Oscars Ratings Down as More Viewers are Left Out

Steven Bishop (11th), Reporter

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The Academy Awards presented by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science recorded its lowest ever live television viewership ratings since its conception. The award show, which aired on March 4th, widely referred to as the Oscars is the marquee event for motion picture achievements and is treated as the most prestigious award to recieve in the film industry.

The Oscars are a celebration of film excellence but are beginning to lose relevance towards audiences which in turn is causing them to not watch the festivities. This may be due to the poor pacing of the award show, the perception that the award show is becoming a political platform, or the result of anger over films that were not nominated that many feel should have been over those that were were not well known and did not have public support.

The Oscars at times can be unbearable in the way they are presented. The program is bogged down with its nearly four and a half hour run time which is nearly twice as long as the films it is awarding. The awards themselves are also spaced poorly. The Academy backloads the “Big Five” which is comprised of Best Director, Best Screenplay (either original or adapted), Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Picture as a means of forcing viewers to stay tuned in for the whole broadcast. This makes the pacing of the Oscars slow and dull for nearly three hours until the interesting and exciting awards are handed out.

The Academy would achieve better pacing by spacing out the awards to keep the viewer enthralled without losing their attention waiting for something major to happen. This would provide the necessary build up to the reveal of Best Picture while also not losing viewers along the way. There are other issues that the Oscars had to deal with this year though.

It is not a secret that Hollywood is embroiled in the middle of a transition from misogynist roots to a more inclusive entity. The ousting of movie executive Harvey Weinstein was just the beginning of the storm of change that blew away well known figures from movie making. Casey Affleck (winner of last year’s Best Actor award), Kevin Spacey, and James Franco are only the beginning of the list of men who are accused of sexual harassment and assault that are major figures in Hollywood.

As a result of the numerous allegations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to not mention the abuse during major public gatherings such as the Oscars or the Golden Globe award shows. The issue that connects this problem with the decline in viewers is that people who wished to watch the awards may have believed that they would be lectured to by the celebrities who attended.

It has become “politically charged” says Dane Anderson, a junior at Pitman. The Oscars are a television program that is designed to be enjoyable to watch but that indulgence can easily be ceased when a viewer finds distaste with the subject matter being presented or at sometimes forced upon them without warning.

With that said, the accessibility of movies is becoming an issue as well.

The movies have become less important since the rise of streaming services that provide the same type of entertainment with less expense and hassle. A Netflix subscription practically pays for itself after the second movie watched in a single month. All a person has to do now is wait for the films that were nominated to be released on a streaming service so they can watch them without the expense of a theater or the risk of it being spoiled by an unruly audience member.

“No one cared about the movies” was a visible sentiment that Diana Barajas, an eleventh grader at Pitman High, expressed. It would be a hard task to name every movie nominated for Best Picture this recent award season mainly because they were not as accessible as they should have been.

The movies that are nominated for Best Picture are also at times hard to find in local theaters because they either are not shown or the span of time in which they are provided is so limited that it is nearly impossible to attend their viewing times. “Phantom Thread” did not have a wide release just as “Call Me By Your Name” did not. I missed their times at local theaters and had to go Sacramento to watch them.

This problem leads directly into another: what films should be selected to fill the nominations for each category? Since a large part of the viewing population does not have the time or the means to watch nominated movies, they are sad to find that what they truly enjoyed as filmgoers was not represented. “Wonder Woman” was completely snubbed from Best Picture and Best Director. There were nine slots for Best Picture this year when there are normally ten. So why was “Wonder Woman” left out? There was plenty of room. The Academy does not represent the movie industry as a whole when it would most definitely benefit if it would. It has a long history of ignoring movies that are considered amazing by fans and critics alike for no good reason except that they are not made by filmmakers the Academy adores.”The Dark Knight”, “The Big Lebowski”, “The Shining”, and “Heat” are only a small portion of films that were ignored by the Academy and show that it is difficult for genre films to be nominated for Best Picture.

Something needs to change for the Oscars if they want to be considered must watch television. Either the production of the actual event needs to change, the image of Hollywood needs to improve quickly, or a better and more inclusive selection of nominees needs to take place to even the landscape for the awards. The frightening part of this situation is that is it likely all three that need alter for the Oscars to become popular again and it is unlikely that any actually will.

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