Columns, Opinion

Mahdi: As the years have gone by

Courtesy of social media and the plethora of infographics, as the years have gone by, the wall that separated the “little people” from the star-studded events has been lifted.

As the build-up to the Oscars drew nearer, the internet was inundated with retrospective pieces of the best speeches, the worst speeches, the highs and lows of Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie career and basically any other mundane ranking you can think of.

One example of the degree of invasiveness we have achieved was in an article that broke down what the Oscars gift bag has contained over the past four years.

According to an article by Refinery29, citing the marketing team Distinctive Assets, these bags have contained a variety of gifts. One of the most noteworthy is called the Vampire Facelift, where for $1,500, you can inject your face with a gel that is crafted from your own blood.

Perhaps the most useless gift was the Slow Watch, which priced at $279, enables the user to see the time without a second hand. This gift was supposed to remind us that our lives should not be governed by seconds. There is some silver lining to this extravagance, however, with one year’s bag containing donations to the Halo Pet Shelter and the UN World Food Programme in Iran.

This degree of nosiness has not compromised the drama of the spectacle, namely who is going to be taking home the honors. That information is in the hands of two accountants at PwC who, according to an article in TIME on Thursday, are the only two people in the world who have the information, which they will deliver in separate cars with security details on the big night. Brian Cullinan, one of the two in the know remarked wistfully, “Especially for those who aren’t in the business world, [the Oscars are] what we’re known for,” says Cullinan. “To be asked to do it is probably, as an accountant, as much fun as you can have.”

Regardless of the ridiculous details, what these Oscars do highlight is a shift in where movies sit within society. Cinema has often times been a welcomed form of escapism for moviegoers — you settled into your seat, movie snack in hand, aiming to flee from the realities of the world around us.

And yet, this gap between reality and the art of film seems to have narrowed. Regardless of which film emerges victorious, or which individuals are ultimately recognised for their achievements, there is no mistaking the nominees for best picture are films that strive to portray the world in a way that is not compromised by the volition to solely entertain. Yes, some may argue that there are many scientific inaccuracies in “Gravity,” or that “Wolf of Wall Street” is not an accurate portrayal of how these historical events panned out, but these issues are on the radar of millions who have seen these movies.

Despite our inherent desire to witness a triumphant story of an underdog, or an uplifting drama about perseverance at the movies, I wondered if there was any hope that reality could satisfy that craving. Were we in a world where our dreams of just one happy news item coming to light were destined to die? In the midst of assessing films that seek to shed light on human struggle and illness, was it to be supplemented by mounting tensions as day by day one country after another fall into disrepair?

In the rubble, literally and figuratively, I came across the family reunions that were permitted by both North and South Korea. The Korean War ripped these families apart, and six decades later, they seized the opportunity to reunite at a mountain resort in North Korea. Many of them are in their 80s or 90s, so this fleeting moment will be the last time the two sides will meet in their lifetimes. The last instance this barrier was broken and a reunion was facilitated as in November 2010, according to TIME. As expected, the negotiations for this joyous occasion are high-stress situations. As of yesterday, CNN reported that there is talk these reunions could become a more permanent fixture.

Whether it is on screen or in person, the line between inspiring film and reality has moved dramatically in the past few years. We do not need to lose ourselves in a script come to life to see moving images of enduring love that triumphed over time and geographical borders. At the Oscars, there will assuredly be winners and losers, upsets and sure bets. And yet, as the ceremonies come to a close and we look to next years potentials, in infographics or otherwise, we can take heart that cinema can take heart and inspiration from stories of love and strength in reality and show us that our dreams and our goals may not be as farfetched as they seem.



Sofiya Mahdi is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a former managing editor at The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at [email protected].


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