Thanks to a recent Internal Revenue Service crackdown, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has discontinued its practice of reimbursing the celebrities who undertake the solemn duty of handing out Golden Globes. (The Oscars and Emmys have announced similar policy changes.) Once again, The Man is stepping on the little guy – dictating how honest, tax-paying (well, they’re paying them now) press associations can and cannot compensate their celebrity presenters. Does the IRS not understand the ramifications of its actions? If not, allow me to make a case for the swag bag.
The swag bag tradition began in the late 1980s as a discreet thank-you for presenters at the Oscars. Since then, these symbols of affection have grown in step with the cost of living in Hollywood. Swag bags are by no means large or gaudy — they're dainty, if you will — and filled with simple items, essential to life in Southern California. Last year’s bag, for example, contained only a $2000 gym membership, a $1,200 diamond pendant, an $865 Chopard watch, a $475 camera phone, handbags, MP3 players, and a slew of gift certificates – all valued at the paltry total of $40,000.
In today’s world, even a schoolteacher could afford one of these bags (given eight or nine years to save up). But apparently, America's hard-working award show presenters have already received too much thanks. When will the IRS understand that celebrities are just another blue-collar class, struggling to get by like the rest of us? It’s not as though celebrities have the time, money, or inclination to spend on themselves when there are hungry, uneducated people in the world the need their help. Celebrities depend on these swag bag handouts to survive!
If not for the gratuities provided to them for their three-minute effort of walking across a stage and handing a statuette to another celebrity, these people would be forced to spend their own money on goods and services! Surely such a travesty — a miscarriage of justice — has never before occurred in the Hollywood institution.
For shame, IRS. For shame.