Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ramblings On The Oscars

It's two in the morning. I just completed a major project that took a lot of energy out of me. I have a truckload of work to do.  And in about four hours, I have to get my daughter ready for school.

Suffice to say, I don't have any business being up right now.

Yet, my fascination for what has transpired with the Academy Awards has captured me. Even before I was an author, I've always wondered what that "walk" was like. You know the walk I'm talking about. They list the nominees. Then the camera split screens, showing all of the jittering smiling nominees as the envelop opens. And then they call your name: Aaron David Harris. I've often wondered how I would react. Would I be overwhelmed when the crowd erupts? Would I trip over my foot and look like a fool in front of millions of people? And if I did, would it still be worth winning such a high honor? Would it be worth being recognized by the best entertainers in the world?

And then came the first OscarsSoWhite hashtag. I've often lamented the stereotypical roles African and African-Americans get recognition for.  However, I've often blamed black audiences for only wanting to watch TV shows and films that reenforce those stereotypes.

This year, #OscarsSoWhite has returned. I'm not entirely sure why the Oscars inspire so many diverse emotions from people. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it all yet. The best way I can describe it is fascination. Abject curiosity. And, like everything else that I learn, I'm trying to figure out what this means for me, what this means for my career.

I've been considering the Image Awards, which is really weird because I felt that it was an institution that fosters and awards manufactured stereotypes in entertainment. Today, though, I find myself wanting to learn more about them. I want to watch the awards show next month, but I won't be able to because it's on that oddly obscure TVOne channel that I don't have. I see that they have a literature category and I'm interested in entering next year.

Now that's a big step. And with big steps, I do two things: I take it to God, then I talk to my wife. She asked me "Why do you want to win awards? You never wanted to win awards."

And that was true, once upon a time. In an ideal world, the only thing that would matter to me are the people who enjoy my work. Recognition from a governing body never really appeal to me because it felt like the awards are only used to say that someone is better than someone else, which is really insipid and pointless, especially when it comes to something as subjective as entertainment (even more so with writing).

However, I don't live in an ideal world. I live in a world where anyone with a username and a password can be an author. I live in a world where millions of people are publishing stories, making movies, and producing content every day. In order for my stories to be read, in order for my voice to be heard, I need to stand out. Awards can help you do that. So I was all for submitting for the Image Awards.

But my wife asking me about winning awards and why I wanted to do it really took my back to why I write in the first place. I write because it's something I love to do. I want to share cool, Aaron Harris-style stories with an audience that would get me. I never did it seeking critical acclaim. Why should I start now?

I'm still not sure if I'm going to enter the Image Awards, but here's my final take on the Oscars:

When I was a kid, my cousins didn't like me playing their Super Nintendo or their Playstation. I used to beg. They'd say no. Sometimes I'd sneak and play any way. Then I got older and I got a job. I bought my own games. I got a job at Gamestop and bought even more games. I played them until my eyes bled and I loved every second of it.