Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday Night Not-So-Live

Award show season is in full swing at our house. For some people, that might mean an uptick in appearance of expensively dressed people crying in front of acrylic podia, glimpsed for an instant during nightly remote flipthroughs. Here, it means printed ballots, wagers, fashion analysis and much – much -- sideline commentary. (To quote my pal Joel during a recent visit, “Don’t you girls ever stop chattering and just watch the televison?”)

The answer, Joel?  Not so much. We prefer to misconstrue, gossip, ponder and generally pay as little attention as possible. There is a slightly increased focus during the Miss America pageant, since actual cash money is riding on that one. The crowd at our house was almost universally positive that the winner would be Miss Arkansas, a yodeling ventriloquist (you read it right the first time) who seemed unstoppable. She was stopped, it turned out, by a heavenward pointing 17-year-old from Nebraska, and we losers tore up our ballots in disbelief, roaring our terrible roars and gnashing our terrible teeth. Except for one of us. In a scenario we’ve seen played out at every raffle and jelly-bean-counting contest for the past 15 years, Emma, it turned out, was the only person who had guessed correctly, and she walked away with a crisp fiver and bragging rights that will last until January two thousand and twelve.

An awards show evening is not an orderly affair in these parts. Confusion tends to reign supreme, as at least half of anyone gathered has no idea of what is being broadcast at any given time. Adults are not immune to this phenomenon, and are, perhaps, the worst offenders. At least I am. During the Golden Globes, I glanced up briefly from my newspaper and saw someone I decided was “the other Asian” from Glee. I indicated as such, pleased that a minor player got to present a big award on stage. The “nos” from the crowd led me to gasp, “The kid who plays Other Asian isn’t really Asian?” “He’s not that guy!” they shouted back. Another pal, closer to the television and with vastly better eyesight, started it all up again by saying of the young man up on the screen, “Wait, this guy doesn’t look Asian; are you sure?” I went back to my newspaper, confused.

And so it goes.

Tonight is the Grammy Awards Ceremony, and we’ll follow the same routine we’ve held to for some time now – taping of all the red carpet preshows, engaging in much dawdling to gather everyone in the living room (“Wait!  I need more Fresca!”) and a planned hour-or-so delay so that we can speed through commercials and boring people (boredom being determined by the vocal majority, usually defined as any man other than a certified hottie, and anyone over 30).

Hanging over our heads is the knowledge that if we move too swiftly through the dreck, churning the white Tivo triangle along the green bar of captured programming, we will eventually hit the hardest moment of the evening – when we lose the ability to escape from real time and are forced to sit through the broadcast like all the other chumps in that auditorium in LA in the middle of the afternoon. It’s like being torn out of the VIP Lounge and dumped in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The evening deflates quickly once we cross the reality line, and no one seems to care as much about the awards, the outfits or the backstories. People (me first; it’s in my contract) drift up to bed, and it’s rare that we're around to witness the big award of the night, whatever that is. 

We are, it turns out, much happier in the fast forward mode; none of us cope gracefully with the heavy pull of real-time. And I still can’t figure out if Mike Chang really is Asian.

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