Nowhere are the acts of happy exuberance and style better represented than in our own entertainment industry, where arguably the trademark event for this sensory delight is the Academy Awards themselves. To be sure, it’s hard to imagine the excitement and gloss that must come with stardom, with being part of the machine that is the film industry1.
For instance, the 2006 awards show, held at the Kodak Theatre2, was the usual entertainment. Celebrities all dressed up3 and looking regal as they interacted with their peers. They know that the eyes of the world4 are watching closely5, intrigued with the scenery and hopeful that their own favourites will be rewarded6.
“Crash7” was the winner that time around, a name perhaps fitting for Oscar’s place in the world. It certainly did seem like a collision of sorts. It’s like what a CNN correspondent was quoted as saying, “It’s interesting backstage, the international flavour. The Koreans have a large contingent, the Japanese, the former Soviet block, the Aussies. It’s like the United Nations8. You really get a sense of how popular for better or worse entertainment is around the world.”
For better or for worse, indeed.
1. Up to the 2006 awards show, the total worldwide grosses for the ten most successful movies f 2005, added up to about $5.7 billion USD dollars. This single year figure of just ten films eclipsed the total amount of accumulative funding for the Global Fund by about 1 billion dollars. Note that the Global Fund was created in 2001 to finance a dramatic turn-around in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – diseases which kill over 6 million people each year.
2. The Kodak company paid $75 million USD dollars to have its name associated with the building, which is enough to provide emergency food rations to about 700,000 individuals suffering from malnutrition for an entire year. In 2006, the Kodak Theatre celebrated its fifth birthday – each year, nearly 11 million children die before theirs.
3. Value of a typical pre-Oscar makeup appointment in 2006 was $5500 USD – an amount capable of vaccinating 138750 children against meningitis.
4. Estimates place total number of viewers of the Academy Awards at about 1 billion individuals. This is roughly the same as the number of people who entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. This is roughly the same as the number who have no access to clean water. This is roughly the same number of people who live on less than a dollar a day.
5. 30 seconds of commercial airtime at the Oscars costs approximately $1.7 million dollars USD. This money would provide clean water for over 100000 families in Africa, protecting them from cholera, typhoid, and other waterborne diseases that kill 2 million children every year. Sadly, during that 30 second commercial, approximately 10 children will die unnecessarily of poverty or preventable disease.
6. The diamond-encrusted Victoria’s Secret lingerie sets presented to the 2006 five Best Actress nominees were worth over $75000 USD – enough to send more than 1000 African children to school for a year.
7. A Stuart Weitzman pair of “Cinderella Shoes” were worn during the performance of the nominated song “In the Deep” from the movie Crash. They were estimated to be worth about $3 million USD, currently enough to provide for pediatric AIDS medication to approximately 10,000 children for one year.
8. In the year 2000, 189 Heads of State and government, representing their citizens signed onto the Millenium Declaration, which included the commitment to meet the Millenium Development Goals by 2015. These goals are as follows:
– reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
– reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
– ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling
– eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
– reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five
– reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio; halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
– halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
– integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes
– reverse loss of environmental resources; reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
– achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020.
– develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—nationally and internationally.
– address the least developed countries’ special needs. This includes tariff- and quota-free access for their exports
– enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction.
– address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States.
– deal comprehensively with developing countries’ debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term
– in cooperation with the developing countries, develop decent and productive work for youth.
– in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.
– in cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies—especially information and communications technologies