Oscar is in need of a facelift.
In the early years, the Academy Awards were presented at an industry luncheon or dinner, much like The Hollywood Foreign Press’ Golden Globe Awards are today. The Academy Awards were an intimate, “inside the business” affair. This exclusivity added to their allure.
Once televised, a public audience had an opportunity to peek behind the curtain at their favorite performers, to feel a vicarious part of the glamour that was Hollywood. That glamour became part of the American Character, a story we wrote about ourselves that the whole world wanted to share.
The proceedings lose cache when they become, as they have, so undignified and pedestrian that even major players stay away unless they are nominees, presenters or simply have a business need (e.g., an upcoming film to promote.) A measure of dignity allows for a measure of irreverent comedy.
The show is no longer entertaining or witty and it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s a big yawn. You can’t blame just the host or hosts, the writers or any of the individual components of the Academy Awards broadcast. The whole concept needs to be redeveloped or it risks further erosion in attendance from the majority of the star-power players upon whom it relies to draw audiences.
Fortunately, Oscar is a handsome, iconic trophy. That is part of what has increased the lifespan of a broadcast that has long since outlived its entertainment value.
The Red Carpet antics are entertaining and thank goodness, there is still some real glamour to be seen there, however commercialized. Maybe even a bit more commercialization can be added here, outside the scope of the program, by describing the contents of the audience’s gift or “swag” bags.
Watching the Academy Awards broadcast is now as phony an “insider,” or “peeking through the fence” experience as is watching a so-called “reality show” and believing that it bears any resemblance to reality. “Reality” shows are just a way to skunk professional actors out of work and fair pay.
Changes have been made to Academy voting procedures in the past few years and among other components, ten nominees for Best Picture of the Year are too many movies. The music awards require an upgrade. For this year’s (2012) show there were but two Best Song nominees, a sparse and sad offering for an art that offers so much more to the life of a film. Additionally, when a film has utilized existing music as the basis of its score, it ought not be included a category entitled Best Original (Anything.)
As a non-entertainment business professional, I’ll refrain from offering additional or specific suggestions on how to reconceive this program we love to love in spite of itself. Surely will and interest exists to attempt it.