Sunday, March 12, 2023

What The Hell Happened To The Oscars?

Did you even know that the 95th Annual Academy Awards will be handed out tonight in Hollywood? Did you?

Yes, it's Oscar Night -- the biggest night for the movies and what once was an annual ritual that kept much of the nation riveted. 

No kidding! I even remember that as a kid I was able to stay up a bit later to watch at least part of the show to see some of my favorite characters from the movies. Later, I remember my co-workers in the office being drowsy the next day because they all stayed up too late watching the Oscars. People stayed with the seemingly endless program past midnight if need be. The audience was huge. And it wasn't just America. This was a worldwide phenomenon.

Who can forget blockbuster Oscar-winning movies like The Godfather I and II, Rocky, Patton, The Sound of Music, Ben-Hur, The Apartment, Casablanca, Gone With The Wind, The Deer Hunter and so many others. These films are now considered classics. Contrast that with some of the films that have won in recent years: Nomadland, Parasite, The Shape of Water, Bidrman, Crash. Did you see any of these movies? Would you count any of them as a classic? Do you even remember them? 

And it's not just the movies themselves that seem to have gone astray. It's Hollywood, the movie business, the so-called stars (such as the are) and the actual Oscar event. It all out of wack. It all seems to have come undone. What happened? How did this once iconic pillar of pop culture render itself virtually meaningless? Here are some of the answers to that question:

1) The end of the studio system. The studios controlled and maintained a thriving, valuable industry. The studio moguls knew what worked. They knew how to craft an outstanding product; how to market that product; how to create and protect stars and how to nurture the industry. 

2) Greed and Ego. The thirst for money and notoriety drove agents, stars, directors and producers to demand more and more: more power, more influence, more creative control and bigger and bigger pieces of the pie. Over time this weakened the big studios and brought them to their knees. Once all-powerful super agents were able to put together packaged products the studios were no longer needed. But, more often than not, the new players lacked the savvy and goo instincts of the gang that created the movies in the first place.

3) TV and streaming. First it was TV. Then it was cable, the internet and streaming. This saturation of entertainment made it ordinary. You can now find movies (or today's facsimile thereof) instantly in the pam of your hand, on an iPad or on a huge screen in your own private home theater. Too many choices, too available. In a word, devalued. And this has led to the next thing . . .

4) The ordinariness of stardom. Today's "stars" are too common and too ubiquitous. We know too much about them. We see them at home in their undies (or even less) on social media day in and day out. Often we see them at their worst.  And the tabloids never tire of pointing out that "stars are just like us." There's no mystique anymore. It's all maddeningly mundane.

5) And then the final blow: Politics and wokeism. We're tired of the doctrinaire politics and dogmatic wokeism of the motion picture Academy and the whole crowd. We weary of being talked at -- being lectured. We see through the rampant hypocrisy and we find it dismissive and condescending. 

A recent poll found that most people could not even mention more than one, two or three of this year's Oscar nominees. Of course they knew Top Gun, Maverick. Many also knew Elvis and Avatar, The Way of Water. Note that two of these are based on already successful films. Beyond that -- nada. People couldn't name the others. And here's the worst thing: it's a pretty safe bet that one of the films that people couldn't name (and haven't seen) will win tonight.

Is it any wonder the TV audience for tonight's show will likely once again hit a new low? 

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