BRAUN: The Oscars, bad TV


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Why is the Oscars broadcast so boring?

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The Oscars are undoubtedly very important for honored actors and filmmakers, but the TV audience for this annual draw is shrinking.

Believe it or not, there was a time when watching the Oscars was a big deal. People had viewing parties, entered office pools to try and pick the winners, and were really looking forward to watching.

Film critics wrote feverish reports in advance of who should win and why. It was serious business.

Things change.

The pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the industry. Cinemas closed, movie releases were postponed, people got used to watching movies at home. Kind of.

It quickly became apparent that sitting in the dark with others to feel the power of storytelling, while eating popcorn, is not an experience you can replicate in your living room.

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The narration has also changed. Hollywood’s move toward all blockbusters, all the time has deprived audiences of other kinds of movies and fostered the alienation of any viewer who is not a young man between the ages of 18 and 35.

This limits the pool Oscar draws from. Not to say that the Oscar lineup for this year is weak, but some of the favorite movies aren’t that great.

(The power of the dog, for example: overworked and overrated. And sSome would say there were a lot of actors, to paraphrase entertainment writer Bob Thompson.)

Power of the Dog.  netflix
Power of the Dog. netflix

The storytellers have also changed. A big part of what people love watching the Oscars is all the smoke and mirrors around Hollywood “movie stars.”

They still exist, but social media, YouTube, and reality TV have blurred the line between stars and mere mortals, and we would have been just as happy to maintain that illusion.

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TikTok celebrities and Instagram influencers on the Oscars red carpet kind of waters down the whole business.

Either way, it’s all happening next Sunday, March 27, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

For this year, there was a move from no host to three hosts: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. Will their material be softened to suit Central America?

It’s a buzzkill and that’s what usually happens. The show really needs a host who is allowed to confuse egos, bad fashion, and all the sleazy elements of any selfish production; you need a Ricky Gervais or a Don Rickles.

You still get Bob Hope.

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The big issue with this year’s broadcast is the decision to leave eight awards out of general release.

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As Variety reportedrewards for original music, makeup and hair, documentary short, film editing, production design, animated short, live action short and sound are awarded before the start of the spectacle.

These elements will then be edited and reintegrated into the show during the broadcast.

It is assumed that the idea is to shorten a show that usually seems to last 12 hours. To that end, perhaps the winners could modify their acceptance speeches and say something creative about the transformative power of art, say, or even the transformative power of Spanx – anything but that tedious list of agents, managers and names of publicists.

And maybe the winners can stop thanking God. God doesn’t care who wins an Oscar.

God’s only concern at the Oscars is who does the annual “dead coil.”

Good viewing though.

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