Is It Time to Scrap the Oscars?
The Decline and Fall of the Academy Awards
The Academy Awards, better knows as "The Oscars" is possibly the most popular awards show on TV ever. Yet, there has been a massive decline in the viewership with scandals coming out left, right and centre and a general disinterest in those who live a lifestyle so far away from our own. Is it that we simply just don't care about them anymore?
From the initial red carpet, there has always been talk of who is wearing what and who turns up with who. But, this year in 2020, as I went online to try and begin my 14th year of live tweeting the Oscars on some of my social media pages, I saw that nearly nobody was watching. People had much better things to do and my regular readership of over 2'000 had gone down significantly. I am not going to lie either - I ended up falling asleep at my makeshift desk only twenty minutes into the show. But why did this happen? The answer is simple - we just aren't interested anymore.
Studies have shown that there has been a constant decline in the viewership of the Oscars for years now with 2020 being an all-time low of 23.6 million people. Now, that may seem like a lot - but for Hollywood and the audience they are trying to reach to, it really is a minuscule amount. This was compared to 2019, in which there was a viewership of 29.6 million people (a slight increase from 2018), a larger number but still a small amount for the Hollywood folk. Frankly, these are embarrassing numbers with the awards shows being filled with out of touch rich people who come from riches and buy their way into the industry - and this was only one of the reasons I found that people weren't watching.
I did an anonymous study for myself online. I put out the question on many sites and forums: Why don't you watch the Oscars? I got some really interesting replies and some which simply read "I don't have time..." or "I can't be bothered..." I can understand that if you're like me and live in England, then the Oscars plays overnight and well into the next morning - I am normally up all night watching it - but this year just wasn't the year I did that. It is the first time in almost 18 years that I haven't watched the Oscars and the first time in 14 years that I haven't written about it whilst it was happening.
As someone who remembers the great highlights of the Oscars as being the time when Hugh Jackman burst into song, when they got the Best Picture reading wrong and when the breathtaking Daniel Day-Lewis picked up his third Best Actor Oscar for "Lincoln" (2012) - I am frankly embarrassed at what the Oscars. The main reasons are inclusive of some of the ones I found in my online anonymous study.
I found that these were the reasons people weren't watching the Oscars like they used to:
1. One person cited that they used to watch them because there were great actors like Tom Hanks, Daniel Day-Lewis and others winning the awards. Now, they state, there was nobody there he recognised. It was like the awards were going to the people who could pay the most money for a statue instead of winning for talent. (In my own personal opinion for Best Actor, you cannot compare the raw and unbridled godlike talent of Daniel Day-Lewis to the prosthetic teeth-wearing lip-syncing abomination that came from Rami Malek). The talent, they stated, had really gone down the gutter.
2. Another person stated that the Oscars was now tainted with scandal and so, they don't watch in order to not support this kind of behaviour. I agree with this point because there have been so many different scandals of the past few years that has in 2018-2020, especially, seen a mass decline in the Oscars viewership purely because of the names associated. i.e Harvey Weinstein. The name of the Academy Awards is so often associated with him and, as a film student, I had studied his work on my degree. As Tom Hanks said, his name has become a verb.
3. One person stated the 'over-the-top' and I quote "attention seeking" that the "out of touch celebrities" seem to do. Again, this one stated that it was no longer about the acting and more about a who's who. They also stated that it has become a lot about popularity rather than talent and the actors/actresses that seem to win are the most popular with what is sometimes called the 'trash demographic' (aged 10-18 teenage girls). They also stated, and again I quote, "Hollywood has lost all its talent."
4. One person stated that all the interesting actors had either retired or are no longer acting as much as they used to. (I would like to take the time to over state my man Daniel Day-Lewis once again in my own personal opinion). But yes, I agree with this to an extent. Brad Pitt just won Best Supporting Actor for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" but then again, who was he really up against? Nobody. Also, this is so few and far between that it is a surprise to see such actors of that age still winning awards.
5. And the final one I will mention was that one person stated that the celebrities nowadays are so out of touch that you really lack the will to care about them. From Jennifer Lawrence to Lucy Boynton, these celebrities are celebrities for celebrity sake. They're not very good at their jobs, they're not very watchable or interesting, they all look the same and they think they're far more famous than they actually are. It's sad that Hollywood has resorted to raking in these people instead of seeking out actual talent. The Oscars reflect this by giving these people awards and making their heads even bigger. It has become disinteresting for the reason that its a bunch of out of touch rich people, born rich, getting richer, who know nothing about real life, preaching to us about how we're supposed to live. I think I get the gist of what this person was trying to say.
With viewership down, people telling celebrities to shut up because they don't know anything about real life, people finding these newer celebrities lacking in talent and general disinteresting and bland and even going as far as the Hollywood Scandal Culture - the awards show reflects all of these things and has become something of an abomination in the past five years. So, is it time to scrap the Oscars, or is it time for a makeover?
I found that many people wished for the Oscars to be something different with a wider reach into the films of other cultures. We recently saw "Parasite" win Best Picture and so, with that it's a start but it's not enough. The awards need to reach other cultures and other audiences if it wants to survive because at this rate, it will keep going down until it gets cancelled. Some have even suggested having a shorter show with just the highlights the day after the actual ceremony - which is something that some stations already do. But to cut the ceremony completely would mean that the Hollywood folk don't get as much attention as they so often crave. It is a brilliant idea.
So, if you ask me, then yes, it's time to re-evaluate our stance on what used to be the biggest night in entertainment and has now become a tasteless joke. It is time to reconsider whether, in this day and age, we need the Oscars at all.