Are the Oscars actually waking up to reality?

Earlier today I looked at the generally horrible attitude of the glitterati in Hollywood and why they produce so many awful films. But I don’t want to give the impression that all the news is bad. Is it just possible that some of the Hollywood power brokers, particularly those involved in the Oscars, are waking up and smelling the double cream half-caf latte?

It turns out that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been reading at least some of the writing on the wall. Last night they announced changes to the Oscars, leaving many members fuming but apparently recognizing that their award ceremony has become an unpopular dinosaur in danger of extinction. They’re adding the “popular film” (or Blockbuster) category we discussed this morning, but that’s not all. (Washington Post)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday a few changes to future Oscars telecasts: The televised ceremony will be limited to three hours; the 2020 ceremony will be bumped up two weeks to Feb. 9; and, to the disdain of many, a new category will recognize achievement in popular film.

“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in an email sent to Academy members. “The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.”

The changes were determined in a meeting held Tuesday night, where the board also reelected Bailey.

Several Academy members and film critics were despondent over the changes. Richard Lawson, film critic for Vanity Fair, reminded everyone that they’ve already tried a blockbuster category (they did?) and “it didn’t work.” David Sims from The Atlantic called the choices “an embarrassing disaster,” going on to lament the cutting of the technical awards.

I agree that it’s kind of a shame that they won’t be televising the technical awards. There are a lot of people who toil in anonymity in those fields to make movies what they are today. But at the same time, I rather doubt that the technical awards are what the majority of the people most likely to watch these gaudy spectacles are tuning in for. And in reality, millions of people working in technical trades across all industries bust their butts every year without getting a statue on national television.

Reducing the length of the broadcast to three hours might help a little. The whole thing is far too long and tedious. But they might do better by starting it a little earlier. Not everyone lives on the west coast and some of us viewers of, er… a certain age, go to bed by ten o’clock. Even if I was interested in watching the Oscars I wouldn’t stay up late enough to see the really big awards at the end.

Among all the changes they’re implementing, there was one glaring omission. You know what they didn’t mention? The politics. Are these people truly so out of touch with reality as to think the constant bashing of conservative values and GOP officials and policies isn’t immediately turning off half of their potential audience, leading to the disastrous decline in their ratings? (The last Oscars drew the lowest ratings in the event’s history.) Well, go back and read my piece from earlier today that I linked above. Yes… they probably are that oblivious. They still honestly seem to think that nearly everyone agrees with them and it’s only a few freaks in flyover country who would be rude and crude enough to argue.

Will these changes alter the fortunes of the Oscars for the better? I wouldn’t bet my breakfast on it.

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David Strom 8:31 PM on November 29, 2022