Jen Krueger: Forgoing the Gold
This year is the first time in my life that the Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards have fallen in the same month. Because I grew up with a great love for watching both figure skating and movies, it seems like 2014 should be a banner year for me to tune into the events that represent the highest level of competition in these two pastimes. Instead, 2014 is the first year that I watched neither.
Some of my lack of interest in watching either of these ceremonies came from the fact that a bit of the magic has worn off as I’ve gotten older. The pageantry in the presentation of both events that impressed me as a kid doesn’t seem quite so stunning now that I’ve got a bigger mental catalogue of past Olympics and Oscars with which to compare the present iterations. Rooting for my favorite contender has similarly become old hat now that I have years of doing so under my belt (many of which were years where I was disappointed). What seemed special to me as a kid now as an adult seems like something I’ve seen many times before, because I literally have done so. If my perception of the Olympics and Oscars changing with age was the only thing affecting my interest in watching the ceremonies though, I’d still have tuned in to both this year. Even if the pageantry surrounding the ceremonies isn’t impressive to me anymore, there’s no denying the fact that the athletes and filmmakers are doing amazing and inspiring things worth celebrating. That is content I’m still interested in seeing, and seeing rewarded. But it is also content that is now overshadowed by its own coverage.
Oscar buzz seems to start earlier every year. I admit that living in Los Angeles means I’m subjected to more of it; with the Academy sending out DVD screeners of all potential nominees to Academy voters starting in November in order to decide who’s even up for the awards, I start hearing and seeing discussions about a ceremony that occurs in February before I’ve even left L.A. for Thanksgiving. But even if I wasn’t subjected to the industry obsession with the awards, there’s still much more coverage of them in print and online now than there was even five years ago. Speculation, nominee interviews, and behind-the-scenes looks are everywhere for weeks before the broadcast. Where posting personal picks on social media used to be the realm of only the cinephile-est people I knew, it’s now become the norm for all of my friends. And of course, the ceremony itself is preceded by a red carpet special where the most glamorous of the nominees can show off what they’re wearing while giving the same sound bite they’ve been giving for weeks. Before the actual ceremony even starts, I’m sick of hearing about the Academy Awards.
Perhaps it’s unfair for me to complain about a similar level of media saturation for the Winter Olympics when they occur only every four years. Fair or not though, by the time an Olympic opening ceremony begins, I’ve already lost interest in the games themselves. While intended to build up the human interest side of the games, the glut of articles examining athlete backgrounds and prospects to medal leaves my heartstrings pulled in too many directions to invest in any of them. And though the Sochi Olympics admittedly had an unique angle to the pre-games coverage what with the remarkable lack of preparedness of the city, even this wore thin for me after just a few athletes and journalists tweeted about their horrible accommodations since the copious reports that emerged all hit the same note.
Though I didn’t miss watching either this year, it still bummed me out to be so burned out on the Winter Olympics and Academy Awards. I want to want to watch them, and I’m sure that I could again in the future if I could find a way to avoid all the external details that overshadow the competitions themselves. Until then, I’ll just find videos online of Ilia Kulik’s gold medal performance and Martin Scorsese’s acceptance speech. Moments like those speak for themselves.