OSCAR FICTION PACKAGE: What really happens after winning an Academy Award? 1,739 words. Story and illustrations by Mark Fearing.
The Oscar sits on my desk coldly staring at me. I don’t remember bringing it to my production office on the studio lot. But here I am and here it is. Oscar looks great no matter where it’s placed. What do interior designers advise – create a focus in a room? Well, this is the fucking focus.
I don’t remember much about the last three days. Just shreds from the Governors Ball, my speech on stage, walking past George, Brad, Leo, Meryl, Angie and that smug J.J. who’ll maybe return my calls now.
As a producer, nobody in the real world has any idea what you look like, who you are or what you do. But when you win Best Picture and it’s your film – it’s your prize. Granted, I had to share with two more-or-less managers and an actor who magically became a producer when he decided to do the film. He was up for Best Actor, too. Didn’t win. What does that tell you?
Lily buzzes past my open door, she stops, she opens her eyes wide and she rushes in. “Oh my God, Mr. D, I didn’t know you’d arrived yet. It’s here!” Lily has a folder of papers in one hand and her iPhone in the other. She multitasks like a cyborg. That’s what you want in an assistant or office manager or office supervisor… whatever the hell the PC term for what she does is called this week.
“Your speech was awesome. We were all freaking out!” she gushes.
I don’t remember my speech and I can’t find the paper it was written on but I knew enough to thank those that must be thanked. And you’d better write it down beforehand because, at that moment, you lose it. My heart was beating so hard I thought I was going to die. My tongue was stuck to the floor of my mouth.
“Mr. D, can I take a selfie with it!?” Lily trills. But, shit, don’t they have a bunch of rules about Oscar like you can’t besmirch it or sell it? I don’t remember them all but damn if I’m going to piss off the Oscar gods. All I know now is I want another one someday.
“Later. Close the door on your way out.” I hate to crush her energy but I need some alone time.
“Will do. You’ve got nothing on your schedule. Want me to set up a lunch?”
“Later.” The door slams and my head vibrates. What did I ingest the past three days? More like what didn’t I. Leaning forward in my chair, I can hear my ears buzz with the sound made by an old TV set. I remember watching the Oscars in junior high while my mom was still alive and I told her I’d be up on that stage one day. And each year afterward I never stopped thinking about moviedom’s biggest night. But I wasn’t a fucked-up actor, or a director working what looks like an hourly profession, and who actually wants to be a writer. I was born to produce. And now I have the prize of all prizes. Someone always has a cooler car (maybe I’ll get moved up the waiting list for a Tesla) and a bigger mansion, but Oscar levels the Hollywood playing field. You either have one or you don’t.
I reach out with one finger and run it down the length and breadth of Oscar. For a moment, I think about carrying Oscar with me to Starbucks and ordering a Latte Macchiato while everyone stares. Sick, I know. Stupid idea.
“Not stupid. I feel like getting out of here.”
What? Now Oscar can read my mind?
“Yes, you will carry me to Starbucks,” he says as I realize he’s opening his mouth and talking to me. “Show me off. Because you’ve made it big, fella.”
Hallucination. Not the first time, but damn this one is good.
“You look better reflected in gold.” Oscar continues, sounding a lot like Kevin Spacey.
It’s perfectly shimmering and fully realistic CGI. Like forty-grand-a-minute CGI. Oscar’s little neck turns and his morbid face looks around and then his eerie eyes fix what passes as his gaze on me.
“Didn’t think you’d win – did ya?” Oscar asks.
“I deserved it,” I say.
“Deserved? Funny word to use in this town. Got nothing to do with it. You won because I let you win.”
Pretty outspoken for a prize. But it doesn’t surprise me. “You and everybody else have no idea the hell I went through to get this film made. Have you ever heard about financing? Well, it isn’t easy to find.”
“It’s not like you were digging ditches. Did you get blisters and a sore back?”
“Fuck you. Try attaching a Hollywood director who’s done more than a Call Of Duty or Halo Xbox game when you have no money. And let’s not even talk about signing a decent actor or editor or…”
“Do you serve brie with your whine?”
“That’s a stupid joke. What are you, in eighth grade?”
“Eighth graders don’t watch movies anymore. I’d recommend that you get your ass on YouTube before it’s too late.”
