It is time to draw the curtain, the Oscars are irrelevant
With consistently low ratings and out-of-touch celebrities, the Oscars are an unnecessary mess.
Opinion by Cassandra Nava, Editor-in-Chief
What once symbolized a celebration of art and culture has fizzled out into an insignificant event ignored by many.
The annual Academy Awards ceremony aims to honor the best films of the previous year through its 24 categories. While some enjoy the grand spectacle, latest statistics have shown a decline in viewership. According to Variety, the 2021 Oscars had the lowest ratings in history at a mere 9.23 million viewers, which was a 51 percent decline from the 2020 ceremony. To combat the issue this year, the academy will not televise eight categories. Even a shortened version of the Oscars will not ease the unbearable pain of watching a room full of self-absorbed celebrities wallow in their wealth at the entertainment industry’s biggest party.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed celebrities’ lack of relevance to the culture when the public reflected on what was important in their lives, showcasing stark differences in lifestyles. Celebrities posted on social media while stuck in their mansions as average Americans kept working amidst the chaos, with some industries not privileged enough to work from home.
It makes perfect sense as to why the ratings for the gaudy ceremony have lowered each year — a trend especially seen starting in 2020. Why continue to celebrate a group of people lacking awareness?
Similarly, the Oscars remain irrelevant due to their poor inclusivity attempts, especially when discussing non-white and female nominees across the board. When nominations were released in 2015, people took to social media to call attention to the lack of diversity with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. That year and the following, the categories for “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” were all white nominees.
According to Insider, “89 percent of nominations in the past decade went to white people.”
It seems as though changes were only made after national outcry, showing that the academy will only succumb to the pressure of righting wrongs if it means higher viewership. Even so, not many changes have been made.
Six years after the hashtag came into fruition, Yuh-Jung Youn became the first Korean woman to win an Oscar for best supporting actress for “Minari.” This year, the nominations reveal four actors of color contending for “Best Actress” or “Best Actor.”
Audiences should not have to count the actors of color (usually only enough to count on one hand) to make sure each year’s award show is inclusive enough. It should be the norm to have for nominations to include anyone regardless of any other factor other than their performance.
These issues go beyond actors, and extend to all categories as well. In 2020, women in Hollywood took a stand against the lack of female directors nominated. According to Deadline, 99 percent of “Best Director” nominees have gone to men (as of 2020). This year, one woman is nominated in the category.
All of these issues, which have been amplified recently due to social media, have shown how irrelevant the Oscars are to the general public. The lack of enthusiasm cannot be attributed to one particular reason, but rather a million little ones, leaving the award show nearly viewerless.
The Academy Awards are still significant in our evolving society
Since 1929, film has developed into an evolutionary art as the Oscars are a remarkable part of cultural change.
Opinion by Natalie Metcalf, Staff Writer
The Oscars celebrate the culture of filmmaking today, further shaping the storytelling of tomorrow through highlighting the work of individual artists, encouraging diversity and motivating future generations.
For almost 100 years, Hollywood has been celebrating the art of film. The Academy Awards are a tradition in Hollywood and like most traditions, they blossom and evolve. While critics claim that diversity among nominees is lackluster, recent awards have included cultural representation, such as women directors and people of color.
At the 2010 Oscars, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win best director for her film, “The Hurt Locker ''(2008). This win set the precedent for Chloe Zaho’s win in 2021 for “Nomadland”(2020).
“[The Oscars are flawed] but it is still an event designed to celebrate the art and talent of the diverse industry of Hollywood,” said cinema professor and Media Arts Chair Eric Swelstad.
This year the remake of “West Side Story” (2021) is nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture, actress in a supporting role, and directing. The films’ casting offers a more accurate portrayal than the original with Rachel Zegler, a Colombian-American actress, starring as Maria. In the original “West Side Story” (1961), Natalie Wood wasn’t latino and could not accurately portray the main character. With the Oscars long standing tradition, specific casting in Hollywood has evolved.
“[The Academy Awards] can be more representative of all the creative cinematic work regardless of the breadth of any piece's exposure,” said cinema professor Chad Sustin. “This may give us a more accurate depiction of each year’s artistic work.”
“Parasite” (2019) became the first foreign language film to win best picture when it took home the coveted award in 2020. In 2021, Youn Yuh-jung became the first Korean to win best supporting actress for her performance in “Minari” (2020). Along with bringing home an Oscar, these artists show that the film world is diverse.
The Oscars are not solely about seeing one’s favorite actors and actresses dressed up, it's about celebrating art in its entirety. Directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, actors, actresses, costume designers, composers and many more artists play an important part in movie magic. One of the main points of watching the Oscars is acknowledging these talents who have collaborated to make something special.
Past Academy Awards led to the creation of popular movies today, altering the future of film history. “The Godfather'' (1972) inspired future gangster films, such as “Scarface,”(1983) and “Donnie Brasco” (1997). Without the Oscar’s recognition of “The Godfather” we wouldn’t know of Al Pacino, who is arguably one of the greatest actors of all time.
Movies are an important part of human culture, “the big five”– best picture, best director, best actor, best actress and best adapted screenplay–proves the award shows’ relevance. In total three films have won the top five awards, “It Happened One Night” (1934), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” (1975) and “Silence of the Lambs”(1991). These films in its release broke boundaries and were loved because of their great artistry. If the Academy Awards did not exist, people wouldn’t recognize these influential pieces of art.
“The Oscars are relevant because film is an art,” said Swelstad. “The industry holds up the Oscars as examples of what cinema can achieve.”