Opinion: It’s time for The Oscars to go

The yearly tradition of the Oscars has returned and with it the debate of if it is worth it or not. After the show has finished and the awards handed out, it is fair to say that it is not worth the three hour and forty-minute hassle. 

Before that is addressed, it is important to review the winners. Key winners are:

Best Picture:

CODA – Directed by Sian Heder. Available on Apple TV+.

Best Director:

The Power of the Dog – Directed by Jane Campion. Available on Netflix.

Best Actor:

Will Smith for his performance in King Richard. Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+ and others. 

Best Actress:

Jessica Chastain for her performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Available on Disney+.

Best Supporting Actor:

Troy Kotsur for his performance in CODA. Available on Apple TV+.

Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose for her performance in West Side Story. Available on Disney+.

Best Visual Effects:

Dune – Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Available to rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV+.

Fan Favourite 2021 Film: 

Army of the Dead – Directed by Zack Snyder. Available on Netflix.

Fan Favourite Movie Moment:

The Flash enters the Speed force – From Zack Synder’s Justice League. Available on Sky Cinema Pass. 

However, there was a bigger shock to the night than CODA winning, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. Before being presented with his award for best actor, Will Smith assaulted comedian Chris Rock live on stage.

Rock had just prior made a poor joke about Smith’s wife – Jada Pinkett Smith, mocking her hair loss. Smith’s wife has alopecia, an auto-immune disorder that causes hair loss. Neither the joke or the slap were appropriate for the situation and has only served to harm the credibility of both.

The fact that Smith has so far faced minimal repercussions for his actions only serves to highlight how insulated these celebrities are from reality.

The Academy’s credibility has also been damaged, only amplifying the voices of its critics. But this is just one of many reasons why the Academy is floundering, as is explored below. 

The controversy

Image credit: Pixabay

The Oscars have been plagued with controversy since its creation in 1929, with both the Academy getting it wrong and the stars involved. In 2019, Kevin Hart was supposed to host the show, before being forced off for anti-gay tweets.

In 2014, John Travolta butchered Idina Menzel’s name, introducing her as “Adele Dazeem”. Also, who could forget the 2017 mix up between La La Land and Moonlight? Finally, in a desperate attempt to revitalise public interest in 2022, the Academy cut eight awards to reduce the overall show time, though promoting backlash for devaluing the achievements of those winners. 

All of these shows the unprofessionalism involved, turning viewers away from the event. 

The Films 

Oscar winning and nominated films are highly critically acclaimed, garnering much praise for every aspect of their craft. Except, critically acclaimed doesn’t mean popular. Many of the nominated and winning films do poorly at the box office, indicating that few people even watch them.

For example, despite its box office and critical success, Spiderman No Way Home was not swinging in to pick up Best Picture. To try and rectify this, the Academy introduced the conciliatory Fan Favourite Award and the fan favourite movie moment.

This only further highlights the disconnect between the Academy and mainstream audiences. It is just blatant pandering.

The system for deciding the winner is terrible. Instead of the Academy deciding the awards, Twitter polls were the method of choice for this section. Rather hilariously, this left it open for the militant fanbase of Zack Snyder to influence the result of the vote. 

Another issue with the films is the lack of representation. In 2015, April Reign rightfully pointed out the lack of diversity within the Oscars, starting the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. This caught traction extremely quickly, with boycotts of the Awards announced. The voting body of the Academy is thought to be around 84% White and 68%, contributing to the poor representation.

It does seem like the Oscars have sought to improve this, with the 2019 Oscars seeing a record number of winners of colour. 2022’s winner reminds us however that representation can come from other places, such as the inclusion of those with disabilities.

In a historic moment, the deaf applause was done on several occasions to recognise winners like Troy Kotsur. Winners such as Ariana DeBose also made history by being the first Afro-Latina winner. However, both moments and CODA’s win in general will forever be overshadowed by the slapping controversy, undermining them. 

The bottom line

Image credit: Pixabay

The continued controversy and the disconnect shown in the film selection all feed into one key statistic. The viewership. And, unfortunately for the Academy, it has been dropping.

Since 2015, viewing numbers for the Oscars have consistently declined, with the one exception being 2019. COVID-19 only served to accelerate this trend, with 2021 seeing the Academy Awards with their lowest ever viewing numbers. 2022’s affair improves greatly on that figure, but it still is the second lowest number in Academy history.

There is no urgency to watch the still over three hours show full of self-congratulation, films that hardly anyone watches and a marathon’s worth of controversy.

If the Oscars hopes to survive in its current format, serious and lengthy reform must be undertaken. Otherwise, it is time for the Oscars to end.

By Kieran Burt

Feature image: ABC

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