Now that the dust has settled on the Oscars - which, in case you're interested, I watched on the Monday night, as live, having taped the ceremony the night before, as planned, and skilfully avoided the results for the whole of the next day - I want to talk about standing ovations.
Now, I've attended awards ceremonies in my time and I've been swept up in the moment and joined in a standing ovation. It happens. If you've read The Wisdom of Crowds by The New Yorker's James Surowecki - or, frankly, read the explanatory title - you'll understand that the will of the many sometimes overtakes the will of the few.
At its best, the standing ovation, usually effected by the peers of the individual picking up an award, is an organic thing. It generally recognises an achievement beyond simply winning. It can also be nothing less than a spontaneous display of love.
I'll tread carefully here, but I felt, at this year's Oscars, the standing ovation came close to devaluing itself. Being upstanding is a perfectly natural reaction to Christopher Plummer winning best supporting actor for Beginners.
He's 82 - one year younger than Oscar, as he said in his witty speech - and has been acting on screen for longer than most of us can remember. He deserves special treatment from his peers. What a trouper. I can just about forgive the standing ovation for Meryl Streep, although she appeared to be overwhelmed and surprised by it. (Mind you, she is a great actress.)
As these displays of perpendicular appreciation are not scripted or planned, you have to assume that the Academy was honouring a colleague who has been nominated 17 times, and is now a grand old lady of acting. Fair enough.
So why - and I merely ask the question; I don't have the definitive answer - did Octavia Spencer also get a standing ovation when she won best supporting actress for The Help? Like Meryl, she'd already won the Globe and the Bafta, so it was hardly a surprise. What was special about this win?
Spencer has been acting since the mid-90s. She's not that new to the industry, even if she is new to winning awards. She had to be helped onstage by her partner, but not because she is disabled - she was just wearing an impractical dress for walking up steps.
She was crying by the time she reached the podium, yes, but not because she was sad, because she was happy. And do tears deserve an ovation? It's true, Spencer is one of only a criminally tiny handful of black actors to have won an Oscar. So, one wonders, were the Academy - 94% white according to a revealing survey - simply assuaging their own liberal guilt at the implicit "colour bar" at the Oscars?
If they were, and we can never know without retroactively attaching electrodes to all of their brains and hooking them up to a machine, then their standing ovation was for all the right reasons, but had a patronising effect. We should all feel embarrassed that the Oscar roll-call recognises so few non-white actors, and so few female technicians and directors, too, while we're at it. (The Academy is 77% male, too, as it turns out.)
But if three out of the four actors honoured on the night got a standing ovation, it starts to look bad for poor Jean Dujardin, who collected his statuette while all but his own party stayed seated. This is the danger of overdoing the gesture. You set your own collective precedent.
I actually think Octavia Spencer deserved her award, even though The Help is not my favourite film of the bunch by any stretch of the imagination. It's cool when a performer whose bigger recent parts have been in the remake of Halloween II and the awful Dinner for Schmucks finds a role that allows her to shine and enter the spotlight and get asked, "Who are you wearing?" on red carpets. But let's save up the standing ovation for when she's 82.