After a Disastrous Oscars this Year, Are the Oscars Headed Down the Wrong Path?


Photo from Budiey

John Smith, Contributor

This year’s Oscars have proven to be the worst Oscars yet. It seems like just yesterday when the show was something to look forward to. Recently, it seems like the award show is struggling to bring in an audience. In 2010, the viewership was at its best at 41.3 million viewers. The most recent Academy Awards achieved less than 50 percent of that, at an embarrassing 17.7 million. However, the ratings did see an increase from last year’s “virtual” Academy Awards. The show was uneventful, until the unexpected altercation between Chris Rock and Will Smith. 

Social media had blown up and was buzzing about the confrontation that happened at the Oscars. For reference, the situation between the two stars happened when Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith’s bald wife in “GI Jane 2” (the main character of the movie has a shaved head). Will Smith first laughed at the joke, but saw that his wife was in dismay. Smith decided then that the best course of action was to walk up on stage in front of 17.7 million viewers and assault Chris Rock by smacking him in the face. Rock was very professional with the entire ordeal by de-escalating the situation even though he was shocked about what happened. Will Smith then decided to ruin the entire night by screaming profanity at Rock during the broadcast. There is no doubt that this terrible event that broke out on stage is what helped viewership, and helped the struggling award show by gaining more publicity.

Other than the highly publicized slap, the show was bland overall. The show felt like life was sucked out of it after what had previously happened. The jokes fell flat, and were reused. Comedian Amy Schumer had recently been exposed for making a seat filler joke about one of the nominees which was previously done by host Neil Patrick Harris in 2015. Aside from the stolen joke, all three hosts were not very good and attributed to the bad rating of the Oscars. The hosts of the Oscars were Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall. Overall the jokes that were made were not that funny and too political for an award show. The award shows have tied in too much politics and it has become uncomfortable and alienates viewers. One example of the disconnection between the stars and viewers is the movie stars receiving goodie bags that cost upwards of $100,000. Also, the disconnected movie stars think that they turn their acceptance speech into a politically driven rant about the United States.

With all of this happening at the beginning, it would’ve been my last thought to think that Will Smith would win an award after what he had done. Smith had won one of the most prestigious awards the academy can give and had fierce competition. There is no doubt his performance in “King Richard” was great, but receiving an award after breaking academy conduct is not right. He was asked to leave by the academy president during a commercial break and refused. When he won, Smith received a standing ovation on the same night he committed an assault on live television. It seemed as if almost everyone had already forgotten about what happened earlier and saw Will Smith as a victim of Chris Rock’s joke. The speech felt uneasy for me, as he tried to justify why he smacked Rock by comparing himself to the character from his movie. It also felt odd that he apologized to everyone except the person he assaulted. From this alone, I felt like the direction of the awards as a whole is not in the right direction. 

The Oscars are sending themselves down a path of no return for viewership. Like I said earlier, they are alienating many viewers, and the increasing “wokeness” and moral authority that is currently seen in Hollywood has been increasing exponentially. To make matters worse, the new requirements hinder many possibly great films from being the best picture. The new requirements entail that there is at least one disabled, one LGBTQ, and one minority character. In my opinion, there shouldn’t be requirements like this for movies to win the best picture. 

This most recent Academy Awards has shown that the health of the show is deteriorating and that no one really cares anymore about millionaires patting other millionaires on the back. It could be possible that within the next decade we see the show get even worse ratings, or possibly the cancellation of the broadcast due to lack of public interest. Some viewers of regular television shows have more views than the Oscars. People used to look forward to the ceremonies and have an exciting night with laughter and fun, but now it seems like a political rally. Personally, I don’t like the politics of either side in movies. Movies are made for entertainment and depict the human condition. The ceremony is a time to celebrate what films have achieved.