Wait, what am I doing? Sitting at my desk talking back to my Academy Award? But I can’t let Oscar have the last word.
“Everyone knows you’re mine.”
“Really? In a week, no one will care. In a month, no one will remember. In a year… you get the idea. Your best hope is that I’m still your friend in 20 years.” Oscar says.
“Last I checked, you belong to me. I’ll do what I want with you. Maybe I’ll just toss you into a safe and lock it up tight.”
“No. You’ll keep me right here on your desk. You know and I know that’s where I belong. I’m the thing people are coming into this office to see. Not you.”
“You have a shitload of attitude for a little golden decoration,” I tell him. But, in Hollywood, attitude is seventy percent of any successful person’s job requirement.
The statuette coughs and continues. “Honestly, your film didn’t deserve me. Love and intrigue that crescendoes on the eve of the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Really? Try too hard much?” And Oscar laughs a horrible grating laugh.
I spit back into Oscar’s face. “I found that script 15 years ago and I knew it was a winner. I was the one who championed it. I went to the three thousand meetings that went nowhere. I fulfilled the endless demands for rewrites. I was there all along! Just me and my baby!”
“You were around, you shook the correct hands, you chuckled at the right jokes, you serviced those who needed servicing, and you did it all with gusto.”
Oscar sounds like a snotty teenager. And I’m losing whatever cool I have left.
“I won, you caustic little shit, because I worked my ass off for …”
“Like no one else every worked hard before. And everyone who works hard, they get an Oscar – right?”
His arms peel away from his body in a melting motion that would make Jim Cameron and his tech-monkeys proud. Oscar’s little club-hands have limited articulation but they gesture. I try to get hold of reality.
“Listen, I’m still pretty out of it, and I know this because I’m talking to a trophy,” I say while laughing.
Oscar forms what passes for a surprised look on his oddly featureless face. “You didn’t just call me a trophy, did you? Fuck you! I’m not a decoration or a trophy from a beach volleyball tournament. I’m not a – god forbid — Emmy! You didn’t win me because you deserve me. I picked your name out of a hat, sweetheart.”
In one motion, I lean forward and pick up the golden phallus with both my hands and hold it close to my face. I shout, “You’re mine now! I’ll have you in my office, in my house, in my goddamned car, if I want. I’ll have you when I want and where I want. I’ll have you next to me when I die.”
“That you will. Die that is. I’ll love being there.” Oscar says. Then he places his cold lump-hands atop my thumbs in a patronizing way. “Now put me back down and don’t ever grab me like that again. I’m not some cheap-ass USC student looking for an internship.”
What’s happening to me? This isn’t a nervous breakdown. I’ve seen plenty of those first-hand. This is psychosis. This is drugged mental shit. I close my eyes and realize my mouth tastes like an old sock. Shit, I gotta get out of here. I’ll walk to Starbucks for that Latte Macchiato. The exercise will do me good.
I close and open my eyes and Oscar is still there. He isn’t gesturing. He isn’t talking. He’s just a statuette again. I hear the traffic on Cahuenga, people chattering in the outer office and Oscar stays quiet. I stand up and push my hair back from my forehead. I walk to my office front door and then…
Oscar screams. High pitched, like a siren on an ambulance trying to run up the 405 at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.
“You walk away from me and I promise you will never work in this town again!” Oscar bellows.
I turn around. “You can’t do that to me! You’re JUST a statuette…”
And before I can finish the sentence, I realize what I’m saying is a lie. Not a big lie, like the costs I write off against my films, but still a lie. Oscar has never been just a hood ornament or mantel adornment to me, and never will be.
Oscar has twisted his head again to look at me. I can see a faint reflection of myself in his gold.
“Now you get it," he states. "I mean more to you than anything in your pathetic, paranoid, social-climbing life. I own you because you desire me.”
“I’m sorry.” I force out the words.
“Better. You’ve met your god and you didn’t think you had to pay a price?”
“I thought I had done the work, that I…”
“Everyone’s done the work. But I picked you. And now you’ll do what I want. And I want to go to Starbucks.”
As I walk through the office with Oscar, heads turn like a wave. Then I’m walking down the street with Oscar. And he loves the sun.
This story first posted here on February 22, 2016. Oscar Fiction Package - Oscar®, Academy Award®, and AMPAS® are registered trademarks of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, ©AMPAS.