Oscar gift baskets, R.I.P.

102245__norton_lThe swag bag is dead, and according to the New York Daily News, Edward Norton killed it. The paper reports that the actor shamed the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association into discontinuing the tradition of giving presenters at the Oscars and the Golden Globes lavish gift baskets stuffed with five figures worth of freebies and luxury items. The goodie bags had been under scrutiny for some time by the IRS, so their demise was probably inevitable, but what may have spurred the awards groups to pull the plug is this recent New York Magazine interview with Norton, who, while promoting his movie The Painted Veil (pictured, featuring Naomi Watts and Norton), said, "If these evenings are going to be a celebration of our craft and what we express about what’s going on in the world, then picking through $35,000 gift baskets is disgusting and shameful." He added, "My suggestion was to have the Academy commit to contributions in the name of the winners, but I don’t know what will come of that." (Translation: Fat chance.)

So, is this a good thing? Is Norton a good Samaritan or a killjoy? Will not reading about the lavish perks given to awards presenters detract from your enjoyment of the Oscar season, or does it come as a relief?

addCredit(“The Painted Veil: Everett Collection”)

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  • Tyler D

    There were honestly people who received substantial enjoyment from hearing about what types of products were included in gift baskets? That’s slightly baffling. Is the enjoyment derived from knowing how much these baskets were worth? I’m siding with Norton on this one. I don’t mind the notion that he cares about his craft and how his profession is perceived.

  • Deb

    I always thought it was baffling that the few people who can afford such lavish gifts tend to be the people who never appreciated getting them free in the first place.

  • PK

    Good for him!!!! About time…that is a year’s salary for the average American.

  • curly951

    Bravo Edward Norton. It’s about time someone had the guts and common decency to speak out about this unseemly practice. Surely someone in the entertainment world can figure out a way to continue to provide the publicity the swag donors crave while donating the proceeds to worthy causes. Anybody heard of eBay???

  • Ep Sato

    After the Sopranos made such a cool episode about this? Man that stinks! I kept hoping some schmoe would immitate Christofa and would punch someone in the face for their goodie bag.
    Lavish gifts and free goodies are being taken away? So now we’ve only got the massive red carpet, interviews with D listers and six figure costing gowns to remind us of who’s famous? The agony!

  • KTS

    It did kill all the enthusiasm I once had for trying to figure out how to become a presenter at one of the major awards shows. But then, that enthusiasm only existed because I can’t afford any of the wondrous items they received. Guess they’ll have to figure out a new way to get free cells and sunglasses. I feel for them deeply….

  • roel

    killjoy! whatever will kathy do?!

  • Sally

    “It did kill all the enthusiasm I once had for trying to figure out how to become a presenter at one of the major awards shows. But then, that enthusiasm only existed because I can’t afford any of the wondrous items they received. Guess they’ll have to figure out a new way to get free cells and sunglasses. I feel for them deeply….”
    LOL – me too!

  • aramis

    Dammit, Ep Sato…
    “Lavish gifts and free goodies are being taken away? So now we’ve only got the massive red carpet, interviews with D listers and six figure costing gowns to remind us of who’s famous? The agony!”
    You took the words right out of my mouth (er, fingertips rather)!
    I don’t know why anyone cares really. I think the inflating costs of motion picture production (I mean, does it really cost $70,000 to blow up some lunky crap car from a junkyard?) is more frightening than how much that skin creme and trip to Bermuda costs. I was kind of hoping that – by the grace of the powers that be – whenever I finally made it up to that level as an aspiring writer that I would be able to get a hovercraft vehicle in MY gift basket, just for being awesome.
    So what’s the new deal? Gift cards to McD’s with the following note…
    “Thanks for taking the time out of your BUSY post-release PARTYING schedule to congratulate yourself and your esteemed ‘colleagues,’ here’s a gift from us to clog what isn’t there in the first place because you stepped on so many people to get here!”
    ???
    =)

  • Bev

    I think the IRS requiring that celebrities pay taxes on the gift bags that they accept may have contributed to their death. Why would they accept something they have to pay for when they already have all that stuff? They usually just gave away all that crap anyway. This is going to hit their assistants worse then it will hit them.

  • Bill

    The swag-a-thon actually dimmed my enthusiasm for the couple of awards shows that I enjoy. Some flowers or a free massage is a thank-you; thousands of dollars worth of gadgets and services given to people who could afford them ten times over is disgusting consumerism. When millionaires are treated to $35000 goodie bags, is it any wonder that the rich get richer while the middle class vanishes and the poor starve? Good for Edward Norton for helping to kill this practice.

  • Mozz

    These people can afford more than 35, 000 thousand dollars worth of goodies, in many cases, a 35, 000 dollar gift to them seems mighty poor… so i’m glad they got it over with… it’s not bad enough that they lead dream lives, they have to be given a gift to be shown how lucky they are? that makes no sense.

  • Kevin

    Nice work Norton! Listen, I have no problem with the privately financed six-figured parties, the ones that take place post-Oscars, but those baskets were always ridiculous to me. Shame on anyone who dislikes the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. It’s one thing to “earn it,” but to merely show up to an awards show doesn’t deserve a $35,000 gift! These actors should be the ones paying the academy for an increase in industry status.

  • Jo

    So noble – So he is going to give back the gift bags or make a contribution for the ones he already recived – right? right? – cough hypocrite, cough

  • NYC Girl

    Good for him.

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