Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards this past weekend, but I don’t want to talk about that.
I’m a rare movie fan who actually loves the Oscars. I know that they’re silly, meaningless, self-important and rarely award actual excellence in cinema. But I still look forward to the show every year. Why? Because I love movies. When else do you get a three-hour block of primetime television completely dedicated to people talking about how great movies are? It’s fun!
But every year, as the show approaches, think pieces abound asking how the Oscars can stay relevant. Then, when the show airs, we see their desperate attempts. This year, it was shoehorned in pointless internet-poll categories (which were spammed by toxic Snyderverse fans), a distracting dance number during the In Memoriam segment and plenty of hacky scripted comedy bits that were far beneath the talents of the three (!) hosts performing them.
Some version of this happens every time. The retooled bits are never as funny, moving or memorable as the actual moments surrounding the awards. But for some reason, the handwringing continues. “How can we make this show relevant to the people who complain that they haven’t heard of any of these movies? How can we create viral moments that resonate with the general public who don’t care about movies?”
Here’s a wild idea: maybe the Oscars shouldn’t be for people who don’t care about movies. Maybe the target audience for an event about movies should be movie fans. If the Academy is so concerned about roping in snarky Twitter audiences, they’ll come regardless. There will always be some envelope mixup or streaker or physical altercation every few years, and whatever gross discourse crops up around it will happen naturally.
But there’s no need to court it. Next year, all I want is an Oscars that’s actually about movies.
Published in Volume 76, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 31, 2022)