The ‘Swag Bags,’ Are they Really Necessary?

Spending a small fortune on a gift basket for Oscar nominees really justified. According to online sources 21 gift bags will be given to the host and losing nominees in five categories including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director at this year’s show on Sunday. Not only is the bag more than double in cost than last year’s, it is also the most expensive bag ever. However, these bags are not endorsed by the Academy itself.

With a range of things included, the most expensive product is said to be a little over $20,000. Personally, I think that the money invested in the bags could be better utilized if donated to charity. There are way too many expensive things for people who are already rich enough to afford it themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I am not thrashing celebrities here. But being nominated for an Oscar, the biggest movie award in the world should be enough as it is. Adding an expensive gift on top of that is not needed. I am sure the celebs themselves give a lot in charity but I can’t seem to get my head around the amount of money spend. Being nominated to awards that started in 1929, have enough power to not only give you credibility as an actor (let alone the fact whether you deserve it or not) it also gives you a name in the illustrated history of academy awards. Sure sponsors that add their products to the list to get some promotion in the press but is giving their products to Oscar nominees really the way to go? swag bags, as they are called, appear to be more of a marketing strategy than a way to congratulate the nominees. In 2006, The Academy itself voted to end the distribution of gift bags, but that obviously did not happen.

The swag bags are certainly nonessential. Possibly the worst thing there is in my opinion. It degrades the show by adding an over-expensive price tag on it. Everyone is a professional, everyone is nominated because of their work, because they have achieved that. There is a lot of poverty in the world, that could really use the amount of money spent on these bags. After all, millions of unknown people liking your work, praising it and wishing you the best, isn’t that the biggest reward there is?


Why All The Hate? Men, Women and Children (2014) Review

Jason Reitman is one of my favorite directors. His Juno and Up in the Air remain some of my favorite films of all times. When I heard that he is directing the likes of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner in his next I couldn’t be more excited. His latest, Men Women & Children deals with teenagers and their parents getting hold of their relationships in today’s digital world. Based on a novel by Chad Kultgen it has a range of intervening stories, all dealing with that same issue.

Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen Truby (Rosemarie DeWitt) frustrated of their love life start to have extra-marital affair, while their son Chris (Travis Tope) deals with extreme porn addiction. Chris’ girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia) wants to be famous and is dropped after being selected for a reality show because the producers discover the inappropriate pictures taken by her mother posted online. Her mother Donna Clint (Judy Green) starts a relationship with Kent Monney (Dean Norris) a divorcee, lives with his only son Tim Monney (Ansel Elgort). Tim after his parent’s divorce quits football and is in a relationship with Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) who hides her secret Tumblr account from her mother, Patricia (Jennifer Garner). Patricia an over-protective mother monitors everything her daughter does. From reading her text messages to proof reading and deleting her Facebook messages. The saddest story is perhaps of  Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris) who’s under a lot of peer-pressure along with low self-esteem and body image issues. She sleeps with a guy who couldn’t care less about her. Later she has a miscarriage due to anorexia after extreme dieting following the advice of her chat room buddies, “Eat celery while smelling her Shepherd’s Pie.”

A range of different characters made the film more interesting for me. Every character in the film feels like technology be it internet or phones can solve their problem. But the sad thing is that no one seems to realize the implications it can have. Tim reluctantly tells his online game friends that his mother is getting married again, hoping to get some sympathy but only gets insults and crude jokes targeted at his mother thrown his way. You would think that turning off phone is an option, but you cannot bury your head and hope no one sees you. Everyone is looking for sanctuary in the world of technology, when what they really need is human interaction.

Every character faces their own conflict. All the conflicts from eating disorders to depression are portrayed as real as possible, which is why the impact of the film is powerful. Its gut-wrenching seeing Allison on the hospital bed post her miscarriage. One of the more haunting scene is when Helen is confesses to Don about her affair and instead of getting mad, he tells her he can either tell her what he has done or they both can just let it go. The things that is upsetting is perhaps that only the negatives of technology is portrayed in the film. Technology, like anything has it pros and cons. Everyone has secrets and insecurities and no one talks about it, throw technology into the mix and its a whole new thing.

Adam Sandler out of all the cast is a stand out for me, for portraying a cheating husband so effectively.  In fact there is not one performance that isn’t brilliant, all-star cast but on an all impressive show. I was surprised to see all the negative review against the film. Reitman has done exceptionally well in portraying these real and sometimes frightening scenarios on screen. It’s an endearing film that does deserve a watch. It wont make you laugh instead will make you think and question a lot of things.

We should learn from this film, not discourage it. Like I said, Why all the hate?

4 Stars.