Last night, millions of movie buffs, entertainment fiends, and celebrity gawkers from across the globe tuned in for the Oscars. While a few of us aficionados waited with bated breath for the announcement of Best Live-Action Short (Timecode was robbed!), for many viewers the awards ceremony isn’t the main event: The red carpet is what they watch. To be sure, while wrapped in packaging of a serious cultural event, the Oscars are pure spectacle – complete with all the glitz and glamour you could ever hope for. It is also a revealing glimpse of that alluring, high-fashion, Hollywood lifestyle that many only dream of from afar.
The Oscars are much more than a celebration of art and culture and, historically, the ceremony has been used as a platform for the rich and famous to air their political grievances of the day. On that front, this was a banner year. While commentary on immigration, police brutality, and gender identity were the focus of a number speeches last night, there is another issue that always seems to be at the forefront of past awards ceremonies but was distinctly absent this year: Income inequality and economic fairness.
For years, conservative commentators have blasted the Oscars as nothing more than a platform for so-called “limousine liberals.” However, we take a different view. While there is certainly some irony in watching a millionaire filmmaker drone on about her deep and abiding concern for low-wage workers in Middle America, it’s no longer accurate to frame the Oscars as simply a venue for the “haves” to lecture the “have-nots.”
Far from it. In today’s America, by many practical measures, we share more in common with our celebrity brethren than ever before. Think about it: We no longer rely on television shows to allow us into the lives of the rich and famous. We live them.
Technology has broken down the barriers that divided our lives from theirs, and we no longer need the net worth of the Hollywood elite to live like them.
Want a private driver? Call an Uber. Want a yacht? Get one. Private plane? Enjoy the flight. Want a personal shopper, gardener, and a housekeeper? You can have those too. Want to party in Malibu? Rent out an Oscar winner’s house for the weekend.
Want to live in an Oscar-winning film? Airbnb took to Facebook and twitter to put folks in movies like Star Wars, The Departed, and La La Land. Not even the far-flung stories Hollywood writers weave are outside our grasp anymore.
Sure, we have a lot of work to do as a society. Framing it as a world of “haves” and “have nots,” however, misses the reality we live in today. The world of Robin Leach is gone, and we’re all beginning to realize it. Hollywood can have its award shows and exclusive after parties, but we can all live red-carpet lives.