The best part about going to the Oscars is the swag, and the best part about the swag this year is that it will contain pepper spray! Yup, the cute little bags of goodies — which are in no way connected to the Academy and its branding — will contain a small bottle of harm-your-enemy juice, the New York Daily News reports.
The spray included is actually Pepperface, a sleek, branded pepper spray — it's gourmet and considered "stylish." The website touts PepperFace as a "fashion-forward everyday carry item." You can get PepperFace bottles in pink, you can get them in blue, you can even get bottles adorned with Swarovski crystals. Which is to say, this is Oscar-worthy pepper spray. According to a press release, the spray is a response to the #MeToo movement, the idea being that no one will get assaulted if they have pepper spray in their bags! (And the spray is cute, too! Perfect for tiny feminine fingers.) Who needs systemic change in Hollywood when you have a tiny bottle of a violent substance? The bag also reportedly contains a gift card for an 18-minute phobia-relief session with Kalliope Barlis, .
There's a lot of lore surrounding the gift bags handed out at the Oscars. Assembled by a third-party marketing company, the bags are made up of donations from companies seeking that sweet sweet celebrity #spon. According to USA Today, the gift bags this year will contain $35,000 (£24,000) worth of holidays. So, if you don't take home a statuette, you can take home a relaxing trip away, such as a 7-day Hawaiian vacation at Koloa Landing Resort in Poipu, Hawaii. This year's bag also includes underarm sweat patches, the weight loss supplement Hydroxycut Organic, and a "Justice for Vets symbolic coin," among other things.
As swanky as it seems, the gift bag has some baggage (ha) of its own. As per Forbes, if attendees choose to take the bag home, they have to report it as income, which means the IRS receives a hefty cut. The bag this year is valued at over $100,000 (£70,000). The Academy itself has a strained relationship with the company. In 2016, the Academy sued Distinctive Assets, the marketing company that takes care of the bags, for implicitly attaching the Oscars trademark to the bags.
"Deeply concerned about the confusion Distinctive Assets was spreading, the Academy’s legal counsel wrote Distinctive Assets on or about February 17, 2015, to inform it that it 'is critical that no one be confused into believing that your gift bags are associated with or have any connection with the Academy," the lawsuit read.
The bags are now called "Everyone Wins" gift bags so as to keep the distance between the Academy and the pile o' cash that Oscar attendees receive. And winning, apparently, means getting a cute bottle of pepper spray.
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