And the Golden Globe Goes to…

As a child, the television was a stranger to me.  The combination of my hyperactivity and overly competitive spirit compelled me into action elsewhere.  I had to run around.  I had to play sports, then try my hand at new ones I would create.  I had to feel the bark of a tree press into my hands as I climbed closer to heaven.  I had to taste life and everything it offered.

I had to be my parents’ worst nightmare.  So much so, they had to place boundaries on where I could go.  Like a dog with an electric fence.

There were only a few, rare occasions each year when I willingly sat, glued to the television, for extended periods of time.  On those icy winter nights, I turned on the tube and plopped down directly in front of it.  Alone.

“You like watching the Golden Globes?” members of my family would ask as they passed through the room.  “They’re so boring.  And the thank you speeches are so long and drawn-out.  You don’t even know the people they’re thanking.”

It was true.  I didn’t know anybody included in the speeches.  In fact, it was seldom that I had even seen the movies that won the awards.  Yet, on my little lot of carpet, I spent four hours rarely blinking or even closing my mouth.  To me, it was captivating.  I didn’t quite understand why I was so immensely attracted to these ceremonies, but each year they lured me in.  And I loved every moment of them.

In fact, when I was about 7 years old, my family went on a vacation to California.  When we walked into a gift shop, I begged my parents for a plastic Oscar labeled “Best Actress”.  Obliging their daughter’s insane obsession, they purchased the replica for me.  When we got home, I placed it on my bookshelf and eagerly imagined who I would thank for this award.  For years it remained at the forefront of my trinkets and I treasured it more than the real trophies I actually earned through athletics.

On the nights of these Hollywood ceremonies, however, I was not the “Best Actress”.  I was just a small, Midwestern girl whose jagged teeth poked through her partially opened mouth.  On commercial breaks, I tucked my shoulder-length bob behind my ears and swiftly swooshed to get snacks in my worn windbreaker.  I returned to my seat, inches from the screen that both separated and connected me to this enchanting event.  It was like Disney, but real.  Because these people created Disney.  And everything else like it.

“Scoot back,” my mother chimed as she sailed through the living room.  “It’s not good for your eyes when you sit so close to the TV.”

And then they came.  In all their splendor.  The women in their beautiful dresses and the men in dashing, similar-fashioned suits.  No one ever asked the men “who” they were wearing.  But that didn’t matter.  It wasn’t the glamor that was so attractive.  What mattered was that all of these extraordinarily gifted people–the best of the best in the movie-making world–had been corralled into one place.  And when that happens, something magical comes along with it.

Last night I was captivated once again by the Golden Globes awards ceremony.  I convinced my husband to watch it with me by intermittently switching the channel to the NFL playoffs during commercials.  It was the first awards show he had ever seen.  And I’m pretty sure he enjoyed “commercials” more than the main event.  I’m pretty sure most men would.  In fact, most people don’t like watching these award ceremonies.  In a recent Yahoo poll, 69% of people said they didn’t watch last night.  Even Ben Affleck thanked his wife for “sitting through all this” as he was accepting his award as Best Director.

I, on the other hand, was entranced by the evening for more than the twentieth time in my life.  However, as an adult, I can no longer blindly accept magic.  Usually.  After all, every grown-up knows about smoke, mirrors, and slight of hand.  So, I found a need to uncover the reason behind this unexplainable magnetic pull I’ve always felt towards Hollywood awards ceremonies.

As I began to search beyond the glitz and glamor of movie-magic, it occurred to me that these are the most brilliantly creative people in our country.  Perhaps in the world.  That, to me, is inspiring.

Not only are they incredibly brilliant people, I realized, they are your regular, run-of-the-mill artists–writers, actors, singers.  People who have struggled with their craft–perhaps even been defeated by it–and yet persevered, developed, and risen to the top.  Upon receiving the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, Anne Hathaway began, “Thanks for having me in this room full of extraordinary artists who have changed my life with their work.  And thank you for this lovely, blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt.”  She is not the only one who has clawed nail and tooth to get to the ceremony.  “I wanted to be an actor since I was a little girl,” Jessica Chastain admitted while receiving the Globe for her work in Zero Dark Thirty, “and I’ve worked for a really long time.  I’ve auditioned and struggled and fought and been on the sideline for years. And to be here now in this moment?  It’s a beautiful feeling to receive this encouragement and support.”

And those were the winners–the best at the craft.  Still facing self-doubts, still needing support and encouragement.  Because no matter what societal status they’ve acquired, the truth is that they’re still humans pursuing a vulnerable dream.

Clearly then, despite the glory of celebrity status and Hollywood awards ceremonies, working in the arts is not an easy profession.  The uncertainty of a paycheck combined with others’ conviction that you should find a ‘real job’ prove that pursuing the arts is not necessarily encouraged.  Unless you make it big.  And most artists never make it big.

Courtesy of the cameras, I glanced around the room.  People crowded each table to celebrate the story they helped create.  Their job is to tell stories with which we can relate, and thus, feel.  To exhilarate us, make us laugh or sob, or force us to think.  They, with their ‘superior’ celebrity status, work so that they can connect with us through art.  They work to compel us and change us in some way.  I wonder what the atmosphere is like when so many innovative people get together in one room?  What do conversations sound like when cameras cut to commercial?  With that in mind, I thought about my family’s open opinions and questions about the Golden Globes.

“Do you really like the Golden Globes?” echoed in my memory.  I wanted to go back in time and reply, “Do you really like movies?”

These ceremonies give us an inside peek at everything and everyone it takes to create our favorite films.  There was no college classmate who bailed on their portion of the group project, leaving all the work to one person.  Every single being at these gatherings brings a specific set of supreme skills to the movie-making table.  And it takes each of them to make the movies that have become etched into our being.

And here, in front of the world, they were being recognized for their contributions.  Without the promise of being successful, all of these people put their talents together simply because they could not imagine life any other way.  Because for them, life without creation is dull and unfulfilling.

When movie-makers begin a creative endeavor, it’s doubtful that their main objective is to receive a “blunt object”, as Anne Hathaway put it.  For it is not the trophy that means something, but rather what it stands for.

Yet, perhaps one of the best parts are those long, drawn-out “Thank you’s” my family so blatantly rejected.  To my ears, the bobbling of words during acceptance speeches cry out more than the words themselves.  No actor, artist, writer, or songstress can make it to the top on their own.  Throughout their lives, they’ve been molded, shaped, and refined by the support and wisdom of others.  Moreover, as a woman pursuing the arts, I can only imagine how gratifying it must be to have your work recognized.  Not for the glory of being acknowledged, but for the vindication that you haven’t been wasting your life.  That, yes, someone out there has felt, understood, and appreciated your work.  The work you’ve sacrificed and fought for.  The work you do despite daily self-doubts, rejection, and fear.  The work you do because you don’t know what you’d do otherwise.  So, at least for one night, you can quiet those relentless voices in your head.

That’s what I see when I watch the Globes.  It is so much more than the spoiled celebrity-dom we read about in the tabloids.  Beyond the exquisite wardrobes and the fancy designer names that go with them, lies a group of people.  People who have been given gifts which are much more valuable than the jewels on their dresses.  That’s the magic.

And I believe in it.

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