Let The Oscars Stream! | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Let The Oscars Stream! 

The Oscars are in crisis, supposedly. Ratings fall more and more just about every year, as the Academy continues to nominate movies that haven’t been widely seen by the general public. 

As a result, the producers of the show over the last few years have made a series of gimmicky moves, such as, in last year’s show, taking acting clips out of the broadcast. 

This year, the Oscar producers have announced two new gimmicks, both more radical than they’ve done before: First, they have eliminated eight awards, including all three short-film categories, original score, and production design, off of the live broadcast. Also, they have introduced the “Oscar Fan Favorite” content, in which movie fans can vote on Twitter for their favorite movie which will be acknowledged on the broadcast (although not with an actual Oscar award).

The latter is a way to reward toxic fandom, one very much open to manipulation

Both of these, let’s be clear, are horrendous ideas. The former is an insult to all of the unheralded, hard-working people who work in those categories. The latter is a way to reward toxic fandom, one very much open to manipulation through bots and bad-faith brigading campaigns by fans. And it’s highly, highly unlikely that either will serve to make the Oscar show better or improve ratings in any way. 

All of these changes that have been attempted seem geared towards appealing to people who don’t care about the Oscars, and indicate that the people making the decision don’t really love movies all that much. 

The Ratings Chase 

The biggest problem with all of this is that the Oscars drop in the ratings just about every year, but there’s almost nothing the people running the Oscars can do about it. They can’t force their voting branches to nominate more popular movies, nor can they force moviegoers to watch decorated films like The Power of the Dog and Nomadland. And much of the ratings slide has to do with long-term trends about viewer fragmentation, which seem to be hurting everything on the television with the exception of the NFL. 

There are no easy answers, but I think the answer has one solution: Stop worrying about ratings, and the way to do that is to get the Oscars the hell off of network TV. 

A Streaming Future 

Here’s what should happen: The Oscars should stream. Not just on one streaming service, but on ALL of the streaming services. 

All of the Hollywood studios now either are a streaming service, or they own one. So the studios should all agree to pay the Academy for the right to stream the Oscar telecast. Between Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Paramount+, and Apple TV+, they should all be able to come up with as much, if not more, cash than ABC currently pays to show the Oscars exclusively. For the good of the industry, they should do this. 

Therefore, don’t worry about ratings, or about the length of the show. Let it be four or five hours long. Present every award, including the lifetime achievement awards that were shunted off to a separate ceremony years ago. Samuel L. Jackson is getting one this year ― why in the world is that not part of the main show? Don’t you want to see his speech? 

Have lots of video clip packages, in order to sell nominated films that viewers might not have seen. Play all of the original song nominees. And for heaven’s sake, stop having the orchestra play people off as they give heartfelt speeches! 

And most of all, appeal to cinema lovers, for whom the Oscars should be the biggest event of the year. The Super Bowl broadcast used to be three hours long, now it’s seven. Wrestlemania used to be three hours on one night, now it’s over ten hours over two. Shouldn’t movie lovers want more of the Oscars, too? 

Most of all, appeal to cinema lovers, for whom the Oscars should be the biggest event of the year

Writer Daniel Joyaux came up with an idea in early March to have a two-half Oscar show, with the first half aimed at cinephiles with an indie sensibility, a “halftime show” with the musical numbers, and a second half with big stars and the more-high profile awards. 

That idea has some imperfections, but I’d much prefer it to the Oscars as they currently stand. Maybe multiple broadcasts, a la the Manningcast, where the indie stuff happens on one feed and the red carpet arrivals on another? 

In the end, the people who run the Oscars should market the Oscars to people who love movies and love the Oscars. 

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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