Are the Oscars a big deal anymore?
Award shows exist as the marker of what good content should be. Many award shows exist for different forms of entertainment, but for each art form, there is a certain award show that is considered to be the pinnacle. In the case of movies, this is the Academy Awards. However, in recent times, the Oscars have begun to lose the significance that they had established for themselves.
A lot of the relevancy they had was based on cultural hegemony. By setting themselves as the de facto leader of all awards for cinema, they have made the world believe that the movies that only come from the west are the best contenders for their awards. For the longest time, their opinion was thought to be the top one, and everyone used to follow them religiously for their judgement on the year's best releases.
But as of late, people are starting to realise that they do not speak for the rest of the world, no matter how hard they frame themselves as the spokespeople for international cinema. When looking at the nominations for major categories, most, if not all, are full of Hollywood releases. Foreign films have been side-lined to their own separate section.
It is not just foreign films that get the short end of the stick. According to a report by Insider, in the top eight major categories, eighty-nine percent of all nominations went to white people, and seventy-one percent were for men. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts these awards, laud themselves for their diversity and inclusivity, but the numbers show otherwise.
The Academy does not feel very obligated to deliver on its promises of representation, since it is still mostly headed by white men. This is becoming more evident every day, and their opinion no longer gets the same prominence as it used to before.
Another reason why so many award shows, in general, might be losing their value is because people are becoming aware that art is subjective. The awards represent the opinion of a small percentage of people. Due to the lack of diversity on their boards, many critically acclaimed actors and movies automatically get overlooked, as the current heads cannot, or do not want to, relate to them.
Viewers are starting to feel alienated as well, and they do not feel the need to tune in to the award show anymore. The only people who seem to keep up with them anymore are movie aficionados; they seem to have lost a good percentage of their casual viewers at this point.
There was a time when the Oscars used to be the year's trendsetter. Certain events would become popular just because they happened at the Oscars, like the star-studded selfie taken at the 2014 show that blew up the internet. But now the tides have turned and it is the opposite as people are starting to hear about the awards because of the unsavoury incidents that take place, such as Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. However, all things considered, maybe this change is more than welcome.
1. Insider.com (February 2, 2021). A complete breakdown of the Oscars diversity problem over the past decade.
2. The New York Times (September 9, 2020). The Oscars' New Diversity Rules Are Sweeping but Safe.
3. Vanityfair.com (October 14, 2021). This Year's Oscar Race May Already Have a Diversity Problem.
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