I have a challenge for the Academy Awards that I, despite my antagonistic relationship, will always love deep down. I hope this isn’t too much to ask, but for the sake of your purpose of existence, please, stop hating movies.
It sounds unusual for the highest body of awarding film achievement to hate movies. To put a more specific point on it, the Oscars have fed into the deep rooted cynicism of the film industry that has transpired over the last few years. Nothing was more dire than the display put on by the Academy last March. As I stated in a previous blog, they are so lucky that Will Smith was insecure about his marriage, because they would’ve had their reckoning if not for G.I. Jane 2.
There is a ratings crisis for the Oscars. Surprising, I know, for a network TV broadcast in 2022. Viewership dropped from 43.7 million in 2014 to 15.36 this year, with the only increase coming from 2018 to 2019 (not counting this year’s jump from the fake telecast in 2021 that doesn’t exist). At the most recent 94th Academy Awards, they decided to be more proactive in dealing with this issue than ever before: by going populist.
What these morons didn’t realize was that the fight for ratings was and will forever be a lost cause. The days of 48 million people watching anything non-NFL on basic television are over. No matter what you do, whether it’s a fan vote or cutting out below the line categories on the telecast, you will never regain anything close to the viewership of 48 million that they received in 1998. So naturally, the best course of action would be to placate to the more niche audience that cares deeply about movies. You know, the freaks like me that can name the Best Supporting Actor winner in 1991 quicker than their middle name. (The answer is of course Jack Palance in City Slickers. If we’re being dumb and looking at the calendar year, then it would be Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.)
What the grand and prestigious Academy Awards gave us cinephiles instead was the Twitter fan favorite vote, where the public at large can pick their favorite movie and the finest “cheer” moment on screen. If I had a kid that thought of this idea, I’d put him up for adoption. I know this joke ran into the ground when first announced, but when did the Oscars begin idolizing the MTV Movie Awards? A longtime Academy member stated to the Los Angeles Times “Does the academy not get how much this pisses off their members and filmmakers?” With this asinine fan vote, their line of thinking consists of the rabid DCEU fan base all turning on their TVs to witness a mediocre movie they already like win a meaningless award. Yep, that’s how it turned out. Congratulations folks, you fixed it.
Their second measure to fix the ratings crisis was, once again at the alienation of their core audience, cutting the acceptance of numerous technical categories such as Best Original Score and Best Editing from the broadcast. I’m sorry I don’t have hard proof or scientific data to back this up, but there is no human being that was going to watch the full Oscars telecast because they cut out a few categories. This audience that the Academy is desperate to obtain is not the girl you try to pick up at a bar. You know who that girl is though? Me! So start putting some goddamn respect into films and the craft that goes behind it. I personally think it’s pretty neat that there used to be a major awards body that gave an equal stage to a costume designer and Julia Roberts. The 48 million viewers had to have been tolerating them in 1998, which makes sense because we all simply had better taste back then. It’s a shame I missed it. I get handed clips of the fucking Flash from Justice League for my Oscars.
It doesn’t help that movies are made a mockery of during the telecast. If it were up to me, there would be no bits or heavily rehearsed material at the show. If the host or presenter isn’t charming and charismatic enough to take the stage without it, then keep looking for another host or presenter. But anyways, I get that they need jokes, and I’m not here looking for anyone to be policed, but the Oscars ought to have a little respect for what they represent. Take for example this abhorrent joke about The Last Duel that, as I mentioned in a previous blog, still pisses me off.
Johnny Carson used to host this show.
Ridley Scott’s film is excellent. Not only that, it’s an adult picture with adult themes and ideas. They look like complete jackasses by turning a movie that should be honored by them into a bit. Really? You guys are so low that you poke fun at a movie that bombed at the box office? A movie that bombed because it wasn’t a blue lasers/portals in the sky piece of garbage? Do you possess any self-awareness? This truly was the nadir of their weird vitriol towards cinema. If anything, the joke is on the public for ignoring The Last Duel.
You might be saying, “how do you suppose that the Academy Awards doesn’t respect cinema? Did you not see those montages and reunions this year?” I sure did, and I’ve seen enough of the barrage of clips over the past few years. Someone across the street from me could do the same thing on their computer. Peak laziness from this past broadcast came from the Godfather and Pulp Fiction “reunions”, which were as much of a reunion as running into the person you sat next to in chemistry class in sophomore year on the street. Drag out Coppola, Pacino, and De Niro (who, in case you weren’t sure, IS NOT IN THE FIRST GODFATHER THAT IS BEING CELEBRATED FOR ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY. BE MORE GODDAMN LAZY!), and have them say absolute drivel. The Pulp Fiction was somehow even more contrived. At least The Godfather was its 50th anniversary. Come back in two years when Pulp is at year 30. This is really the best the premiere awards body of the country can muster up to honor the art of cinema? The same creators who created the thing you like are standing together again! It’s like every shitty Super Bowl commercial now.
Academy voters did the right thing by not buying into any disillusions about Marvel being the westerns of our time or some bullshit like that and giving Spider-Man: No Way Home a Best Picture nomination. That movie and all its counterparts in the Disney empire is a disgrace to cinema. The Academy is under no obligation to nominate No Way Home because it was the most seen movie. It’s a grave discredit to popular movies that are good. You know what happens when you make a good movie that makes tons of money? Dune, Black Panther, Get Out, and Mad Max: Fury Road got to find out. You get a Best Picture nominee. This goes out to every reader who has this myth jammed into their brain: popular movies have always been acknowledged at the Oscars! It happens slightly less often nowadays because most popular movies are pitiful franchise content. It’s not them, it’s you, Marvel. You’re the ones that suck.
This is a long way of saying that the Academy needs to stop dumbing themselves down for a culture with deteriorating creative output. Needless to say, this year’s telecast had jokes mocking themselves for not nominating No Way Home, including Amy Schumer hanging from the ceiling in a Spider-Man outfit, frankly looking like an idiot. The whole awards body seemed embarrassed at themselves for not properly acknowledging the movie. I know I said that popular movies are routinely honored, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Oscars should not be a popularity contest. The discourse surrounding the entitlement of No Way Home as a BP nominee from fans online is part of a worsening case of juvenile anti-intellectualism in our popular culture. Even Kevin Feige, the head honcho of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, called out the Academy for a “superhero bias”. This would be like the President of McDonald’s and its team of lackeys getting upset that McDonald’s has never won the restaurant equivalent of an Oscar.
If the Academy Awards are going to continue to lower their standards like this, then shut it down, because we’ve lost all perspective.