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Hollywood Babylon ... and on and on and on
February 26, 2012 5:27 PM   Subscribe

I Went to the Pre-Oscar Celebrity Gifting Suites and All I Got Was This Sense of Disgust

Here is what happens at gifting suites: A whole bunch of jewelry companies and spas and fashion designers and destination resorts and liquor makers and chi-chi cake bakeries and the like pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of acting enthusiastic to speak to B- or C- or even lesser-list celebrities, while handing those celebrities free things. These celebrities, in turn, act enthusiastic about listening to a five-minute pitch for products like "Whitening Lightning" tooth whitener. Then, the celebrity poses for a picture, grabs their free shit, and moves on to the next trough. It takes about an hour for a celebrity to make a complete circuit, and when it's over, their assistant is carrying enough gift bags to build a four-man tent.
posted by philip-random (70 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
So this blogger hates rich people and the fact they get free stuff. How edgy and interesting.
posted by xmutex at 5:34 PM on February 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


When I write an article about Hollywood, and the movie industry and Oscar related events, I'll probably start out by saying "I had never been to L.A. before, avoid watching the Oscars at all costs, and am incapable of identifying celebrities on sight, and yet I went to Beverly Hills this week to write about "gifting suites...."

Because it indicates a knowledge of the industry, a history with the genre, and a love for everything related to movies, even something as meaningless and trite as a "gifting suite"... i got nothing
posted by HuronBob at 5:34 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fortune passes everywhere, as Gurney used to say.
posted by Mooski at 5:37 PM on February 26, 2012


In trying to figure out just who Hamilton Nolan is, I came upon this.

I only hope to become infamous enough that random people are singing songs about me on youtube.
posted by HuronBob at 5:41 PM on February 26, 2012


.... this ....

I swear, I used the link thingie... I did...
posted by HuronBob at 5:42 PM on February 26, 2012


So this blogger hates rich people and the fact they get free stuff. How edgy and interesting.

I'm not yet ready for a pro-rich-people backlash.
posted by DU at 5:42 PM on February 26, 2012 [61 favorites]


You think the Nobel Prizes have gifting suites, and if so what do they get?
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hollywood is vapid, which is why I don't pay attention, but this one time I paid attention and it was really vapid. Film at 11.

I don't really get the point of this kind of faux journalism where a writer has pre-conceived notions of what things are like and confirm it by being as uncharitable and disinterested as possible. Why go if you're going to hate it? Free swag can't mean that much to you.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:43 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


You think the Nobel Prizes have gifting suites, and if so what do they get?

Garage-sized hadron colliders and sexy assistants to help you use them, either petite and blonde or tall, dark and handsome, depending on your poison.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2012


He only used the word "douchebag" twice. Surely it should be in the byline as well.
posted by Marky at 5:45 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


He only used the word "douchebag" twice.

Maybe that was one of the free gifts.
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


"hadron colliders and sexy assistants"

You know, if you reverse the d and the r in that first word.....
posted by HuronBob at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, it looks from the content of this article as though he didn't talk to a single person the whole time he was in Beverly Hills. I'm sure glad he could use their appearances to draw conclusions about them instead!
posted by troublesome at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


"I don't really get the point of this kind of faux journalism where a writer has pre-conceived notions of what things are like and confirm it by being as uncharitable and disinterested as possible."

It's not journalism - it's Gawker. Name says it all…
posted by Pinback at 5:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Worst of Gawker or wurst of "Hollywood"?
posted by mattbucher at 5:49 PM on February 26, 2012


This isn't even well-written, it's just boring.
posted by mek at 5:51 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Gifting" makes me desperately wish I could punch a word in the face.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:53 PM on February 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


Beverly Hills announces itself with shiny cars and shinier lawns: Tesla dealership, Porsche dealership, Ferrari dealership, Church of Latter Day Saints headquarters with a rolling lawn so pristine it must, must, must be maintained by cult members.

