The Oscars stepped on yet another rake en route to its annual broadcast.
Late last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it will pre-record select awards prior to the show and include an abbreviated version of them in the broadcast.
The show is three-plus hours long, and this will help reduce that running time by a few minutes. Cue the industry outrage, magnified by the press and leading to at least one high-profile resignation.
The decision alienated industry insiders, no doubt, but will have negligible impact on the show’s ratings. A few minutes shaved off an already gargantuan broadcast won’t coax many viewers back.
Oscar producers fear another historic ratings low come March 27, and who can blame them? Last year’s dismal 10.4 million figure represented a staggering 56 percent drop from the previous year. The 2022 broadcast may yield similar numbers, if not worse, given the lack of blockbusters up for awards.
Only “Dune” can be considered a populist entry, and the film earned a modest $108 million at stateside theaters. For context, the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot generated $128 million and cost Sony a reported $70 million.
The real story is how blind, willingly or otherwise, show producers are to the real problems plaguing the Oscars.
Let’s start with a reality no Oscar producer can fix. We see stars morning, noon and night in our current culture. We watch their Instagram stories, read their Tweets and see them on late night couches and elsewhere.
We can’t escape them, part of an emerging media landscape that didn’t exist 30-odd years ago. Or even 20. That means seeing them assemble on Oscar night is less enticing.
Mass Appeal Went the Way of the 8-Track Tape
The movies themselves are part of the problem. Populism is no longer part of the Oscar DNA. Even recent films like “Green Book” and “The King’s Speech” proved both expertly crafted and brimming with mass appeal.
Now, niche fair like “Moonlight,” “The Shape of Water” and “Nomadland” are the Oscar standard bearers. Those films earned a fraction of what the average superhero movie generates in a weekend, meaning most movie goers have never seen them.
And never will.
The movies themselves suffered a body blow with the pandemic, as many features bowed on streaming services instead of your local cineplex. That cultural change may be inevitable, but it makes the films feel smaller, less consequential.
And, as a result, less worthy of a tony event like the Oscars.
The biggest threat facing the Oscars broadcast isn’t just ignored by the Academy. The institution is cheering it on, unaware it’s crushing a once-beloved institution.
Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul
Woke is everywhere in Hollywood, infesting the Oscar ceremony in critical ways. The recent “diversity” mandate for Best Picture nominees made it official, but it was beside the point. La La Land went woke long before that.
How does that impact the Oscars ceremony? Let’s count the ways:
- Woke monologues: Less funny, more virtue signaling
- Woke acceptance speeches: Finger wagging lectures that alienate half the country
- Woke nominees: Progressive politics that divide viewers and often lead to inferior product
The latest clue that Oscar producers are out of touch with the viewing audience? The Academy chose a trio of “stars” to host this year’s gala – Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. Two of the three are aggressively partisan, telling heartland viewers this year’s show will be as progressive as the past.
None are peaking in popularity at the moment. Schumer’s star power soared after her “Trainwreck” became a hit. That was seven years ago.
Here’s How to Bring Back Oscar Viewers
Imagine if the Oscars invited Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle or Joe Rogan to host the show. The ratings would leap dramatically.
- Would Gervais repeat his 2020 Golden Globes skewering of the elite?
- Could Chappelle lap his controversial Netflix stand-up with his Oscar monologue?
- Would Rogan’s very presence suggest Hollywood is taking a stand against Cancel Culture scolds at long last?
Choosing one of the three would bring a sense of excitement, even danger, to the affair. Instead, the Academy chose divisive figures without the requisite fan bases to draw a crowd. Love or hate Rogan, Chappelle or Gervais, you wouldn’t dare tune out.
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The biggest issue facing the Oscars today? Audiences have sampled recent Oscar ceremonies and came away unimpressed. Can you blame them? The modern Oscars are dull, sanctimonious and drag on for hours. Who wants to endure that, especially when we’ve never had so many entertainment options before?
- More streaming channels than you can count
Team Oscar can’t accept the new reality. So it shuffles a few show elements hoping to bring audiences back to the fold, angering its core base in the process.
Now, with ABC allegedly vowing to cancel the broadcast entirely if the ratings don’t improve, we’ve entered a new Oscar phase.
Call it the Death Watch. How long will the show be a mainstream event carried on a broadcast channel?