February 20, 2013

Just as schoolchildren the world over have accepted the roundness of the earth and the deliciousness of pizza, everybody knows that Saturday Night Live is terrible. That doesn’t mean that nobody watches it. Like cigarettes, inactivity and (sadly) pizza, Saturday Night Live is a bad habit, and one that must be broken for a person to lead a healthy weekend life. The show’s relentless badness—and the fact that there are sometimes other fun things to do on a Saturday night—makes breaking that habit fairly easy. Quitting the Oscars is much harder.

I wrote in December about my resolution to avoid Oscars preview coverage, which is as entertaining as a horserace with no horses. This was fairly easy to stick by. On Sunday, I will keep a promise I made to myself the year that James Franco staked a claim to being the worst Oscar host of all time. I will find something better to do on Oscar night.

Like Saturday Night Live, the Oscars are a chore. But because they only come once a year, because of the inexplicable media hype, because nobody has anything to do on a non-football Sunday, people still tune in. No one gives a damn who wins Best Picture, and yet we fill out Oscars pools, and have half-hearted arguments about who got snubbed. We drag our carcasses to Oscar parties, in a vain attempt to consume enough booze, dip and conversation that the endless ceremony feels shorter than nine hours. But none of it will help. The only true path to a happy Oscars night is abstinence.

If you have broken your Saturday Night Live habit, you can quit the Oscars too. The simplest alternative is to spend the night watching movies. Turner Classic Movies is playing Tootsie on Sunday—a movie that Grantland today called “the last great romantic comedy aimed at anyone with an IQ higher than that of a racquetball.” If staging a movie night is too obvious, there are dozens of other ways to pass the evening. Get blind drunk and yell at your cats. Read a Raymond Chandler novel. Find someone to have sex with. Rewatch House of Cards.

Or, if you truly love the Oscars, watch. But if all you’re going to do is complain about the run time, the bad jokes, the snubs and dance numbers and endless, endless montages, then remember: you have only yourself to blame.

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