Searching for Sugar Man wins an Oscar–quite a contrast to Hollywood excess!

So many of you mentioned you didn’t care one whit about the Academy Awards. I just smiled. Once again, I’m aware that I’m influenced by my environment.

I can’t ignore Oscar talk unless I completely unplug from television, radio and print media.

The hype began a full week ago with the local reporters crying about street closures and security measures, warning to stay clear of particular intersections. That’s just a recipe for traffic congestion.

Now,  24-hours after the last award was presented, I’m sitting here listening to my radio while talk show hosts are still animated about the event. It’s  the usual rehashing of what worked and what didn’t but I’m reasonably certain  this is only a local conversation.

I am quite sure you aren’t thinking about The Oscar Economy!

I’m not talking about the local economy’s direct boost from the film industry–not the jobs that are generated by all the supporting crafts while movies are being made. Oh no!

The Variety building on Wilshire Boulvevard

The Variety building on Wilshire Blvd.

Let’s start with the Best Picture campaign, shall we? How badly does the studio want their film to win in this category? Follow the money. Full page ads in Variety Magazine and other trade publications can cost up to 15 million dollars or more.

No one would really want to BUY an award, would they?

Shall we pause a minute just taking that in? $15 million!

And I don’t know why the celebrity attendees needed party favors, but according to USA Today, we don’t need to feel too badly for those who didn’t win a statuette. They still walked away with swag bags valued at more than $47,000.

Staggering, isn’t it? Well, not as amazing as what is included in the party bag.

How about a $12,000 trip to Lizard Island in Australia?

And there’s my personal favorite, a $5,000 Vampire face lift! I didn’t make this up. I’m not sure I want details, but your own blood is somehow involved in this procedure.

Then there’s the food. What did you have for dinner last night? I had a Panini.

The celebrities ate a little better.

Wolfgang Puck reported spending $25,000 on truffles for the Governors Ball menu. I like truffles, but in the end that’s a lot of money for mushrooms!

$42,000 of Möet & Chandon bubbly was served at the after party, and after all that drinking, it’s probably a very good thing that most celebrities were escorted by a car and driver–at between $1,000 and $3750. But to be fair, maybe that’s not too extravagant–do you think the celebrities carpooled?

Don’t forget gowns and jewelry, much of it on loan, but there are hair and makeup expenses–quoted as high as $11,000 for just the styling and in-home spa services.

Add to the other expenses personal security detail at up to $3,000 for the night, and then, of course, the Oscar himself–the little gold men cost somewhere close to $500 a piece.

So perhaps this is why there is so much Oscar talk in Los Angeles. That is a lot of money being poured into the local economy. I like thinking of the companies and individuals who benefit, but the over-the-top glitz, glamor and excess is a little shocking.

In contrast…

I was delighted to see the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” win the Oscar in the Best Documentary category. Sixto Rodriguez failed to make an impact in North America in the early 1970s, but his albums gained airplay in South Africa, Botswana, Rhodesia, New Zealand and Australia.

The thing that makes this story more interesting, however, is that Rodriguez gave up his American career, with no idea he’d gained Elvis-level notoriety and fame, particularly in South Africa where his songs served as anti-Apartheid anthems influencing many musicians to protest the government.

I don’t want to spoil the impact and surprises in this story so I won’t add more details, except to say the documentary is really quite remarkable.

And in contrast to Hollywood celebrity narcissism, this very talented, but humble man avoided coming to the Oscar event, with no need for the limelight and attention.

Swedish director, Malik Bendejelloul said, “Rodriguez isn’t here tonight, because he didn’t want to take any of the credit himself and that just about says everything about that man and his story you’d want to know.”

This is a fabulous, inspiring story and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all. This humble man is very talented, and doesn’t seem to carry disappointment or regret about all the years he was presumed dead, losing out on music royalties and the attention that comes with celebrity.

I wonder how many of Sunday nights Oscar crowd could say the same?

The video tells quite a bit of the story, so if you’d rather not know how some of the mystery of his past unfolds, skip the YouTube and just go out and rent the DVD. You won’t be disappointed!

35 thoughts on “Searching for Sugar Man wins an Oscar–quite a contrast to Hollywood excess!

