The Academy Is A Teenager In The Body Of An Old Lady
You’ve probably heard the news. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has postponed the introduction of the new „popular“ film category at the 91st Academy Awards.
In a statement, the board of Governors has said that it will continue to discuss the idea for the new award and “will examine and seek additional input regarding the new category, and because it also cause challenges for the movies that have already been introduced (by now) to the audience“.
The new award was seen as a way to guarantee that blockbuster movies, like the Marvel, Star Wars and DC Universe films, as well as surprise hits like A Quiet Place and Crazy Rich Asians, would be assured of air time on the broadcast.
However, despite the good intentions from the Academy’s CEO Dawn Hudson, it just goes to show that not all changes are for the better. Why? because they’re focusing on solving of the problems that the film industry is facing right now, with tackling the wrong issues. Yes, ticket sales are plummeting at a record low wright now, and the Oscar ceremony’s rating is right there with them. But should be focusing on the popularity of the movies? I think not.
The Academy should be pushing on more diversity in race, ethnicity, and gender (among the Academy members and filmmakers) and of course pay equality should be on the Academy’s priority’s list too. Not popularity. In essence, The Academy is 91 years old. She’s a senior citizen by all accounts, but by introducing this popularity category she’s acting like she’s a 15 year old teenager. Basically she’s acting like Regina George in Mean Girls. In era where you can basically find excellent and quality product pretty much everywhere in the industry (especially in the new Golden age of TV that’s happening right now), why would you settle for popular?
And what does that even mean? Most popular? Does the requirements for the Best popular movie category are based on the social media trending? The media buzz? The Box office sales? Or something else? I hate to remind you that all of the mentioned requirements can be bought too, and in different manners. No, not just by lobbying, not just by some pushy studio executives, but from pretty much everyone involved in that movie. And I do mean everyone.
And who gets to decide which movie is more popular than the next? The audience, the Academy members or a third party? It’s well documented that not all of the popular movies are quite good or even award worthy. Adam Sandler, Michael Bay and Tyler Perry can make box office successes, but cannot for the life of me make decent movies. And, yes as much as I’d hate to admit, there will always be an audience for those type of movies, which means they’ll always be popular. But does that mean they deserve to be in a most popular Oscar category? I think not.
But, let’s look things on the other side. Let’s look at the career of one of the best filmmakers in Hollywood and probably one of my favorite directors. Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s had 8 Oscar nominations so far (and no win), and he’s widely regarded as one of the most talented auteurs of his generation. But half of his movies (8 feature films so far) underperformed at the box office. Does that mean that Marvel/DC movie deserves an Oscar better than Paul Thomas Anderson? No, I think not.
And in the end, I’ve mentioned briefly the failing ratings of the Oscar ceremony. This year’s Oscar ceremony had an all-time low numbers in ratings (with 26.5 Million Viewers according to HR) and it showed. Some blamed the long runtime, some blamed the politically churched jokes but this year’s low ratings are not just because of that. It’s because of years and years of brining politics where it shouldn’t have been. I remember back when people watched the Oscar to get away from politics.
And to forget about the loony president that was in charge. And to forget about war. And poverty. When the Oscars did became so politically charged that it made people sick to be watching them? I know I am, but at the same time I own a film blog, so I kinda have to be watching them. I’m obligated. But millions and millions have given up, and it shows year after year. It’s not Jimmy Kimmel’s fault per se. It’s the environment that the world is right now. And in that environment, I’m a little bit of nostalgic for Billy Krystal. He sang, he danced and he made the world forget about the problems for about 3 hours every year.
He, like the Academy, and the Oscar ceremony knew that was good. And popular I might add.