Why we cry when our favorite stars lose
And the Oscar goes to… not your favorite.
Awards season brings out the best — and the worst — in celebrity life. It’s easy to crack your knuckles and launch a Twitter tirade the moment you feel someone has been robbed of a trophy they deserve. But why do you even care so much?
Score it against our culture’s general obsession with celebrities. But don’t let your feelings about these stars consume you.
“Fans of any media event need to recognize its entertainment function and deliberately create a disconnect between on-screen art and real life,” said Melvin Williams, associate professor of communications and media studies at Pace University. “It’s natural to be disappointed when a favorite star doesn’t win. However, don’t let it last longer or endanger your mental health.”
Why do we care so much about awards, celebrities?
Most of us don’t meet celebrities every day. This means they can be a vessel for our hopes, dreams, and disappointments, unlike real people we engage with.
“Stars are a blank canvas onto which we can project any emotion we want — which of course includes both hate and love — at any intensity,” says David Schmid, associate professor of English at the University of Buffalo.
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When the intensity is too high, there are usually some deeper problems.
“From my own observations, most individuals who engage in celebrity worship at a borderline pathological level were probably already suffering from some form of mental illness before they became so involved in celebrity worship,” says Gayle Stever, a professor of psychology at SUNY Empire State College, previously told USA TODAY.
However, there has been an upsurge in recent years that has called for more diversity in awards ceremonies. Any feelings of frustration in our private lives related to race and identity in society can affect its representation in art and when it is honored.
“Typically in such cases, there has been an over-identification with an actor or artist and the outcome of a pricing decision,” says Glen Robert Gill, associate professor of classics and humanities at Montclair State University. “The viewer has tied some aspect of their self-identity to whether the star wins or not.”
Though the lines can get blurred, remember that without society’s gold standard of recognition, a film or performance can mean something.
“Representation at an awards show is important, but it can’t be more important than representation in the art itself, so we can’t put the cart before the horse or put the award above the film, so to speak,” Gil adds.
So if your favorite actor loses on Oscar night…
- Nobody “stole” anything. “Remember, nothing was taken away, nothing was lost,” Gil says. “The film and the achievement you appreciated are still here, and your appreciation and that of the community remains untouched. And that fact, in turn, says something about these awards.”
- Recognize when there might be a problem. “If your negative reaction or frustration with the outcome of an award outweighs your positive reaction or appreciation for the film or performance you were trying to win, you may want to reconsider your priorities,” Gil adds.
- It’s okay to pour some energy into it. Of course, invest during an awards ceremony and especially Oscar night if you like. Just prepare yourself. As Schmid says, “Regarding this year’s Oscars, I expect an outburst of negative emotion if Michelle Yeoh doesn’t win Best Actress.”
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