Take movie stars. They are the divinity of a secular culture because they pretend to be imaginary people and only speak words written by somebody else.
It is interesting, then, that out of the vast population of non-imaginary people who worship actors for playing imaginary people, only some actually see those actors playing imaginary people in movies. But every one of them tunes in when the actors act like real people and accept awards for playing imaginary people convincingly.
This is the mystery of the Academy Awards, and it isn’t just academic. Stars derive distinction solely by playing imaginary people. Real, they are not much different from you and me. So how did watching them do nothing but say thank you become the most important night of the year?
Perhaps those statues are transcendent talismans, possessed of an overwhelming magnetic power. Well, let’s create a show where past Academy Award winners trot out their Oscars and hold them up. No one would watch.
Perhaps it’s the clothes. Not really, or else billions of people would be flooding their way into fashion shows and bringing cities to a standstill by assembling in front of shop windows.
Perhaps it’s the eerie spectacle of artists losing. Contests about entertainment are apparently more entertaining than entertainment itself.
Academy Awards are like funerals. People who never speak to someone while that person is living will travel to the ends of the earth to be at their funeral if that person dies. To the ends of the earth, and the person is no longer there.
Clearly, somebody who isn’t, is infinitely more fascinating than somebody who is.