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Oscar has had a hard time gathering his strength over the past few years. Audiences are dropping and campaigns like #OscarSoWhite drew attention to long-standing issues with how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chooses winners. Everyone on Twitter has a burning opinion about the show’s nasty comedic moments and who could have been best host (or should the show even have a host).
This year, people — pop culture buffs and Academy members alike — strong feelings after the Academy announced that Sunday’s eight awards would be presented ahead of the live broadcast. (They will be recorded, edited, and played back during the show.) Others are still upset, or at least embarrassed, by the inclusion of the new “Fans” award. This is a dangerous business, and the words This year’s Oscars producer Will Packer “everyone has an opinion on this damn show.”
Opinions, yes. Intention to actually watch? Maybe not. After peaking in the 1990s when viewership for the Oscars exceeded 50 million, the total number of people who watch the show is steadily declining. Less than 11 million people tuned in last year. Ideally, cutting awards and including a category that people can vote for on twitter is designed to attract the attention of more people and make them watch the show live. As it looks now, it can do just the opposite. Either way, these adjustments are largely unnecessary – this year’s Oscars are likely to be historic anyway.
First, Sunday’s event will be the first Oscars since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to be held at the Dolby Theater. (The 2020 TV broadcast took place right before lockdown began; last year’s ceremony was much more low-key at Union Station in Los Angeles.) Second, there’s the possibility that Lin-Manuel Miranda could get EGOT status if he wins for writing the script. the song “Dos Oruguitas”, featured in the Disney Encanto– the multi-hyphen already has Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards. But finally, and perhaps most importantly, Sunday could be the first time a streaming service wins an Oscar for Best Picture. The two top contenders this year are dog powerwhich Netflix released (and fucking promoted), and CODAthat Apple TV+ released (and also fucking promoted).
Nothing special about the Oscars was ever planned. Did Jennifer Lawrence fall? It was an accident. Bong Joon Ho invites his Oscars for a kiss? It seemed rather out of the ordinary. Moonlightbest film award temporarily going La La Land? It was royal bullshit. People keep an eye on these things, but in the Academy’s attempts to fabricate these moments, the frivolity is lost. This year, experts sayput the Oscars out of their misery” and detailing “all the ways the Oscars screwed upThe academy is doing its best to curry favor. There’s nothing wrong with trying to break the old way of doing things, but in this case the Oscars are trying to make history when it’s already being made.
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