Dear Hollywood Celebrities,
We don't hate you because you're famous. We don't hate you because you're rich. We don't hate you because you're beautiful. (I'm talking to you, Bruce Dern.)
We hate you because of your crappy acceptance speeches. Well, that and because you're famous.
Actually, I'm using the word "speech" incorrectly. A speech has a point, a purpose. A speech inspires, it enlightens. A "speech" is not twenty minutes of thanking people. Or at least it feels like twenty minutes when you're rambling on with nothing to say.
Congratulations on your Academy Award nominations. Personally, I would've voted for Jean-Claude Van Damme in Timecop. But you guys were good, too. Now if you win... give a real speech! Say something!
In 2003, actress Charlize Theron won an Oscar for Monster, in which she portrayed real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who spent her life in dysfunctional settings, surrounded by abusive individuals. Charlize Theron, when she stood in front of the microphone, could've talked about the consequences of domestic violence. She could have spoken about women in dire plights, forced into prostitution. She could have pontificated about the victims of crime. But she didn't say anything about that stuff. Instead, she thanked her agent and her lawyer. (Seriously. She really did.)
In 1995, Nicolas Cage won a Best Actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas. The movie was about alcoholism and depression. But Cage didn't speak about those topics. Instead, he just stood up and thanked people. I wonder who he thanked for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance? (And by "thanked", I mean "blamed.")
Give a speech!
When you win an Academy Award, millions of people are watching you. Or in the case of the Golden Globes, thousands of people. This is your opportunity to be heard. There are so many people who would give anything for those three minutes, to have that time to express themselves in a meaningful way. (Yeah, they say you only get 45 seconds. But you're A-listers. They'll give you a few extra minutes.) And yet you are using that time to... thank your hair stylist? This is why we hate you.
Give a speech!
Stop thanking people. You can thank your acting teacher later. Give him a call after the show. You can thank your publicist later in the night, at the Vanity Fair party. We don't know these people you're thanking. We've never heard of them. This is not a dinner party. This is a television show. To thank people that none of us know or care about is just rude. If I was interested in people I don't know or care about, I would have gone to my high school reunion.
Don't thank your spouse. Your spouse had nothing to do with the movie. Do you thank your cinematographer during your wedding vows? And unlike your spouse, I actually paid to see your movie; your spouse saw it for free. You should be thanking me. (And if anyone from American Hustle wins, they should really be thanking me. God was that overrated.)
Give a speech! Say something! Say something about your movie. Talk about the significance of the film's themes. Explain why you think the characters resonated with audiences. Complain that those Tyler Perry Madea movies never get nominated. But say something.
Write your speech down on paper. Work on it. Take a few days. Ask for help if you need it. When you walk onto the stage, have something to say. Don't waste our time being overwhelmed. You're not so overwhelmed. And even if you are, then fake it. Pretend to be someone with composure. Do you know who is supposed to be good at standing on a stage and talking in front of an audience while pretending to be someone else? Actors.
Practice your speech. Be prepared. Don't improvise. This is the Academy Awards, not a Christopher Guest movie. Abraham Lincoln didn't improvise the Gettysburg Address. And even if he did, you're not Abraham Lincoln... unless you're Daniel Day-Lewis, who won an Academy Award for playing the former President... and then used his acceptance speech to thank his wife.
Speak articulately and eloquently. Show class. Don't act shocked when they call your name. If David Spade wins for Grown Ups 2, that would be shocking. But if you win, it's not shocking. You were nominated. Then you spend another month preparing for the ceremony. Then you sit there, waiting for your name to be called. How shocked can you possibly be? It's like if your friend throws you a surprise party, then okay -- maybe you're shocked when you first walk in the living room and everyone jumps up from behind the couch, but if you're still shocked by the time the guests are on their second piece of cake... well then you're just annoying.
Give a speech!
And don't thank people.
Do you consider this award an honor? Then treat it with respect. Bring the same depth to your acceptance speech that you brought to your film role. Make the same effort on your acceptance speech that you did on picking out your outfit. You have the pulpit. Don't waste this opportunity. Be memorable. Be the "Bjork swan dress" of speeches. We want to love you.
Give a real speech. And I look forward to reading about it on-line, the morning after. Oh, I could watch the Academy Awards telecast live, I suppose. But I'll probably just end up watching a repeat of Family Guy or Cheers or something on cable. That's what I usually wind up doing.