How many of you haven’t watched at least one annual Academy Award ceremony?

I remember as a kid staying up half the night watching them to see who would win. The lights, the glitz, and the glamour were enough to get most kids hooked, I was no exception. The fact that The Oscars are the biggest event on the annual film festival calendar, and anyone who is anyone is in attendance, makes them the must watch event of the year.

Well, at least that was until recently. This event is famed for attracting some of the biggest TV audiences ever. At one point, it was estimated that over 1 billion people, either tuned in or closely followed the ceremony. That’s 1 out of 7 people on our planet!

Sadly, things are not going that well for Oscar these days. The BBC reported that the 2018 Academy Awards’ viewing figures were 39% down on 2014’s. That’s a huge amount.

Rumors are rife that the organizers of the Academy awards are at a loss about what to do. The Oscars are the premiere event of the film industry and they want to keep it that way. After all, they get paid to do just that, and who wants to become known as the person who oversaw the decline of the biggest film event ever?

What’s Next For The Oscars?

A recent BBC article entitled “Oscars postpone plans for new popular film category” highlights just how desperate things have become.

For those of you not familiar with this story, the organizers of the event came up with the novel idea of adding a new award to the event.  This new award would be called the “Popular Film Category” and would have recognized films popular with audiences and not critics.

Sound sickening? That’s because it is. This new award is an obvious attempt to beef up viewer ratings by rewarding the films that scored well with the masses. Since many Oscar viewers haven’t seen many of the more critically acclaimed nominee films, this award gives these viewers the chance to cheer and clap for films that they have.

The chance of seeing Fast and Furious 10 being awarded an Oscar is quite sickening. While we recognize the value of these films as entertainment, they should only be rewarded on artistic merriment alone. If you want to make a commercially viable film and fill it with daft CGI, then go ahead – just don’t expect and Oscar for it.

Controversy, Controversy, Controversy

Perhaps the organizers are not serious at all about this award, though unfortunately it seems they are. The Academy Awards have been the center of many controversies before. In the old days, it used to resolve around individuals, who having won an award, decided to use it as a platform for protest.

After winning the Best Actor award, Marlon Brando famously sent a Native American woman up to receive the prize. In more recent years, however, the controversy has jumped to what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood.

No one issue caused more of an uproar than the accusations of sexual harassment, abuse, and even rape by movie insiders.

The Harvey Weinstein affair and the resulting MeToo movement which has so far exposed hundreds of film industry insiders, including Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and many more, has left many questioning how much the academy knew and ignored.

Even our current president, Donald Trump has been accused of multiple affairs and has even been recoded suggesting that he can molest any woman he likes because he is famous.

I recently wrote an article reporting on how Trump has recently had his Hollywood Walk of Fame star removed.

CEO Leron Gubler commented that “Having a ‘star’ on the Walk of Fame is a privilege that is highly sought after by those in the entertainment industry, allowing Mr. Trump to continue to have a star in light of his behavior toward women, particularly in the #timesup and #metoo movements, should not be acceptable in the Hollywood and entertainment industry communities.”

Will They Or Won’t They?

In a statement this week, Academy CEO said that she “recognized the need for further discussion” with members before continuing with the plan. The new popular film award was due to be introduced at the 91st Academy Awards which was due to take place in February 2019.

“The Academy recognized that implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released,” it said in statement.

The challenge lies in the fact that this new award would affectively split the Best Picture award. The biggest concern is that films, which might have qualified for the more prestigious Best Film award, will now be bungled into the popular category.

While, in my opinion, this might make the best film category richer by allowing smaller and more artistic films to enter, it would also annoy the producers of films like the mediocre Dunkirk. Since films stand to make so much more in sales should they win an Oscar, the filmmakers and the companies behind them lobby hard for the win.

This new award will upset the status quo, and though giving crummy films like Avatar the chance to take home gold, it would lower the reputation of the Oscars and take it one step closer to being an entertainment show rather than a prestigious award for artistry in film.

Let’s hope the organizers see sense rather than just dollars.


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