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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Glamor Or No Glamor

By Silvia Uribe

I love Oscar night! At home, my family and I get ready for the event every year. We buy selected ingredients to make fine and delicious "hors d'oeuvres" such as smoked oysters mousse with a hint of jalapeno, dried plums filled with toasted almonds, and covered with bacon, and other delicacies prepared by yours truly. Two or three different types of cheese, grapes, crackers, and wine, soda or water -depending on the taker's age and taste- complete the picture -no pun intended.

The attendees are three different generations of women - my mother, my two adult daughters, and myself. My husband plays the role of a ghost guest. He sneaks in and out of the room with two purposes: to enjoy the food and to be amused by our comments and actions.

Our experience each year is a standing occasion to be silly together for a few hours. We eat. We change seats (depending on how close we want to be to the food). We imitate actors and actresses' speeches, movements or posing styles, and we laugh until we cry. We've considered having guests, but we refrain ourselves for fear of social ridicule.

The Oscar night is the only night that we allow ourselves to be critical of other congeners regarding the way they look, and how they dress. We judge their hairdo shoes, rings, earrings, and necklaces. The make up is crucial for my youngest daughter. She tells us about the techniques that "so and so" used to enhance her eyes, or to disguise her imperceptible double chin, or to emphasize her cheek bones. My mother has an expert eye for walking styles and mannerisms. My oldest argues about dresses as if she was a "haute-couture" designer, and my thing is the person's image as a whole, and how comfortable he or she seems to be in their own body.

With so many experts in so many fields, there still are lots of things to discuss as a group. The show, namely the stage, the lighting, the dances, the songs, the presenters, and how funny or or creative (or not) they are. Who did better, or worse and why? What was moving, unexpected, and what made us reflect a little deeper? Oh, and let's not forget about the political statements during the speeches. Gay Marriage took precedence this year!

We are used to seeing lots of glamour from beginning to end. But this year, was different. Glamour in the production of the Oscar night was drastically scaled down. So, our conversation focused a lot on that. We observed that the location seemed to be way smaller. There was no big stage, or a big production with moving panels, nor changes of colors and appearance. Actors were almost seated on each other's lap. I actually liked the fact that the public was almost surrounding the stage, giving an impression of a more intimate event.

Some of us didn't think much about it, but others were unhappy. An argument started. The group was divided. My youngest and I accepted the fact that these are hard times for most people. Having the Oscars going overboard, would have been inappropriate. Furthermore, we thought that it might be a good idea to be more modest, not only for the time being, but from now on.

Our counterparts couldn't disagree more. They thought that in difficult times, when people go to a show or watch it on TV, they don't want to be reminded of their own hardships. They want to be taken away from their own hard reality to feel good with the notion that some things remain status quo.

Ones with this viewpoint had only harsh things to say about the stage that resembled an old brick building in the background. It was rather dark and depressing. The changes on the front were no better, they thought. Everything seemed so cheap? "We all deserve better from an industry that makes so much money thanks to us, the public", they concluded.

There was one thing in which we found common ground. We all thought that the personal messages that the Oscar winners gave to the Oscar nominees were a nice addition to an otherwise quite superficial event.

What do you think?

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

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