I Won’t Be Watching – Opinion

Sunday will be the Oscars. I Won’t Be Watching.

San Fernando Valley was where I grew-up. “Hollywood” was just 20 miles away. My family was surrounded by people passionate about film magic. Many of the kids I grew up with were connected with “the industry” and most were the people who really made the magic happen. Writers, musicians, sound mixers and costume designers are just a few of the many people I knew. They lived in Woodland Hills. These were people who had talent.

I was also raised with actors. I don’t admire actors like the majority of Americans – because I saw them in real life. I don’t “dislike” actors; a famous actor was in my wedding party, but a lot of actors I’ve met have massive egos — like they invented a cure for cancer type of ego. It seemed unjust that actors get a hugely exorbitant paycheck, for something which they had no part in creating.

Nonetheless, like millions of Americans, I’d faithfully tune in each year and watch Hollywood present its royalty. Twenty years ago there were only four films nominated for the best picture award. Today, there are ten. The 150 percent increase in best picture nominees isn’t because films are so competitively outstanding that they needed six more slots. It’s because of money. In 2008, the most popular film (Dark Knight) was left off the list and people didn’t tune in. Expanding the movie industry was the answer. The result was like adrenaline pumping into the body of a dying person.

Oscars started to shift toward blatant political activism during the Bush years, encapsulated best by Michael Moore’s acceptance speech in which he blasted “W.” That sort of activism became even more common and frankly, expected. But that didn’t stop one of Hollywood’s luminaries from giving a child-rapist, a standing ovation. Meryl Steep loudly clapped in support of Roman Polanski, 2003. Apparently, child rapists are ok if they’re talented.

As Hollywood’s overt politics moved further left, ratings started to drift lower, and lower, but the lectures got worse. Even though Streep was highly praised for Polanski’s work, others felt more at home laughing at Trump. America and the Academy extended warm embraces to leftist politics.

Oscar hosts were extremely unfunny. Oscars were given to films that nobody saw. America, however, continued to ignore the Oscars. America has lost love for Oscars, despite it being a mixture of terrible hosts and leftist political speeches. Ratings are down by a lot since 2014. I don’t know why 2014 briefly brought Oscar back to life. Ellen DeGeneres might have been the host. It wasn’t the film that won for  “best picture.” That was Birdman. TV’s tuning in went from 41 Million in 2010 to 9.85 Million last year.

Oscars TV Audience. Credit: Statista

Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall are the 2022 hosts. Sykes and Schumer are extremely unfunny. Hall is not expected to be there. Sykes is black and gay, so those categories were already set up by the Academy. Maybe Hall is the straight-straight-man? Sorry, lady. Sorry. I am not a biologist I don’t know if she is a woman.

In 2024, filmmakers must submit a dossier to the Academy and that list will inform the Academy if the required alphabet soup of “underrepresented” races, genders, sexual orientation, and disability status persons (and maybe mix in some folks identifying as three-legged Dalmatians) are in the cast and crew. If the list doesn’t meet the “diversity and inclusion”  checklist, the film will not get an Oscar nod.

Oscar may be on the last death rattle. Americans don’t want to be lectured. They don’t want to spend hours watching a program where hosts make political statements, punctuated by awful jokes, intertwined with overpaid actors making more political speeches, and ending with the year’s “best picture” being a movie they likely never saw, never wanted to see and likely will never see. I want to be entertained, and Oscar hasn’t entertained me in 25 years.

I don’t recognize half the movies nominated this year but if one of the movies is about a gay black dude who has sex with a swamp creature, it’s guaranteed to win.

Sunday will be the Oscars. I Won’t Be Watching.


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