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Oscar the Grouch

March 7, 2010

It’s often said that Washington DC is “Hollywood for ugly people”. Today, on a day which Hollywood (the industry, not the neighborhood) holds its annual day-long celebration of itself, it seems that that phrase would be more accurate in reverse: “Hollywood is Washington for pretty people”. Today’s ceremony, in which people obsess over clothing and hand out tiny statues – a process which apparently requires the closing of an entire subway station – is a naked reflection of the political realities of the film industry. Actresses and directors jockey for positions, perhaps hoping to leverage an Oscar win into higher pay for their next movie, or that their dream project might more easily be green lit. Any reflection an Oscar may have on the artistic merits of a film is pure coincidence.

Now, on the whole I don’t mind sharing my city with the entertainment industry. As long as you keep the irritating excesses and celebrity worship at arm’s length, there are benefits to be wrought: movies open earlier here; artists, designers, musicians, and other creative types can make a living in “the business” and carry out side projects here in town. But Hollywood (the industry) has a tendency to obscure from public view the aspects of the city which to me make it such an interesting place. Take the Sabor Y Cultura coffee house, one mile east of the Kodak theater. Sure, there are plenty of aspiring screenwriters and cinematographers who regularly come to sip coffee. But the place is run by people whose main goal isn’t to grace the silver screen but to run a nice, comfy coffee shop, where you don’t have to be a celeb to get in.

The Hollywood royalty can have their day, but us ordinary Angelenos should use this as a moment to appreciate some of the non-industry reasons why we like this place.

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