I wasn't aware the Mormons had their HQ in Beverly Hills. So that big complex in SLC is just some sort of annex? Or did the author mean Scientology?
posted by birdherder at 5:54 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wish that there had been content. It could have been an interesting article.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:56 PM on February 26, 2012


Oh come on, people, it's award show season. I need some cynicism, no matter if it is predictable.
posted by Mcable at 5:56 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


wurst of "Hollywood"?

Now there's an interesting image.

I'll go get my grinder....
posted by pompomtom at 6:01 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's a Mormon Temple in West L.A. It's not in Beverly Hills but if you're into saying random shit without checking your facts, then I guess you could say it's in Beverly Hills.

Now that I think about it I've never seen anyone working on their lawn.
posted by rdr at 6:07 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This made me want to reread the comic R. Crumb did after Premiere Magazine sent him to the Oscars.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:10 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


i think they might have been talking about one of the temples. the landscaping at those are always pristine.
posted by nadawi at 6:11 PM on February 26, 2012


So y'all love the idea of gifting suites? This just underlines the point that one of the perks of being really rich is that you don't ever have to pay for anything.
posted by maxwelton at 6:20 PM on February 26, 2012


shirt-arms

Sleeves. They're called sleeves.

Gotta love how dude is all, "I am totally unfamiliar with Hollywood culture," before immediately launching into, "Oh my god, everyone conforms to these Hollywood stereotypes that I just said I am unaware of and therefore must be basing solely on those very people I'm judging for conforming to those stereotypes!"
posted by Sys Rq at 6:20 PM on February 26, 2012


Rodrigo Lamaitre: "You think the Nobel Prizes have gifting suites, and if so what do they get?

Garage-sized hadron colliders and sexy assistants to help you use them, either petite and blonde or tall, dark and handsome, depending on your poison.
"

All of the above, please.

SCIENCE! is better in a group.
posted by Samizdata at 6:22 PM on February 26, 2012


Well next time don't go into the Pre-Oscar Celebrity Gifting Suites.
posted by dobie at 6:29 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


This made me want to reread the comic R. Crumb did after Premiere Magazine sent him to the Oscars.

Or when Premiere sent Willem DeGroot to the Adult Video Awards in Las Vegas.
posted by Flashman at 6:41 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You think the Nobel Prizes have gifting suites, and if so what do they get?

Free copies of Napoleon Dynamite.
posted by webhund at 6:47 PM on February 26, 2012


What did I get from the article? Well, it reminded me not to read Gawker articles, and it drove me to do a little research, which revealed that some people really don't like Hamilton Nolan.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:55 PM on February 26, 2012


imagine dying and going to heaven and learning that this is exactly what heaven is like and they laugh at you if you seriously (seriously?) thought it would be anything like anything else other than just one big gifting suite
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:00 PM on February 26, 2012


So this blogger hates rich people and the fact they get free stuff. How edgy and interesting.

I'm not yet ready for a pro-rich-people backlash.
So long as we can keep it framed in terms of us-vs-them, I'm on board.
posted by !Jim at 7:18 PM on February 26, 2012


The only interesting thing of that whole piece was this:
The next day, I wandered the streets of Beverly Hills. For a while I tried to record all the luxury cars I passed, but that quickly grew tiresome. Once you've seen three separate Bentleys being driven on errands like so many Honda Civics, or two identical gleaming white Mercedes SL's facing each other at a stoplight, or the two-tone black and yellow Bugatti with the "BIJAN" plates parked in front of the Bijan store on Rodeo Drive, making a note of the 38th Benz coupe you passed by gets boring. Let's say there were a lot.
Yes, that I remember as being one of the most amazing things about living in Westwood (bordering Brentwood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica! woohoo!). I remember seeing a multi-thousand dollar Bentley parked on street-parking on the hill by the science buildings at UCLA where I never parked my beater Corolla for fear of getting hit.

I also used to play 'count the Mercedes' (C-classes didn't count) when I sat in traffic on Sepulveda. Or I'd play 'Bentley or Bugatti' driving down Rodeo Drive. The best part was, I had fun doing all of this and I frankly kind of enjoyed my time sightseeing in the alien land of rich-people West LA.

