In keeping with my annual tradition, I will probably not watch the Academy Awards on Sunday night. I’ve never really been enamored with the show. Even in the prime of my movie-going days, I rarely watched it. These days, I rarely go to the movies, so don’t really have any horses in the race. I’ll be a hometown honey and root for “Manchester By the Sea”, which is on my to-watch list, just as last year, I was rooting for “Spotlight”. (Double reason there, of course: Boston setting, and, given my Catholic upbringing, a topic of supreme interest.) I did turn the Oscars on at the last moment and did see “Spotlight” win, which was gratifying – I yelped - mostly because of the topic. And in part because it was the only nominated film I’d seen. Anyway, the Academy Awards aren’t really my thing. On the other hand…
In keeping with my annual tradition, I will be commenting on the swag bag, which is provided to the nominees for best/best supporting actor and actress, and best director, so that everyone takes home some sort of consolation prize, even if they don’t win the golden statue.(Or at least the major “everyones”. No swag bag for the Best Use of Black & White Cinematography in a Full-Length Documentary Not Made in the US of A.)
This year’s swag assortment - valued at roughly $200K (taxable) - includes a CPR Anytime kit. First, shouldn’t it be the CPR Anywhere kit? Wouldn’t that be the appeal? That you’d have it whenever you need it? Because “anytime” isn’t when you need it. The only time you need it is if you or someone nearby have heart failure. Anyway (anywhere, anytime), it seems to me that this is an item that you might want to have on hand at the award ceremony, given that someone could throw a big one when they do or don’t hear their name called. But the swag bags are delivered to the nominees ahead of time, so they’d have to lug it with them to the show – not easy for the actresses tottering down the red carpet in 7 inch heels, and wearing gowns that don’t exactly come with deep pockets.
Another swag bag item is a box of personalized Crayolas. Now this is a low cost item, but how fun. I just checked, and you can pick the colors you want in our box of 64. I was delighted to see old favorites like Sky Blue and Blue Violet are still available. And Raw Sienna, which I never used, but liked the name of. But Crayola is getting as tricky as everyone else with their naming schemes: Granny Smith Apple, Asparagus, Macaroni and Cheese. Timberwolf. Tickle Me Pink. (Sounds like an O.P.I. nail polish color.) You can also put your name on the crayons, and your picture on the box. Don’t know if the actors/actresses have to do the heavy lifting of color choice and headshot upload. Maybe that’s what assistants are for.
Another one of the lower-end gifts in the bad is a pack of sweat-absorbing patches – just press on and you’re good to no-sweat go. There used to be something called underarm shields that you sewed into your good dresses and sweaters to protect them from unseemly and destructive perspiration, but the Dandi Patches seem a lot easier. But who really needs them? Isn’t sweating good for you?
There’s also some type of pelvic floor exercise thing-y. (And I wasn’t even aware that men did pelvic floor exercises.) And, especially nice for the losers, a wooden box containing 40 cards on which positive quotes are printed. Perhaps they can consult their Stewart Smalley Affirmations which doing their pelvic floor exercises. If they don’t want to bother with the kegel kit, but want to get down on the floor, the swag bag includes a cellulite massage mat. Or you can just forget your pelvis and cellulite, and sit around grazing through your box of pithy quotes while munching on pecans from the jar that’s made its way into the swag bag.
The real goodies are, of course, the trips.
A five-night holiday to Kōloa Landing, a luxurious resort on Hawaii's Kauai island is included, costing around $1,150 a night, along with a week at Golden Door, an exclusive California spa where a "Classic Women's Week" costs around $8,850.
If the nominee prefers a European adventure, then a three-night stay in a suite at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como is also on offer, which retails at around $1,400 a night, before taxes. Also in the swag bag are three nights in the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, where a suite costs upwards of $700 a night. (Source: NBC News)
There’s also a jaunt to something called the Lost Coast Ranch, a private mansion where the non-winner and 9 guests can hang out for a 3 night stay. At a value of $40K, this is the priciest item in the bag.)
The swag bags came about 15 years ago, in response to Bette Midler’s grousing about going home empty handed. Since then, an outfit called Distinctive Assets has been putting them together. For those who populate the bag, it’s pretty good marketing publicity. Or, as Distinctive Assets would have it:
“We give the bag out to acknowledge a job well done. Celebs are just people and they love getting a gift,” founder of Distinctive Assets Lash Fary told Fox News. (Source: Fox News)
Just people? Just people!
I don’t believe that for a New York minute.
I suspect the only thing we have in common is that a stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo sounds good to us common folk, too. The pelvic floor exercise tracker? The box of quotes? You can keep them. And I can buy my own jar of pecans, thank you.