Tuesday

November 13th, 2018

Life

At Oscars time, let's snub the snubbing

Mary Schmich

By Mary Schmich

Published Jan. 25, 2018

Well, it's Oscar season again, time to revel in what makes this award so special and exciting.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present: The Snubs!

James Franco was snubbed. ("James Franco Goes Surfing Day Before Oscar Snub," TMZ reported.)

"Wonder Woman" was snubbed. (A "major snub," said Forbes.)

Jessica Chastain, Armie Hammer, Tom Hanks, snubbed, snubbed, snubbed.

"Biggest Surprises and Snubs of 2018 Oscar Nominations" said a headline in People magazine.

"The Snubs and Surprises of the 2018 Oscar Nominations," said The New York Times.

"Oscar nominations 2018: Snubbed!" gasped USA Today.

If I had a dollar for every time I read a variation on the word "snub" after the Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, I'd be as rich as Steven Spielberg, who was also snubbed.

In the course of ordinary conversation, ordinary adults rarely use the word "snub." Except during Hollywood awards season -- or the Grammys, the Emmys and some sports -- it's a word I associate with teenage behavior.

When I hear it, I see a mean girl in fancy shoes clicking down the high school hallways, nose in the air, refusing to even, like, you know, glance at her rival. I see her, like, totally ignoring the frumpy new girl in the lunchroom. I see the cool football player ignoring the mean girl at the dance and dancing with the frumpy new girl instead. I see gaggles of other kids outraged and entertained by the drama of it all.

Now that's classic snubbing. What happens with the Oscars is mostly something else.

To snub means to rebuff, to ignore, to spurn with disdain. It implies insult, contempt, intentional humiliation.

If you walk into a party, see an old friend, look in his direction then conspicuously avoid him all night, you've snubbed him. If everyone in your friend group was invited to the party, but you weren't, there's a good chance, my friend, that you were snubbed. When you don't bother to respond to your in-laws' invitations, you've snubbed them.

Not being nominated for an Academy Award isn't necessarily, or even probably, a snub.

A disappointment is not a snub. A questionable judgment is not a snub. Merely being overlooked is not a snub. A bona fide snub deliberately inflicts insult.

A headline in the British newspaper The Telegraph on Tuesday -- "Emmanuel Macron expected to be guest of honour at Donald Trump's first state dinner -- in snub to Theresa May" -- may have been a legitimate use of the word.

But back to the Oscars.

Were some of the actors, directors, makeup artists and others who weren't nominated better than some who were? Could be.

But art, unlike sports, is subjectively scored, and all artistic awards come with a big dollop of caprice. They depend on the tastes and moods of the judges, on who the competition is, on the zeitgeist. Bad luck is not a snub. Neither is bad judgment.

And in any competition, when someone wins, someone else doesn't.

Not that such linguistic distinctions mean a thing to many Oscars-watchers. Snubs are part of the entertainment, and snub outrage was flourishing on Tuesday.

"The 'Wonder Woman' Oscar Snub Isn't Sitting Well with Fans," warned teenvogue.com.

In fact, getting snubbed by the Academy is its own contest. Fine, so you were snubbed. But how big was your snub?

"The Biggest Snubs From the 2018 Oscar Nominations," promised the headline in Thrillist.

"Oscars 2018: 10 Biggest Snubs and WTF Surprises," said Rolling Stone.

On Twitter, Perez Hilton conducted a poll asking, "who was this year's biggest snub???"

His voters could choose Tom Hanks, Michelle Williams, "Wonder Woman" or Tiffany Haddish. A tough choice, as the triple question marks suggest.

By now, the word "snub" as applied to the Oscars and other entertainment awards deserves its own dictionary definition with a usage note: "A word used by movie fans whose favorite films or artists weren't nominated or didn't win."

But imagine a world in which all of this year's snubbed movies and artists were nominated. Imagine that all the nominees were snubbed. The outrage would be as loud.

Given the popularity of snubbing outrage, the time is ripe for a movie called "The Big Snub." Directed by Spielberg, it could star Michelle Williams, Armie Hammer and Tiffany Haddish, and tell the uplifting tale of famous people who feel broken when they aren't nominated for a prestigious award. Our heroes swallow their disappointment and go on to find fulfilling, useful lives without a gold statue.

Guaranteed to win an Oscar.

Previously:


12/28/17: The real 2017 word of the year
12/20/17: The laundry-folding robots are coming
12/13/17: How not to waste the last days of 2017


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