Contrast Gawker author, who could not be less impressed (but at the same time, comes off as super insecure and impressed but ashamed to admit it) and therefore, could not be less interesting.
posted by librarylis at 7:28 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Patton Oswalt has a much better essay on the subject, in his book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland .


"…the term “gifting suite” has this sinister, Orwellian quality. Like something Warren Ellis would come up with as a creepy, throwaway bit of dialogue. Come to think of it, I’ll probably co-opt the term for something else I write. Maybe a “gifting suite” is a torture room, or a lab where they infect subjects with biological agents, shit like that. Hands off, Warren.

It still wouldn’t be half as horrifying as the real gifting suite I visited."

posted by St. Sorryass at 7:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


I get this same feeling of disgust when I visit Gawker.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:05 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I guess this person hasn't seen that one Sopranos episode with Ben Kingsley, then.
posted by ErikaB at 8:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it comes across as a bit insincere for a long time gawker editor to claim to be entirely disconnected from and bored by celebrity.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:00 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Patton Oswalt has a much better essay on the subject.

Seconded. Seek it out, because it's well worth reading. "I Went to an MTV Gifting Suite and All I Got Was This Lousy Awareness of My Own Shallowness" contains a number of delightful observations, but this is the one that stuck:

"It comes down to this: I love money. I love success and fame even more. But I worked very hard to get money so I can pay for things myself. That’s what turns me on and makes me happy. Having shit handed to me by surly hipsters, or people whose mouths smile but eyes don’t, is bad for the soul."

It's a wonderful summation of how actual accomplishment bolsters the soul in the way that unearned things do not.
posted by sobell at 9:02 PM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ryan Seacrest gets commie ashes!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 PM on February 26, 2012


I don't really get the point of this kind of faux journalism where a writer has pre-conceived notions of what things are like and confirm it by being as uncharitable and disinterested as possible. Why go if you're going to hate it? Free swag can't mean that much to you.
Yawn. The metafilter "hate everything" brigade strikes again. Had this been a straight news article about these gifting suites people would be saying "OMG, ridiculous". However, since it's an article saying "OMG these gifting suites are ridiculous" the response instead is "OMG, Trite and obvious article is trite and obvious, film at 11 guys! Plus EW Gawker gross"

Ridiculous. I'd heard of giving gift boxes, I'm actually not sure if I understood the concept of a 'gifting suite' before, I assumed that it was just something done at the Oscars like backstage or something, and that you'd get one little bag you could carry with maybe an expensive cell phone and some equally expensive items.

I had no idea that they were setup all over town, that random celebrities could attend, that you could get so much stuff you had to have an assistant carry it. I didn't know what kind of outfits the b-list celebrities were wearing. How would I have ever known any of that if I haddn't read an article like that? I certainly wouldn't spend my time reading straight-forward reporting on nonsense like this, but I found this article entertaining.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 PM on February 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, delmoi, a lot of us here are offended by the article because we work in The Industry and we really like dressing up and going to the pre-oscar gifting suites and pretending to be interested while we put more free stuff in our assistant's leather duffel bag. The article just makes all that look silly without respecting the good parts of it.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:42 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


what delmoi said.
posted by philip-random at 10:29 PM on February 26, 2012


That image lined from Binito is delightful. I'd like to rent a Gifting Suite (HA!) at the Black Tulip and invite the subject of that image.
posted by Goofyy at 10:37 PM on February 26, 2012


where 'lined' = 'linked', obviously.
posted by Goofyy at 10:37 PM on February 26, 2012


Yeah, no, this isn't actually what Beverly Hills is like outside of a very narrow bubble, and really "Asshole sees assholes everywhere" is weak sauce.
posted by klangklangston at 10:42 PM on February 26, 2012


jonmc: "You think the Nobel Prizes have gifting suites, and if so what do they get?"

Gold plated atoms.
posted by Splunge at 10:49 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The writer, like most writers for Gawker, comes off like a self-absorbed pretentious prick. I don't for an instant believe this writer is just soooo above it all. I mean, this is Gawker. This is like Paris Hilton complaining about how the new generation of actors are publicity whores.
posted by savvysearch at 11:31 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been to one of these.

