On the list of people in the world who have things to worry about, the famous actors and directors nominated at this year’s Oscars make up the very last 25 of those spots. Fine, I am sure some of them have legitimate stressors in their lives, but I also hope that being nominated for the most prestigious award in their chosen field mitigates at least some of that.
But despite this, nominees for acting and directing awards will all receive products to help calm them down. This year, the Oscars gift bags will include chocolates infused with THC, CBD skin care, private therapy sessions for “phobia relief,” and, for some reason, a toilet plunger.
These gift bags — which often include six figures’ worth of products — have nothing to do with the actual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, by the way; they’re operated by a marketing company you’ve probably never heard of called Distinctive Assets. Typically they include weird spa services, vacations (in 2016, a $55,000 all-inclusive trip offered by ExploreIsrael.com incited protests from groups like the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the Jewish Voice for Peace), and other random items like dog mattresses, children’s books, or CPR training.
The reason dog mattresses and controversial vacations end up in the hands of the world’s most famous celebrities, of course, is that companies pay them to. Entrepreneur estimated that it could cost brands between $5,000 and $20,000 for their products to end up in Oscars gift bags, all in the hopes that celebrities might actually like them, and therefore influence others to pay for them.
Which brings us back to THC-infused chocolates. It is not exactly a shock that brands shilling THC, CBD, and otherwise marijuana-adjacent products are competing to get into the hands of celebrities; it’s a rapidly booming (and now very crowded) industry that includes everything from ice cream to dog treats. Coffee shop chalkboards can’t wait to tell you about their new CBD lattes, and nearly every journalist I know has an email inbox absolutely littered with pitches for whatever the latest iteration is.
What’s interesting, though, is that it’s an example of how pervasive anxiety consumerism — the industry that has exploded over the past decade by selling us stuff that claims to calm us down — has reached some of the most untouchable people in the world. Anxiety, which is increasing in the US and is now the most common mental illness in the country, is almost a presumed condition for consumers at this point, considering the ways products like weighted blankets and fidget devices are marketed to us.
Whether this stuff actually works is more complicated — nobody really knows what CBD actually does, and no one specific product is going to actually “cure” the underlying causes of anxiety, even when it may alleviate some of the symptoms. But that hasn’t stopped people from making lots of money off them.
Here are just some of the items in this year’s Oscars gift bag alongside the usual allotments of vacations and jewelry, per the Independent:
– Coda Signature premium cannabis-infused edibles, topicals and concentrates
– An annual VIP membership to MOTA, LA’s first cannabis-friendly social club
– Private phobia relief sessions with the world’s number one phobia expert Kalliope Barlis
– Age Interventionist Renee Lynn’s CBDRxSupreme protocol
– High Beauty High Five Cannabis Facial Moisturizer and High Expectations Cannabis Facial Oil Instytutum skincare products
Combining all of these things — hanging out at a fancy pot-friendly club, receiving a CBD spa treatment, rubbing oil on your face regardless of whether it does anything, popping a bunch of THC-laced chocolates, and, of course, therapy — theoretically, sure, may help a stressed-out Oscar nominee achieve a more relaxed state.
But for the rest of us, reaching the same level of chill will cost thousands of dollars. It’s just one of the many unfortunate things about not being incredibly rich and famous: When we experience anxiety, we’re actually expected to pay for these possibly bogus treatments.