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20 Apr, 2021 21:05

Oscars ceremony demands guests mask up – but only when camera’s OFF

Oscars ceremony demands guests mask up – but only when camera’s OFF

The annual Academy Awards will spare visitors the mask mandate during the main ceremony, but stars and viewers who step outside must don the mask for commercials and jump through plenty of hoops to participate.

Unlike the Grammys, the Oscars on Sunday will be held mostly mask-free at Los Angeles’ Union Station, media revealed on Monday. However, those in the audience will be required to put their face coverings back on during commercial breaks and as they “cycle” through two outdoor courtyards – choreographed movement that is apparently part of a social distancing mandate for the nevertheless atypically sparse 170-person guest list.

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The odd pageantry comes from the state of California’s current pandemic rules regarding film shoots. Since the Oscars are being shot like a film, under current industry guidelines, everyone not on camera (including those behind the camera working, and everyone during commercial breaks) must wear a mask. The “safety” theme is compounded as attendees are tested “at least three times prior to the show,” according to the Hollywood Reporter, and then given one last temperature check before walking into the venue.

Attendees were apparently notified of the mask rules on Monday, giving them a whole week to dig up some fetching mask to match their outfit. The rules were announced during a virtual meeting with publicists and nominees, and the ceremony’s producer – award-winning film director Steven Soderbergh – warned participants that “masks are going to play a very important role in the story of this evening.

“It’s not going to be like anything that’s been done before,” Soderbergh told a press conference on Sunday, a rather chilling promise from the director whose film work includes 2011’s “Contagion.” That film is about a deadly pandemic that originates from an infected bat dropping a piece of banana, which is then eaten by a pig. To make a long story short, the pig is carved up by a human chef, who makes the mistake of not washing his hands, and the rest is history.

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The film has understandably received a lot of attention over the past year, thanks to the subject matter, which hits uncomfortably close to home. For most Americans, it is likely the first time they encountered the concept of “social distancing,” and other elements – lengthy quarantines, widespread mistrust of vaccines, scam artists trying to sell phony cures – have all surfaced in recent months. Presumably Soderbergh’s ‘surprise’ won’t involve the director taking a bow and announcing an end to his latest creation…

There’s actually a precedent for shoehorning medical accessories into an awards ceremony, though the two don’t really seem like they should go together. During the Golden Globes in 2019, the hosts gleefully descended from the stage alongside a herd of lab-coated minions to deliver faux “flu shots” to audience members, an undoubtedly weird display whose timing – a year before the arrival of Covid-19 – must have raised some questions in people’s minds.

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