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Hate-watching the Oscars

Troy Mathew | Monday, February 25, 2013

To hate-watch is to willingly watch a broadcast that you know you won’t enjoy, solely so you know exactly what to complain about.

“Hate-watching” is a phenomenon that is only appropriate for a select number of shows and broadcasts. These shows motivate the viewers to watch, but their real appeals lies in the fact that they are so awful. That is, viewers feel compelled to watch these things so they can know definitively what exactly they hate about the shows. Viewers don’t go in expecting to enjoy these broadcasts. In fact, the opposite is true. They know they’re going to complain about the program but want to be able to base their complaints in concrete things that happened in said program.

One of the most popular shows to hate-watch is “Glee.” It started out as a funny, charming TV show, but grew into something much, much worse. It abandoned its original brilliance and turned into a preachy show with some of the most asinine plot twists ever seen on television. Those “Glee” viewers who have persevered through the years are not enjoying themselves, but merely enjoy being a meaningful part of the hate-fest that ensues after each ridiculous episode.

I hate-watched the Oscars on Sunday.

There is just something inherently annoying about the Oscars. It’s a giant theater full of wealthy people who gather to compliment each other. They compliment each other on their clothes, their talents and their awe-inspiring performances. For four hours. Because, you know, movie stars don’t get quite enough attention and adoration as is. Watching the Oscars made me roll my eyes a lot.

All of these endless compliments were interspersed with awkward and misogynistic joke attempts by Seth MacFarlane. He did an entire song-and-dance number devoted to movies in which actresses appear nude. There was really no reprieve granted from the eye rolling.

The Oscar nominees and guests didn’t make things better either. Kristen Stewart’s unpleasant mug got more face time then I would like to think about, and Quentin Tarantino’s bizarre mannerisms and egomania were not enjoyable to watch. And yet, I know about all of these things because I hate-watched.

I think Anne Hathaway best encapsulates the phenomenon of hate-watching. Everyone knew she was going to win for Supporting Actress, and nobody likes her. In “Les Miserables,” Hathaway sang, cried and sang while crying, all into a camera situated six inches from her face. She did so brilliantly and inspired the praise of many critics. She had the Oscar in the bag. It was inevitable that she was going to win the award and make a gasping, over-eager and annoying acceptance speech. She didn’t disappoint. I think I heard a collective “ugh” from all the hate-watchers when Hathaway walked up to get her trophy.

That being said, there was one thing I sincerely enjoyed about the Oscars, and that thing is Jennifer Lawrence. Her witty, self-deprecating and sarcastic interviews have earned her a strong Internet fan base, and she seems grounded and relatable, which is obviously a novelty in Hollywood. Lawrence won Best Actress for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” despite being a slight underdog to Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty.”

On the way up to the podium, Lawrence fell down. She tripped on her absurdly long dress, and was lying on the stairs for an agonizingly long time. When she gained her footing and made her acceptance speech, she sheepishly acknowledged her fall before continuing with her spiel. Lawrence seemed genuine, likeable and most of all, real. I tried to hate-watch this moment but I absolutely could not.

Jennifer Lawrence spoiled my perfect night of hate-watching and I didn’t hate that.

Contact Troy Mathew at tmathew2@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.