  1. Thank you for this, Debra. Once Oscar season approaches, I really don’t know who to believe when it comes to finding a film to watch. Every film is destined for greatness and the more superlatives used, the smaller the font used for the reviewer’s name. It can be especially frustrating with documentaires being they often deal in controversy. Getting a recommendation from one whose opinion I value is heaven-sent. I’ve a Pinterest board for movies, a result from following a couple classic movie-based blogs. “Searching for Sugar Man” just made the list.

    • When you see the documentary, I hope you might remember to tell me. I have a couple of other comments, but I don’t want to share them when it’s still circulating! I am glad you took my “review” to hear, John, because I almost wondered if I’d oversold it! LOL! I am now a fan of Sixto Rodriguez, and hope he does very well in the coming years. I think he will!

  2. I didn’t watch the Oscars because they put them on so late at night here then pump them full of ad breaks so it drags out to over four hours of torture. I viewed highlights on my computer and I think I saw the best of it. Daniel Day Lewis – what a humble man. So well spoken, such a great speech, love how he gave credit to his wife, love how he can be so talented and successful yet stay away from the paps and what an inspiring actor he is. Apart from him and a few others, thought the show was tacky. Who was the compere? He would have had a team of writers behind him being paid excessive amounts of money yet all they could come up with was locker room humour. Bring back Hugh Jackman – he brought class to the Oscars xx

    • Unfortunately, I think the average age they’re trying to attract is probably 30, and the lowest common denominator is what they aim for, so in that way, they hit their target! LOL! Hugh Jackman did bring class to the Oscars, and then they complained about him for days on end. I’ll never understand. Fortunately, we watch it at 5:00 in the evening, and it’s all over by 9! Makes it easy…but yes to Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s a gem! oxo

  3. Those figures make my head spin, Debra. I haven’t watched the Oscars for many years, but do catch up with who won what next day. Go Daniel Day-Lewis! :-) The documentary film does seem to be a very worthy winner.

    • I was so happy for Daniel Day-Lewis’s win, too, Perpetua! He strikes me as a nice man on top of so very talented! If you ever have the opportunity to see the documentary I will tell you it is very uplifting. I can’t stop thinking about it. :-)

  4. I find your information MUCH more interesting than the Academy Awards themselves! This whole thing about buying awards and/or manipulating numbers and votes has gotten so out of control. I just read about an author who bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list, and how about all those fake Amazon book reviews that new authors used to catapult themselves onto that bestseller list? To me, that’s a hollow victory and I’d feel no sense of accomplishment. It says to me that they don’t even believe in their own work enough to let it shine on its own. How pathetic!

    • I did hear about the Amazon “review” scandal, and that really bothered me. It is very clear that everyone doesn’t define integrity in the same way! Shockingly so. I don’t know that it’s good for the rest of us to have to absolutely question everything, but our critical thinking hats can’t come off for even a minute! :-)

  5. I echo Raising Daisy’s last sentence about folks who “buy their awards” . . . how pathetic! All the excess glitz and glam just rubs me the wrong way.

    I did watch the opening of the Oscars and LOVED the song . . . “We saw your boobs!” :mrgreen:

  6. We listened to Sixto Rodriguez in Rhodesia and South Africa and a lot of his music went on for years… assumed dead .. pity no one found him sooner.. a great musician…

    • I am a new fan of Rodriguez’s music, BD. I think his voice is just wonderful, and I like the songs very much. I thought of you when I was watching the documentary so I’m glad you let me know you were well aware of him. Apparently he is now touring to packed crowds! I am in awe of his situation–and can’t imagine what his children are thinking now! :-)

  7. I’m so glad you wrote about this, Debra, because I need to put that movie on my list.

    As for the rest of it, it’s the American Way. I try not to be too critical, because someday, I shall have a book to promote. But, it is hard knowing just how much of our hyped-up stuff is fabricated and how little of it is real.

    And, how few people really know the difference. Or care.

    • I hope you do find the time to see the documentary, Andra, as it is a riveting story! And you’re absolutely right about American consumerism (and excess) being the currency of our country. Like it or not, we rely upon it! I’m not in any way advocating that we dismantle the Hollywood system as it stands. I have many friends tied to the support roles, and their work is dependent upon the success of the film industry. Southern California would collapse if things changed too much! LOL!

  8. I did see a newsmagazine piece on Searching for Sugar Man and was amazed at his story. It was good the documentary got its just attention, and equally as good that you posted about it.

