Not a Movie Snob - All that glitters: the Oscar swag bag and the "burden" of privilege

Posted on Tuesday, February 09, 2016 at 10:00 PM

All that glitters: the Oscar swag bag and the "burden" of privilege

Movie Review by Griffintainment X

I may make some people mad here, but by far and wide the three most overpaid professions in the world are in sports, movies, and music. Now I know there's a sliding scale. Some people in professional sports make $40,000 a year, while others make between $2 and $80 million (I'm not even going to include what the top boxers are paid because it's disgusting). The same can be said of movie actors/actresses. Some make $5,000 a movie, others, $15 million. In music, punk rockers, the people I spend most of my time with, even the ones in moderately popular bands, often need to hold blue collar jobs when the tour is over to make ends meet, while the members of U2 or the Foo Fighters are undoubtably drowning in the green stuff.

Is this fair? That depends on how you feel about it. I lean quite far left politically and am far more socialist than capitalist. I understand that Hollywood is a capitalist regime and the fact of the matter is, Brad Pitt puts more asses in seats than Paul Dano, so Brad Pitt gets $20mil, while Paul Dano doesn't. Whether Pitt is a better actor than Dano doesn't seem to enter into it. And while I can see the logic in that thinking, it still doesn't gel with the exorbitant amount of money the A-listers are paid, compared to the pennies many fine actors and actresses are paid farther down the fame ladder. Or, more importantly, the paltry sums the real soldiers of the cinematic battlefield are paid. The grips and the PAs and all the tradesmen, without whom there would be no one to build the sets, set up the lights and tape down the camera cords.

We could go on and on, I know I certainly could, debating how much entertainers earn compared to how much they're worth. What isn't debatable is why the hell these overpaid 'entertainment professionals' get so much free crap! Seriously. The sign welcoming people to the city of Los Angeles should come with a postscript which reads 'where the rich get richer'. Because that is exactly what happens. If you are a star, a famous person, a or a recognizable personality of any ilk, you may never need to pay for anything ever again. Congrats. Between the industry swag bags, the gifting suites and the product events, set up solely to award famous people for being famous, celebs can coast on a never ending river of expensive clothes/jewels/beauty products these companies would never dream of offering to the general public for free.

Yes, I understand commerce, I understand marketing. I get that if you give Leonardo DiCaprio a $20,000 watch for free, it could mean that a thousand wealthy schlubs who otherwise wouldn't dream of purchasing a watch costing $20,000, will see Leo's glittering wrist and run right out and buy that glitter for themselves. Because, hey, what's good enough for the Titanic guy is good enough for me!

But I'm not unreasonable. I'm willing to go method for a moment and put myself in those very expensive shoes. I mean, it's all well and good to thumb your nose at the wealthy and the well to do when you aren't one of them. But would you decline a free gift bag worth 200g's? (Fun fact: according to Hollywood Reporter the number of nominees that have turned down one of these bursting at the seams gift bags? One. Yup. One).

So let's say, for example, regular Joe's like you or I got nominated for an Oscar. Let's say our silly four minute documentary short won a bunch of small town film festival awards and we rode those accolades all the way up the red carpet and into the Dolby Theatre on the cusp of spring. Now that we're official nominees, we get the same swag bags that the more prestigious nominees get, right? We get $230,000 in top of the line products the same as Leo. Er, wait. We don't? No, we don't.

These swag bags are provided by companies unaffiliated with the Oscars and therefore aimed at only the most prestigious nominees. So, instead of companies giving all the nominees, say, $20,000 worth of their overpriced crap, only the actor/actresses and directors nominated get anything. Everyone else? Sorry, nobody cares if you wipe your ass with $250 toilet paper. Your ass isn't good enough to be wiped with $250 toilet paper. At least, not for free.

And to add insult to injury, that one swag bag, annoyingly titled the 'Distinctive Assets' gift bag, or the 'Everybody Wins' gift bag (everybody nominated in the top categories that is), isn't all Kate Winslet will be showered with come awards night. A veritable who's who of top of the line product specialists will be crowding the red carpet, pulling celebs aside and shoving free fun bags in their faces. Then retracting back into the shadows on feet which seem to float rather than walk. Creepy product specialists.

No the gifts never stop for the rich and famous. While we middle class and lower class and lower middle class bums sit here on our own bums ogling, mouths agape, the designer dresses and designer jewels and perfect curves of the celebrated and adored. Woe is (s)he who falls victim the endless burden of privilege and good fortune, for theirs is truly a heavy cross to bear.

But I admit my hypocrisy. I will watch the Oscars this year. I watch them every year. I'll probably even have the red carpet arrivals on in the background while I prepare my snack bowl. And I truly don't know that I would turn down a free swag bag if it was me it was being handed to. I guess I just wish we had better things to do as a society than to worship those for whom worship comes cheap, and pays well. In my own bubble of ideology, I liked to think that if we cared less about the most fortunate, things would be a little more fair for the less fortunate. But I don't suppose that's very realistic. And I suppose that's what separates the Bernies from the Trumps. But that's another discussion for another topic on another blog.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to