This SEAL primary assembly looks at the culture of giving rewards and awards and examines the feelings involved, including jealousy – using the Academy Awards as a discussion point


  • Picture of an Oscar.
  • Lovely picture of George Clooney with one

Next Sunday is Oscar Night. That’s a huge event held in Hollywood to give out awards to people for their work in films. Now we know all about giving awards, don’t we (mention any awards you give in school – Head’s award, merits etc). So that means you might know what it feels like to get one. There’s not really any difference. Any film star or movie director who gets an Oscar feels exactly the same as you when you come up here to get an award. Yes, they’re on television across the whole world, so maybe that’s in their minds a bit, but I’d guess they don’t feel any different inside. All human beings react in similar ways to disappointment and triumph – whether they’re famous or not. I think that’s why everyone’s interested in the Oscars – they know how the people getting the awards are feeling.

The story of the Oscars
The Oscar is a gold plated statuette, about 30 centimetres tall, and quite heavy – you can see it’s heavy when it’s handed over one person to another. The proper name is the Academy Award of Merit. Oscar began as a nickname in the early nineteen thirties – nobody’s sure quite how, but a popular theory is that when Academy librarian (and eventual executive director) Margaret Herrick saw the trophy for the first time, she remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar. Now, though, the nickname is official, and has been since 1939.

The awards are given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – this is made up of lots of members, all of whom work or have worked in the film business, as an actor, director, writer, or producer for example. A few weeks before the Academy Awards ceremony, each member votes for the person they think should get the Oscar in each category, choosing out of a group of nominees. At the moment there are 24 categories, including best picture (or film), best leading actor, best leading actress, best supporting actor and actress, best director, best song, and best costumes. On the night, all the nominees are present, and the winners are announced one category at a time. Each winner is a secret, and their name is kept in a sealed envelope until it’s opened on the stage.

Here are some of the real reactions from people who’ve been nominated in the past:

“I started hopping around my kitchen, and I think I burned half my food. No matter how long you been at it, it’s always exciting.” Dolly Parton

“I’m damn near 37 years old, and I’m jumping up and down on the bed like my 10-year-old. I was a wild man.” Terrence Howard

“I am flying!” Felicity Huffman

So even before the ceremony, people are already excited at being nominated. Then they have to sit in the Kodak Movie Theatre in Hollywood to see who actually wins the Oscar. The nominees’ names are read out, and a bit of their films are shown, and then a posh envelope is brought on to the stage with the winner’s name in it. It usually goes like this. [Act this out with a envelope]

“The winner of the category for best actor is…….”

[Stop there for a moment]

How do you think the nominees are feeling at that moment? Try to imagine it. What sort of face might you pull? Let me see you do it.

But remember that the TV cameras are on you. So what sort of face should you present? Yes, very calm. As if it doesn’t really matter. No emotion at all. Let me see you do that. Would that be that easy? Of course not.

Then the card with the winner’s name is brought out of the envelope. [Read out a name – your own perhaps] And the cameras immediately go to the person who’s won. And then to the other nominees.

How do you think the other nominees feel? Disappointed? Jealous perhaps? But can they show that on their faces? Can they go “Oh no! Not her!” And tear up their programmes?

No; they have to look as if they’re pleased for the person who’s won. Are they really pleased for that person? That depends, of course. They may genuinely like the person who’s won. They may secretly think that the winner genuinely deserves it. That makes the disappointment easier to bear. Or they may feel that it’s a terrible decision. But for the moment they have to smile and clap along with everyone else.

Are those natural feelings, that everyone has? I think so. Here’s a little story.

Marek was upset. He was sulking, and not eating his supper.

“What’s the matter, Marek?” asked his Mum.

“I thought I would get a certificate for good work today,” he said. “But I didn’t get one.”

“Oh really?” said Mum. “Is that so terrible?”

“Well,” said Marek. “What annoyed me is that my friend Thomas got one, and I didn’t. Usually, we are the same in everything.”

“So how do you feel?” said Marek’s mum. “Are you jealous? Are you angry?”

Marek thought for a while, then he said. “Both, I suppose,” he said. “I really wanted that certificate and when Thomas got one instead of me, that made it worse.”

“Well now, Marek,” said his mum, sitting down beside him. “I think that you are having two bad feelings and they are working together to make you feel even worse. Let’s see if we can change that.”

“How will you change it?” said Marek.

“Well, let’s think,” said his mum. “Firstly, you are jealous. That’s a horrible feeling. It gets you nowhere. It doesn’t make you feel better, and it won’t change things. Thomas has the certificate. You don’t. Is that Thomas’s fault? No, it is not. So why have a bad feeling towards him? Secondly you are angry. That comes from your jealousy. Tell me something.”

“What?” said Marek.

“Tell me, is Tommy your friend?” said Mum.

Marek nodded.

“Well than why be angry with your friend, that’s no use is it? You need all the friends you can get is what I think. Now let me ask you something else. Is it a good thing that Tommy has an award? Is he pleased? Will his mum be pleased? Yes, you think? Then why are you as his friend not pleased? Be pleased with him. Isn’t that the best way between true friends?”

Marek thought for a while, then nodded.

His mum patted him on the shoulder. “It’s not easy Marek. Sometimes you might be jealous but you have to put your own feelings on hold and be pleased for your friend. If he is your friend then when he is pleased, you should be pleased, because you like him and want him to have good feelings. That’s the way true friendship goes, Marek.”

Can you be pleased when your friends are successful, even when you are not? Like Marek’s mum says, it’s not easy. But we have to try, because – what did Marek’s mum say? – “That’s the way true friendship goes.”

Let’s hope the people at the Oscars feel the same way. If you do manage to see any of it, keep an eye on the people who are nominated but who don’t win, and see if you think they have been able to follow the advice of Marek’s mum and be pleased for their colleague – whether they are jealous are not.

A prayer
Lord, help us to take pleasure in the success and achievement of other people. Keep us free from acting on jealousy and being spiteful, and work in the hearts of those who haven’t yet learned this important lesson for life.

We thank you for all who work in entertainment, who bring light and colour to our lives. May they always use their talents generously and well, ready to give credit where it’s due.

A thought
Generosity fills your heart with warmth. Jealousy is cold and drains away good feelings.

Further information
The official Oscars website. Here you can watch the nominations being announced. Notice how some get surprised applause because they are unexpected.

All quotes are taken from

This e-bulletin issue was first published in February 2009

About the author: Gerald Haigh