In recognizing the best in cinema last year the Academy is looking more like a bomb
(Be sure to log in to the front page Sunday evening for the irrevrent and snark-filled liveblog of the Oscars telecast.)
This past weekend, as part of the pre-show hype, the producers of the Academy Awards telecast released some promotional stills of the stage design that will be seen this Sunday. Swarovski touted the new set, designed by David Korins, for the 91st Oscars ceremony.
While I’m sure they were impressed with their own opulence, and the sprawling appearance within the Dolby Theater, I have a question. Considering the political animosity in Hollywood for the current occupant of the White House, and the assured speeches to follow on Sunday evening opposing this administration, who thought it a good idea to have celebrities speaking from a stage made to resemble Donald Trump’s hair?!???
This design faux pas becomes added to the list of foibles and fumbles seen from the Academy since last year’s telecast. Faced with record low ratings over the past few years the producers of the Oscars have been desperate to stop the bleeding and draw back the millions of lost audience members. That desperation has led to a series of problems leading up to this weekend’s extravaganza.
In a bid to attract a wider and probably younger audience, last year the decision was made to create a new category for movies. The new designation was to be Best Popular film, and it took no time for a backlash to rear up. Most thought “most popular” was something already being measured by standard means — that is via box office returns.
The issue was that a few years ago the Academy expanded the possible Best picture nominees to ten films. Now if they added to the “Best” with another five, or ten titles you were truly diluting the affair. Plus, would a film losing Best Picture be deemed less than the Best Popular? If Best Popular was thought of as a lesser category then how important was the designation? By September the Academy saw the folly, and it eliminated this experimental award before it was ever handed out.
Another attempt at making things more audience friendly was the announcement that a number of the lower-rung and technical awards would be awarded during commercial breaks. This would help shorten the ceremony, and make these less popular trophy presentations less tedious for viewers. There was blowback once again from the film community — and the Academy, once again, changed its course and it reinstalled these presentations into Sunday’s show.
Yet another sign of wanting to cling to its shrinking audience was the attempt to make the honor of Oscar presenter exclusive. The Screen Actors Guild recently came out with the accusation that the Academy had put word out that anyone who presented at another awards show would excluded from being eligible to do so at the Oscars. This was an obvious ploy to lock in the top flight, A-list actors and make their appearance more “special”.
Of course, this springs off of the other problem encountered earlier last Fall, and that was the controversy surrounding the hosting duties. The producers had a tough time finding a host, announcing far later than usual that Kevin Hart had been tabbed with the honor. In less than a day social activists rose up in full throat opposition. Hart, it turned out, had told some possibly off-color or offensive jokes years back. This is unforgivable in this day of perpetual offensiveness.
Hart resisted the hordes, but the Academy got squeamish and gave the actor/comedian an ultimatum; he needed to apologize if he wanted to keep the gig. Hart elected to instead walk away from the hosting duties. This left the producers scrambling, and with such a short deadline they elected to simply make the announcement that this year there would be no official host.
At least this way they can be assured the host will not say anything controversial. Of course, the celebrities who feel as if it is their sworn duty to maximize the global-sized captive audience at their disposal will not be able to resist such a temptation. These luminaries will be spouting off their ignorance, since they regard red carpets and the awards podium as their personal soapboxes.
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