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Something that bothers me more than anything else about Oscar Season is the rarely questioned assumption that Honorary Oscars don't count as much as Oscars in competition.
I'll look at one of USA Today's (or one of many other publications) 10,000 pre-Oscar articles (the newspaper's arts section has a policy of milking every major event in the entertainment cycle to death to compensate for lack of original ideas) and their umpteenth event preview will read something along the lines of "Will director Mary Scorsese win an Oscar in competition or will they be relegated to the less prestigious honorary award?"
And this brings me to the troubling question: Who decided that the honorary awards were worth less than the regular Oscars?
The actors who have won honorary awards (except Peter O'Toole), by and large, are happy to have won Oscars and don't really care whether it was in competition or not. In fact, many of the people who won Academy awards (i.e. George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Marlon Brando, Alexander Payne) detest competition to begin with.
It's even a better experience to win an honorary award because you don't have to go through the trouble of competing. Wouldn't you feel much more esteemed to be acknowledged for an entire lifetime of work then have one good performance?
It strikes me that winning an honorary award is a much greater compliment because they determined that it's not just one role but a person's entire body of work to be of the highest standard.
Besides, Some of the people who won Oscars in competition were only on screen for less than 10 minutes, and some of the people who won an Academy Award for acting weren't even actors to begin with. Haing Ngor was a doctor who was recreating his life experiences in the Cambodian genocie, Jennifer Hudson was an aspiring gospel singer and Jon Houseman was an acting teacher who filled in for one of his former student's when the original guy cast in the role backed out.
If Sidney Lumet, Blake Edwards, Gene Kelley, Lillian Gish and Charlie Chaplin all treasured there awards, who are we to say that there award is worth less?
I think it's part of our obsession with competition and the athletic aspect of it that informs this view of ours.