The Academy Ad-Wards

The endless awards season is all one big commercial masquerading as entertainment. So why not drop the pretense and put together the ultimate mash-up: Oscars for Super Bowl ads.

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011  |  Updated 11:00 PM EDT
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A pint-size Darth Vader tries to use the force.

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Our endurance for the endless awards season officially cracked Sunday when Lady Gaga arrived at the Grammys in a giant egg.

We’re choosing to see her onstage hatching as another sign of a popular culture where award shows have gone beyond a meaningless validation (or invalidation) of what we like to mutating into outsized spectacles and even calls to action. (Case in point: the teenybopper virtual egging of the prodigiously talented Esperanza Spalding after she beat pop idol Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy.)

We're also to the point where the competition itself isn't entertainment enough, no mater what the venue. In baseball stadiums, we're treated to inane between-innings races between wannabe mascots dressed in lame hot dog, relish and mustard costumes. At the Grammys, Gaga’s visual egg-stravaganza spurred as much chatter as whether her “Born This Way” is an homage to Madonna's “Express Yourself” or something less respectful. And long after the big game, there’s arguably more post-Super Sunday buzz about the $100,000-per-second commercials than Green Bay's victory.

The awards-show slog really is all just one big commercial with more ads – and the commercial-laden Super Bowl – in-between.

Which got us thinking: With the Academy Awards, the biggest ad of them all, capping the winter edition of the silly season on Feb. 27, why not take a page from the Gaga playbook and do a mash-up?

Our modest proposal: spicing up the Oscars with awards for Super Bowl commercials.

Imagine some of the categories and winners: The “Toy Story 3" Sugar Coma Award (to Volkswagen for the sweet "Darth Vader" spot). The "Social Network" Distrust of Internet Companies Award (to Go Daddy for putting Joan Rivers' face on a model's body). The "King's Speech" Get-to-the-Bloody-Point-Already Award (to Groupon for its since-pulled "Save the Money" stealth charity ads).

If all that seems silly, it's not much more so than endlessly making entertainment out of entertainers endlessly celebrating themselves – or turning commercials shown during a sporting event into a sporting event itself.

The only thing they don't have are trophies for those of us masochistic marathoners who sit through it all. Now there’s an idea for an awards show…
 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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