With the pending pomp and circumstance of the 81st Academy Awards upon us, the eyes of the world (literally hundreds of millions in more than 200 countries according to the Academy’s fact sheet) will be focused on the Kodak Theatre in LA-LA Land.
While the serious film aficionados sit back and reflect on the varied and skillful acting performances, the achievements in costume design and lighting, and debate the musical merits of Jai Ho versus O Saya, many others will simply be tuning in to see the single largest collection of celebrities in one place and time this year.
In fact, we have become such a celebrity-obsessed culture that the brains behind the show won’t even tell us which celebs are presenting the golden statuettes. We will all have to tune in to see which “superstar presenters” make the cut. Sure there have been a few leaks (Zac Efron, Robert Pattison and Jennier Aniston), but for the most part, the presenter list remains a mystery and a clever hook used by the show’s producers to get more viewers to stay tuned for the entire broadcast.
And don’t even get me started on the red carpet. What was once a precursor to the big show — much like the undercard to a heavyweight title fight — has become, in many ways, bigger than the awards themselves. There are entire programs across multiple networks and websites dedicated to gawking at the rich and famous as they make their way down the red carpet. In many ways, the Oscars have become like the SuperBowl with so much hype that the pre-game is almost more interesting than the game itself (2008 and 2009 excluded in the case of the NFL).
Following the show, the media will focus almost exclusively on the best and worst dressed, the after-parties and any drama that may have taken place behind the scenes (there is apparently a meeting taking place at some point between Aniston and the Bradd Pitt-burglar, Angelina Jolie).
You may recall, just a few weeks back the music world got together to pat each other on the back at the Grammy Awards and all that is being talked about today in relation to that event are the allegations against Chris Brown and his alleged assault of girlfriend Rihanna hours before the show. The only funny thing about this incident (I know there is nothing funny about domestic violence) is that when I asked my wife if she knew who he was, she thought he was a rapper or basketball player – she may not have known much about him, but she knew he was famous.
And that’s just it. Today, there are far too many celebrities in the public conscious famous for reasons that have nothing to do with talent or relevancy. To “make it” in 2009, you’d better be the heir to a family fortune, have a sex tape, drug bust, DUI, reality TV deal, or all of the above to gain any significant attention from the media or the public.
So, while many of Hollywood’s true A-listers will be out-and-about on Sunday night, here’s a simple way to categorize many of the wannabes and hangers-on you’re bound to see this weekend attempting to leverage Oscar’s buzz…feel free to play along at home.
Hollywood Royalty…these are the true celebrities who have earned our respect and attention through an impressive body of work (i.e. Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Leonardo Dicaprio, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie).
Talented and Respected…not quite A-list yet, but these stars made their name the old-fashioned way (i.e. Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jake Gyllenhall, Jack Black, Alicia Keys, Adrien Brody, Josh Groban, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Natalie Portman).
Teen Today, Gone Tomorrow…well known teen stars that will likely end up fizzling out by the time they’re 25 a la Frankie Muniz, Tiffany and Macauley Culkin… (Zac Efron and the entire High School Musical cast, Myley Cyrus, anyone named Duff, Jonas or Lohan).
Time To Face Reality…those who have taken a ride on the wave of reality TV to create their personas (Danny Bonaduce, Lauren Conrad, Justin Guarini, Tia Tequila, Clay Aiken, and any former members of The Surreal Life, Dancing With The Stars or Celebrity Fit Club casts).
Sad But True…these were promising young talents that are now eternally linked to negative events larger than their celebrity status (Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse, Chris Brown, Britney Spears, Kate Moss, Courtney Love and of course, Michael Jackson).
Born Into It…celebrities by association (Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Brody Jenner, Ashlee Simpson, Brooke Hogan, Kimberly Stewart or anyone with the last name Osbourne other than Ozzy)
And You Are?…these are celebs most likely to show up at every Oscar after-party, fashion show, movie premiere, and perhaps even the grand opening of a door if they know the paparazzi will be there (Kevin Federline, David Hasselhoff, Nick Lachey, Chyna, Tara Reid, Kim and Kloe Kardashian, the cast of the Hills and Vern Troyer (aka Mini-Me).
Enjoy the Oscars and everything that comes with it and feel free to make your own lists and categories or add to mine.