Saturday, April 20

Want to save the 2022 Oscars? How about a firehose of rice pudding? | oscars 2022

This is a perilous time for the Oscars. Last year’s ceremony – held in a train station, don’t forget – was watched by just a tiny dribble of viewers. This year, the lack of a televised Golden Globes has hobbled awards season, and anticipation is at an all-time low. The Academy’s plan to lure viewers by handing out a bunch of awards off-screen has been widely criticized by the film-making community. Simply put, things are getting desperate.

But we’ve all thrown parties without knowing whether anyone will actually turn up, and the Oscars are currently doing the most sensible thing possible: they’re focusing on the catering.

A press release announced that the menu at this year’s Governors Ball – essentially, the official afterparty that everyone pops into before heading on to other, better afterparties – will be a collaboration between Wolfgang Puck and the “Bronx-based culinary collective” Ghetto Gastro. As the release put it: “Merging food, fashion, music, art and design, Ghetto Gastro’s work masterfully blends influences from the African diaspora, global south ingredients and hip-hop to create offerings that address race, identity and economic empowerment.”

Not to be down on the sentiment, but a large proportion of the Governors Ball attendees will be millionaires who just lost out on an award in front of a global audience. Is there a demographic less likely to appreciate a mixed-media food selection designed to address identity and economic empowerment?

But it’s OK, because if Ghetto Gastro doesn’t float everyone’s boat, guests can eat the food prepared by Wolfgang Puck’s team, which is said to include “spicy tuna cones” and “smoked salmon Oscars”. Not everyone at the Governors Ball can win an Oscar, but they can eat a slice of fish that looks a bit like an Oscar.

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You can’t help feeling, though, that none of these offerings will go down particularly well. You don’t have to be an Academy Awards historian to know that the best part of any Oscar night is when someone gets the burgers out. This tends to happen at the Vanity Fair party and, when it does, it’s like feeding time at the zoo.

After all, what are the Oscars if not the culmination of a season during which hundreds of already thin people have denied themselves calories in an effort to squeeze into uncomfortably tight outfits? It sounds hellish. When Ellen DeGeneres hosted in 2014, there was a segment where pizzas were brought to the ceremony with a great procession, and the cries of hungry delight from the assembled A-listers was chilling. So imagine how furiously the same people would fall on a plate of hamburgers when the cameras stop rolling. They deserve it, too. Those burgers are the real award.

My advice for next year’s awards is to forget about Wolfgang Puck and Ghetto Gastro. Leave the salmon Oscars at home. Instead, let’s replace them with an all-you-can-eat carb station. Bread rolls fired out of T-shirt cannons. Troughs packed to the brim with mashed potatoes. A firehose that shoots a jet of hot rice pudding directly into the face of anyone who walks into the room. This is what Hollywood wants. This is what Hollywood needs. This, with no exaggeration, is the only thing that can save the Oscars.

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