Carnett: The slings and arrows of award season

Thank heaven the incessant hype is over.

At least for a few months.

"Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air.... We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded in sleep."

Mercifully, the 2013 Academy Awards sprites have dreamed their public dreams and now lie in tranquil repose in Hollywood's catacombs. The coronation has concluded. Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ang Lee et al. are the latest to have gone from being mere mortals to putting on a cloak of invincibility.

Can we now please move on?

BTW, who spoke the memorable words quoted at the top of this column? Perhaps it was this year's Oscars host, Seth MacFarlane? Uh, maybe not. I'm being snarky. They were uttered by Prospero centuries ago in Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

They seem to perfectly capture the essence of our annual Oscar kerfuffle.

Funny, I haven't seen or read "The Tempest" since my college days — I'm more of a "Midsummer Night's Dream" guy –- nor have I viewed the interminable Academy Awards telecast in a good 30 winters running. I think the last time I caught the broadcast was, oh, about 1983 when Johnny Carson was host.

"Johnny who?" some ask.

Thank goodness Mr. Oscar of 2013 has melted into thin air and gone back to slumbering for the next six months, and my favorite newspaper can now begin covering something other than the Oscars and Lakers.

One grows weary of narcissists.

From reviews I've read regarding this year's ceremony, I don't think I missed much. Let's see: Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her Dior gown and fell while racing breathlessly to collect her statuette; MacFarlane told an endless stream of tasteless, misogynistic jokes; and one female presenter's smooth complexion looked freakishly zombie-esque.

And the ratings were up.

That pretty much captures it.

Though I'm a fan of the cinema, I'm not a fan of Hollywood's annual self-aggrandizing bacchanal. Lest I appear stodgy, I freely admit that I regularly watch lots of Hollywood and international fare, plus a wide assortment of classic motion pictures. I am, plain and simple, a movie fan.

But I'm no slavish sycophant.

I once attended an Academy Awards-type ceremony.

It was May of 1963 and Orange Coast College's Drama Club hosted its first — and I think last — awards banquet at the old Newporter Inn in Newport Beach. The club gave out its acting and directing awards for the 1962-63 academic year. The awards were labeled "The Minnies."

The Minnie was a miniature statuette that bore a striking resemblance to Oscar's diminutive second cousin, Olav, of Minneapolis.

I won the Minnie for best supporting actor for a role I played that year in Thornton Wilder's comedy, "The Matchmaker."

I have to admit I was excited but, no, I didn't trip as I raced to the podium to claim my Minnie. I played it cool. No gushy acceptance speech, either.

I must say that I was touched by the honor because the acting bug in those days had taken a serious bite out of my backside. Broadway, not Hollywood, was my desired destination.

Exactly one year later — in the spring and summer of 1964 — I was on Broadway all right, but not in a way I'd envisioned.

Nine months after winning my best supporting actor Minnie, and disillusioned at not having made progress in an acting career, I joined the Army. Pragmatically, I'd reached the sobering conclusion that acting wouldn't put food on the Carnett table, so I sucked it up and got on with life.

While stationed in New York I took advantage of my military discount and viewed lots of wonderful Broadway shows. After three years of military service I returned home and finished college.

I've never regretted my decision. In the intervening years I've fostered an appreciation for theatrical performances, and I've often secretly told myself, "I could do that if I wished." But I haven't wished.

Bottom line, the Red Carpet holds no allure for this cranky son of Thespis.

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Wednesdays.

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