    I’ve always been puzzled by why all those of celebrity status need those bags with all those expensive items. For an industry that often brings us stories of the downtrodden, rags to riches sagas, against all odd folks of the world, why do they need such ostentatious goody bags? Ah, it all gets back to money, doesn’t it? Like those Oscars. I’ll fret about the goody bag goodies, but, defend the little Oscar BECAUSE he is manufactured in Chicago and it gives 150 or so people a job. I think I just got off of a soapbox, sigh. Oh well. Off I go to shovel . . . snow. You’re the best, Debra. Thanks for such a good post.

    • I hope at some point you might see the documentary, Penny, as it covers so many different aspects that simply amazed me! The gentlemen who were so curious and searched for him, the amazement of his family upon learning he’d been “famous” all that time, and then his coworkers here in the United States adjusting their image of him! And then there’s the backdrop of how his music became an anthem for reform in South Africa…and he knew nothing about this! Jay and I never moved during this entire documentary, but sat riveted! OK…I’ve probably now oversold it. Ha!

      And I am so glad to hear you say the same thing I’ve been reflecting upon with the excesses associated with the Oscars…I can’t wrap my head around the idea that money is spent so lavishly, yet at the same time, I think of the businesses that at this point completely rely upon this one event as an industry, and don’t want them to collapse. I’m glad I’m not being asked to solve the problems or be the “values police.” I do need to know a little bit more about what a vampire facelift is…what a horrible name for something. Ha! oxo

  9. “Searching For Sugar Man” Aye.
    I have not been very aware of movies these days. I used to watch a lot of foreign films and documentary films. Blogging has kind of take over my “entertainment”. :D … as well my library. ;)
    Well, the bling blings and the luxury you explained here is kind of the reason why I stopped watching the tubes. I want real people’s stories and creativity now. ;)
    I did watch most of the nominated movies this year as I do every Oscar season.

  10. The over the top excess of Hollywood is very off putting and I don’t watch the Oscars. The swag bags given to all the stars…don’t let me get started on that. I am familiar with Sugar Man…why couldn’t all the stars take something away from the documentary and be a little like the humble man and refuse the swag bags or give what is inside to charities. Sorry to rant on your lovely blog…I must take a deep breath and breath lighter. :)

    • I loved your comments regarding the Oscars, Karen. I think the bottom line of all the excess is that in some strange way the money that is spent seems to be tied to mechanisms that generate more money! It’s a façade of sorts, but then so is all of Hollywood. I know a great many people employed in the industry, so I suppose I have mixed feelings, at best. But it does fascinate me, perhaps because it isn’t like anything else I can think of. I do hope at some point you might see the documentary I noted. “Searching for Sugar Man” was so heartwarming! I can’t stop promoting it! :-)

  11. I certainly don’t mind the wallowing in success using entertainment profits, as opposed to our apes-in-office doing it with taxpayer funds.
    For humble read shy and self-effacing – not necessarity virtues, in my book.

    • It’s true that Hollywood excess is still connected to generating even more profits…I don’t have to understand the mechanism to know that investors find the practices necessary. Apes-in-office–great picture there! :-)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed a little “Oscar talk,” Kate. I find the whole business end of the studios and film promotion just fascinating. I am not even certain exactly how I feel about it all…between hardline business decisions and the façade that comes with fantasy, it’s hard for me to be completely clear in my own thoughts! But observations don’t need too much judgment! Ha!

    • Thank you so very much, Thea. Very kind of you! And I do hope at some point you will find a copy of the documentary “Waiting for Sugar Man,” and I can guarantee you’ll be so glad you did! It’s absolutely worth the time! :-)

  12. Dear Debra, I’ll get the DVD, thanks for telling us about it and him. I just shake my head over the inanity of such excesses as you describe for the Oscars. Millions of people go to bed hungry every night around the globe and in the United States. How many young people could all that money send on to a better education. How much heat would it provide for families on the Native American reservations where every winter old men and women die of the cold? It’s almost immoral. Peace.

    • I appreciated your comments about the way that Hollywood spends money so lavishly on things that don’t make any lasting impact, Dee. I wish I could have a conversation with someone capable of really telling me more about the way the “economic machine” really works. I suspect that however it got started it now takes money to promote and then make more money. It’s all over my head, I’m sure! I do like to hear about some of the celebrities who really do use their tremendous wealth to support many charitable organizations and efforts, and that at least softens the blow of hearing about thousands of dollars being spent on what sounds really strange to me, like Vampire Facelifts? Imagine! Ha! I can’t! oxo

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