There were a bunch of companies that wanted my business (or thought that my good opinion of them might help influence others) so they set up an event where I could go around all these gifting stations collecting free shit while they pitched their products or services to me. I didn't have an assistant at the time, so I took a huge bag along instead and that worked out pretty well.

There was definitely a real air of cynicism about the whole thing. You could tell that despite needing our business or endorsements a lot of the gifters disapproved of our lifestyle or thought we were dumb and shallow. Most of them assumed we could be bought pretty easily. For our part, we had no intention of ever using most of those products and of the ones that did appeal we were careful to take so much swag, that the odds we'd ever need to give the company our money within the next year were slim indeed.

It was a pretty much the sordid experience described in the article with both sides out to take what they could grab. The only real difference was that the swag was slightly cheaper and instead of "a Pre-Oscar Celebrity Gifting Suite" they called it a "University Freshers' Fair".

I'm told that similar events are taking place across the country under the name "Wedding Fair". Maybe Gawker should send somebody?
posted by the latin mouse at 11:59 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was a pretty much the sordid experience described in the article with both sides out to take what they could grab.

Sounds like fun!
posted by From Bklyn at 12:14 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Had this been a straight news article about these gifting suites people would be saying "OMG, ridiculous". However, since it's an article saying "OMG these gifting suites are ridiculous" the response instead is "OMG, Trite and obvious article is trite and obvious, film at 11 guys! Plus EW Gawker gross"

God, yeah. This attitude ("How dare people outside of Metafilter also have opinions") is my least favourite thing about my favourite site (along with its cousin "Let's just take non-Mefites' throwaway jokes as solemn excerpts from their evil manifestos wherever possible"), though I don't think either of them have been as prevalent recently. Unless I'm just getting used to it.

The idea of celebrities getting mountains of free swag just for being rich and famous already is fucking gross. I have zero reservations about saying that, and neither should anybody else.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:03 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Naah, it's just a workers' perk, like how the olden time London porters used to be able to swipe the odd bit of cargo from the ships they were unloading.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:30 AM on February 27, 2012


Had this been a straight news article about these gifting suites people would be saying "OMG, ridiculous". However, since it's an article saying "OMG these gifting suites are ridiculous" the response instead is "OMG, Trite and obvious article is trite and obvious, film at 11 guys! Plus EW Gawker gross"

Let me see if I can balance on two high horses at once: I can think that "gifting suites" are shallow and ridiculous and believe that trite and obvious article is trite and obvious. Look! No hands!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:36 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's so much that the events and phenomena described in the article aren't interesting or worth discussing, it's that this person is more interested in talking about how disgusted and 'above it' they are instead of going into detail as to why.

Yes, opulence is bizarre and disgusting, but I have like, 3 metric Livejournals worth of dismissive snark of my own: I've only been to Hollywood once, I've never been to a NASCAR race, a Republican convention, Dragon*Con, or a wine-tasting either, anyone want to send me and read two pages of my preconceived notions while i deftly avoid talking about the events beyond the details I accidentally let slip out when I take a breath to continue blathering on about how I'm too good to be there?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:44 AM on February 27, 2012


I've been to a DragonCon. Somehow I imagine a Republican Convention as something like an extremely white and uptight version of the same.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:50 AM on February 27, 2012


I've been to a DragonCon. Somehow I imagine a Republican Convention as something like an extremely white and uptight version of the same.

You have the undead walking around. (Dick Cheney with no pulse)
Discussions of obscure citations in rulebooks.
But who wants to see Sarah Palin in the 'con standard Princess Leia Slave outfit?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:24 AM on February 27, 2012


I agree with octobersurprise - I think gifting suites are silly, but this was also very poorly written, smug, hypocritical, and used hatred and jealousy instead of interviews or research. It imparted very, very little new information other than that this writer hates people who have more wealth than he does, which is probably the exact "right" amount of wealth (as the single box of coconut water and a single piece of bruschetta were obviously the "right" amount of stuff to take). I'm not that familiar with Gawker, though, so if this really is indicative of the quality of their articles, I am kind of surprised they've been around as long as they have. Even shameless celebrity gossip rags at least pretend to impart new information about the world.
posted by wending my way at 7:44 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the Sopranos episode where Christopher tries to put the frighteners on Ben Kingsley, and ends up mugging Lauren Bacall for her gift basket.
posted by veedubya at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2012


Strange reaction here.

