Winning an Oscar or a Grammy or a freaking Nobel Prize is an achievement that you’d think would have no downside. It would be all sunshine and rainbows as you take your little statue or medal on a tour of all the after-parties and pretend to feed it champagne and whatnot. Sometimes, though, these honors come with drawbacks that nobody ever talks about. In fact, you might not even get a statue.
You Can’t Sell Your Oscar
Winning an Oscar seems like a fast pass to the A-list, but if you believe in curses, it might doom you. Plenty of formerly successful Hollywood heavyweights have picked up weird habits and fallen on hard times. When they start looking around for items to sell to pay off their turtle-racing debts, that little gold man on the shelf proves mighty tempting. The Academy is well aware of that, which is why Oscars won after 1951 cannot be sold unless they are first offered to the Academy for $1. The rule applies even after the winner has died, so if your producer dad left you with nothing but a box of the film industry’s most prestigious awards, he basically left you with nothing.
It might seem like a jerk move, but it makes sense. Oscars won before the rule went into effect have gone for less than $1 million, and those are pretty finite, so the price would certainly fall if there was a fresh influx every year. That means just about any asshole with a sizable but not unimaginable nest egg could put an Oscar on their mantle and hope no one looks at it too closely, and the Academy’s gotta protect their brand. You know how many Best Sound Editing awards are out there in the homes of people who aren’t necessarily rich, whose kids will inevitably need braces? Well, as far as the Academy is concerned — and this is a direct quote — fuck them kids.
You Might Have to Share Custody of Your Oscar
It’s fairly clear-cut who directed or performed in a film, but when it comes to the best song or score, there are all kinds of complicated rules about who actually wins the Oscar. Officially, only two people can win for Best Song, though they may occasionally bend the rules for a third songwriter and they reserve the right, under “very rare and extraordinary circumstance(s),” to award a fourth, but five is right out.
The rules are even more strict for Best Score. No more than two people can win, and that’s only if they each contributed exactly 50 percent of the work. Let the other guy lay down a single note more, and that little resume boost goes right out the window. When there are more songwriters or composers than the allotted number of gold guys, they may have to agree to accept a “group statuette” to display two months out of the year until it’s the next guy’s turn.
We know what you’re thinking: Don’t we always see huge groups of dudes go up to accept the Oscar for Best Picture? What’s the difference? The answers are yes, though it’s slightly deceptive, and the difference isn’t terribly clear. A maximum of six producers can take home a statue for Best Picture, so it’s less than the number of people on the stage, but more than the musical talent. Why? Fuck you, that’s why. These rules are airtight — the freaking Beatles had to share an Oscar. Trent goddamn Reznor had to share for Soul, and thank goodness he already had one for The Social Network because that man deserves something to show for the weirdest successful pivot in Hollywood.
You May Not Win the Nobel Prize Even If Your Work Does
Similarly, only the top three people who worked on a project are given a Nobel Prize, but rather than being forced to share an award, the rest of the team gets nothing. No medal, no fancy party, not even the right to call themselves Nobel laureates. That’s fine for, say, the peace and literature prizes, as you don’t even necessarily have to leave solitary confinement to make strides in those fields, but that hasn’t been true of science in decades. As a result, people get snubbed. In the case of the 2013 physics prize for work with the Higgs boson particle, more than 5,000 people got snubbed.
The reasoning behind why the Nobel committee can’t just change the rules is that Alfred Nobel left very specific instructions in his will for awarding his prize, but if they followed that to the letter, they could only give it to one person. We must conclude, therefore, that it’s solely out of spite, especially when you consider incidents like the man who took out a full-page ad in the New York Times in 2003 demanding recognition for his role in inventing the MRI, the subject of that year’s prize in medicine. Under other circumstances, that would be some messy bullshit, but it’s hard to argue he was wrong.
Winners of the Palme d’Or Can’t Win Anything Else
The Cannes Film Festival is the Oscars of weird indie shit, and its Best Picture is the Palme d’Or, literally the “Golden Palm.” But imagine if everyone nominated in other categories for their work in the Best Picture winner was automatically booted off the list. No Best Screenplay, no Best Director, no acting awards. That’s the situation with the Palme d’Or. The director gets the award, so they can’t complain, but nobody else gets one, and they’re not eligible for any other awards. It evens the playing field in the sense that one movie can’t sweep every category, but it’s not exactly fair if one movie just rules.
The rule has no doubt caused a lot of grumbling among screenwriters and actors over the years, but it’s only been broken once, in 2013 for Blue is the Warmest Color. In addition to the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche, the jury presented its two lead actresses with Golden Palms as compensation for their ineligibility in the acting categories. Kechiche was not happy about this, which isn’t surprising, as stories from the set don’t paint him as the cuddliest guy. At least he was allowed to sell it.
A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Costs $75,000
A monument that will be literally peed on by god knows how many drunk tourists seems like it would be one of the easier ones to get, but nabbing a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame requires jumping through almost as many hoops as getting famous in the first place. Someone who is not you has to submit an application detailing at least five years of your professional achievement and philanthropic efforts as well as a letter from you promising to attend the unveiling ceremony if selected. (This is called the “Springsteen Clause” for fairly self-explanatory reasons.) Considering you have to fight five layers of publicists to get a celebrity to even sign your boob, let alone any kind of document, it’s a wonder anyone gets to the phase where three different civic organizations have to approve the star.
Once that happens, that’s where the real nightmare begins. For one thing, the person who nominated the inductee has to pay for the star, its upkeep and the unveiling ceremony, to the tune of $75,000. This is presumably easy enough to get from your famous new BFF, but fans have resorted to crowdfunding and bake sales to come up with the money. As if that weren’t humiliating enough, the inductee has to schedule the unveiling themselves. There are things more degrading than throwing your own party, but they require disrobing. Just something to keep in mind next time you see someone beaming before their very own star: They had to RSVP to a party they also had to plan that was paid for with overpriced Rice Krispy Treats just so they could kneel in Midwest piss.