out Russell Crowe the moment he opened his mouth and genuine uncertainty over who might actually win.
Of course, the Oscars – rebranded from the Academy Awards in one last, unconvincing grab at relevancy – was hardly devoid of controversy.
In a stunning irony that would seem ham-fisted in a Hollywood film, Life of Pi accepted the award for Best Visual Effects as Rhythm and Hues – the company responsible for much of Life of Pi’s effects – filed for bankruptcy. It was a cognitive dissonance the studios were unable to visualise because all of their CGI artists are now out of work.
There’s little correlation between the duelling controversies that now dog the trans-Pacific Academies. It would be simple to dismiss them both as victims of the ongoing global financial crisis, but that would be giving them too much credit.
The Australian Academy has been circling the drain for some time. Last week’s staff cutbacks were not its first. As it dispenses with the archival duties it undertook when it was the AFI, it has taken to sycophantically handing out awards in LA to US filmmakers and stars who seem rightly bemused by the whole process. It is, by any measure, a complete waste of money.
Hollywood’s latest disaster is the complete opposite. The big studios are very much concerned with securing their bottom line, which is why they’re now shipping its visual effects off to third world countries.
The attempts by both ceremonies to celebrate film culture and its workers as they join the dole queue are, of course, blisteringly hypocritical. And thus, we can identify the key to being taken seriously on the world stage.
With The Logies only days away – 38 days, to be exact – it’s time for them to step up. Forget about locating a US celebrity hoping to turn their Australian holiday into a tax write-off to bewilderingly read jokes about Matt Preston’s cravat off an autocue. No, if you really want people to take notice, wait until the next morning and then fire everyone at TV Week.
On the day you manage to juxtapose a glitzy awards ceremony with an event that indicates the death of the very industry that’s being celebrated, you’ll have finally made it, kid.
Lee Zachariah is a writer and critic best known for ABC comedy program The Bazura Project and the film podcast Hell Is For Hyphenates. Find him on Twitter @leezachariah.
This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.