If the article was written from the opposite perspective it would probably have 300 comments that all sounded more or less like the linked article.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:00 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I figure the Gifting Suite at the Pulitzers is merely an open bar. We're talking writers here.
posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on February 27, 2012



My cousin covers the awards, as an editor for Variety and my sister works in advertising. Basically these can be soul-crushing jobs if it weren't for the cocktails and the swag.

The entertainment industry is just that, an industry. They refer to Hollywood as a company town, and it is. Gifting suites are Hollywood's version of the Expo part of any other industry's annual conference. So while I might be getting a free pair of Crocs for going to 8 specified booths to hear pitches for products I have no intention of using at DreamForce (for Salesforce.com Users) my sister got an all expense-paid ultra-luxury cruise of the Mediterranian from Viacom. (I was her Plus-1 and let me tell you, one of the best experiences of my life!)

So ease up, celebrities get swag, most of which goes to their assistants, housekeepers, gardeners and not so well-connected family memebers.

The two most bizarre but awesome things my sister got through her job:

Tempurpedic Bed
Lasik Surgery

She also got an iPad, but that's not bizarre, just awesome.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here, anything that is necessary is, by definition, low class.

Wow, the Republican party ethos summarized in one sentence. Ironic that Hollywood is considered a liberal haven? I'm voting "Swag" this year.
posted by incandissonance at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2012


ruthless bunny, maybe that level of comping isn't so normal for many of us? i know i'm looking sideways at your post like His Master's Voice like, really,???? what the fuck??????
posted by beefetish at 10:09 AM on February 27, 2012


ruthless bunny, maybe that level of comping isn't so normal for many of us? i know i'm looking sideways at your post like His Master's Voice like, really,???? what the fuck??????

It's normal for Advertising and for Hollywood. My sister lives in Texas FWIW. Imagine the swag if she lived in New York or LA.

Also, I gave her my Crocs. Fair's fair.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:45 AM on February 27, 2012


But who wants to see Sarah Palin in the 'con standard Princess Leia Slave outfit?

::ignites pilot light on flamethrower, reduces brain to char to wipe the thought out::
posted by FatherDagon at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the night's real action was at post-Oscar celebrity arresting suites.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2012


> Apparently, the night's real action was at post-Oscar celebrity arresting suites.

Young speaks (warning: TMZ).
posted by Burhanistan at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2012


Let me see if I can balance on two high horses at once: I can think that "gifting suites" are shallow and ridiculous and believe that trite and obvious article is trite and obvious. Look! No hands!
So? I would probably enjoy going to one of these gifting suites and getting a bunch of free stuff. And I enjoyed the article. Just because something is shallow/obvious/trite/whatever doesn't mean it can't be entertaining. Plus, like I said, it wasn't familiar to me. I'd never heard of "gifting suites", just gift bags at awards shows (which I assumed meant something that could be carried in one, moderately sized bag)

And like I said, if you don't care much about Hollywood and don't watch E! or read Perez Hilton (or whatever) how would you have ever heard of any of this?

By framing the information as a snaky attack on Hollywood, you end up creating something that might be seen by people who don't follow the Kardasians's twitter feeds and might be interesting to people who don't spend all their time thinking about Taylor Swift.
Apparently, the night's real action was at post-Oscar celebrity arresting suites.
Woah, the chick from Blade Runner? Really?
posted by delmoi at 9:12 AM on February 28, 2012


It has come to our attention that Hamilton Nolan has written a very unnecessary and hateful article slandering our name, and Gawker has released it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2012


> Woah, the chick from Blade Runner? Really?

Young has had a pretty long history of not getting along well with Hollywood A-listers while always trying to break back in to the in-crowd.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 AM on February 28, 2012


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