(This piece is written in the wake of the news that actor Bill Paxton has suddenly died from complications following surgery. The awards may take a very different angle to what I’ve anticipated here out of respect for Mr Paxton. I hope they do.)
The nominations are called. The performances are reviewed in brief video clips. Finally, the envelope is opened:
“The winner is….”
The crowd applauds as the actor strides through them, down the aisle and up the steps. He accepts the small statuette, shakes hands and kisses the presenters, and then – after a momentary contemplation of his prize – takes the podium.
“There can be no greater prize than the respect of the people who work alongside you. Thank you for this award. It’s a tremendous honour. There are some very special people I have to thank… and I’ll get to that in a moment.”
The actor stiffens slightly. His mouth tightens.
“Tonight, we are gathered here in celebration of our craft, and our industry. But the truth is that in America, right now, there’s precious little to celebrate. Our country has fallen into a darkness. A darkness the likes of which has not threatened this land since the Black Death swept the early colonies during the 1820s.” The audience has grown sombre and attentive. “This is not a time to celebrate… It is not. A time. To Celebrate. And so I say, on behalf of all civilised and decent and caring Americans…
“FUCK YOU, DONALD TRUMP!”
The auditorium erupts in applause and raucous cheers as the actor continues. “You bastard! You think you bought us all with your crooked election? No way, man! No fucking way! The people will take this country back from you and Hollywood is here to show them how it’s done!” The actor has been thumping his award, clutched in his fist, on the podium. Suddenly he brings it down hard and smashes the award to pieces. Now with both fists slamming down he begins chanting: ‘NO! NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO – ” The actor suddenly explodes, live on camera, leaving only a light shower of tinsel and a strong whiff of bovine ordure.
The audience stares in horror, hands frozen in mid-clap. Then the applause begins again, even more frenzied than before. A new benchmark in righteous fury has been set. Nobody wants to be seen falling short. “NO NO NO NO NO NO!” chant the assembled celebrities. Fighting breaks out across the auditorium. Wigs and hairpieces are knocked adrift. Expensive dentalwork falls victim to heavily bejeweled fists. Gut-shrinking corsets are exposed on the men; padded bras are torn off the women.
BANG! An actress goes off in tinsel and oppressive stench. On the far side of the auditorium an alleged comedian stands over his bloodied female companion and throws his head back to howl like a rabid beast. When he goes off, she screams until she too explodes. Celebrities begin exploding everywhere, each one a prod to greater outrage and violence. The fury climaxes in a mass explosion that consumes all who remain. The blast is large enough to register a clear spike on earthquake monitors.
Television networks cut into the broadcast, apologising for ‘technical difficulties’ and switching to emergency programs. Footage captured by the fifteen people who were watching at home is uploaded and Youtube’s servers crash within an hour. Twitter is dominated for weeks by #bestoscarsever.
Six months later the building is demolished. ‘A great loss,’ says the city’s mayor before he triggers the explosives. ‘But the fact is, we just couldn’t get the stink out of the walls… time to put on your gas masks, ladies and gentlemen.’