Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I usually don’t talk much about TV, but today is one of those once in a blue moon occasions where I have to bring it up. Although this one is especially appropriate because it heavily involves movies, celebrating movies, and perhaps the future of how film itself is viewed. In August, The Academy came up with some ideas to spice up the upcoming Oscars ceremonies. Two of them were ideas I thought would have little to no effect on how the show is run (earlier airdate, commitment to three hour telecast). I still question them to this day, but at the same time, they are nowhere near as questionable as the one we are going to talk about today. As you may or may not know, one recent idea that has come out of at least a single brain of The Academy is the introduction of a category based on “Popular Film.”
What does that mean? Well, the answer isn’t exactly 100% clear. But in all likelihood it has to do with films that have a huge fan followings prior to or after its release. Box office may be a huge determining factor so the Marvel movies are one true example of the films that can get nominated. And one thing about this that seems very obvious, it might be an excuse to say that a certain movie that wasn’t “good enough” can get nominated, or even win an Academy Award. Let’s take “Black Panther” for example. It’s a superhero movie, based on a comic book, with a diverse cast, it made more money than most of the movies released in 2018. Critics loved it, and so did fans. Keep in mind, there is not one single film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has ever won an Academy Award. There have been several nominations over the years, but not one movie was ever victorious. So one of these movies finally wins, and it happens to be “Black Panther.” Well, what does it win? Best Visual Effects? Best Sound Mixing? Best Cinematography? No! Nothing of excellence! Best Popular Picture!
ME: But that truly doesn’t measure how good a movie is!
THE ACADEMY: But it’s popular!
ME: Doesn’t make a difference!
THE ACADEMY: But they won!
ME: How do you think the Chicago Cubs would feel or be measured if they won “Most Popular Team” in 2016 instead of the World Series?
THE ACADEMY: But “Black Panther’s” a great superhero movie!
ME: Listen to me, measure FILM AS A WHOLE, or die!
This Best Popular Film category is literally going against all that the Oscars is about! It basically takes the idea of excellence, and literally meshes it into something along the lines of the Teen Choice Awards or the MTV Movie Awards! I’m bringing this up today mainly because there was a recent piece written by Vanity Fair that I feel needs to be talked about. Let’s take a look at this first statement from a suggestion.
“The best-popular-film category might not be presented at next year’s Oscars, but the Academy is still keeping the idea in its back pocket.”
Is that another way to say you’re keeping it alongside your ass? Because while you may not be doing such a thing intentionally, this sure as hell feels like such a thing is happening. That’s not the statement we’re going to dive into supreme detail about however, because we haven’t even taken a look at the next statement.
“Bailey also confirmed that the award was designed as a direct response to the ceremony’s disappointing ratings, which have fallen steadily over the last few years. Drawing viewers in by catering to mainstream hits “seemed like a good idea” to the board at the time, he said, but the pushback against the proposed new category was strong enough that the Academy ultimately announced that it would no longer introduce the prize at the 2019 ceremony. However, that is “not to say that the idea is dead,” he added. “Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.””
With that in mind, let me just remind you that I was one of the people who sat down for the most recent Oscars ceremony, which received the lowest ratings out of any of its telecasts. Some choose to blame the long runtime, while others will speak towards the political talk, and a certain orange individual will point out the following:
All opinions aside, the Oscars had its lowest ratings this year with 26.5 million viewers tuning in, which does not include people watching through digital or mobile platforms. Slight digression here, but this is just one of the event programs airing this year which has just hit a new low. The Emmys and Country Music Awards have both suffered to the point where they too have received the lowest ratings of all their telecasts. The Super Bowl just received its lowest ratings since 2009. The MTV VMAs also had their lowest rated show this year, which believe it or not, means they went two years in a row having their lowest rated show. This is a problem for sure, and I’m willing to bet part of it has to do with politics, a lack of attention span, and maybe the fact that streaming doesn’t always get tracked in ratings (although Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV are slight exceptions).
But speaking of ratings, I cannot see into the future, but I don’t see how this popular award is going to help! The fact that you guys are even still thinking about it NOW is baffling to me. I remember it was said that this award was going to be “postponed” from the next ceremony, but now that conversations about it have resurfaced, I feel the need to add in my two cents about it. The fact that the Oscars is considering doing this is just sad. It’s sad because I’m a movie fan, and as a movie fan, I watch the Oscars not because I’m saluting movies that make lots of money, but because I’m saluting movies in terms of brilliance and the very idea of film as a whole. In fact, this category, Best Popular Film, is an insult to moneymaking films. I said it once before, this reminds me of the Best Animated Feature category. It’s a category for movies that MIGHT NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH for Best Picture or other categories, but hey! We have more nominations to gloss over! Maybe there’s an argument to be made that the Oscars is already somewhat of a popularity contest because you have a group of people voting on movies that they’ve experienced in the past and everything on the nomination list is from their perspective. My response, try making your own award show, where you are the control center of all operations, and avoid putting your opinion into one thing related to it.
With that in mind, let’s move onto another part of the article.
“Bailey pointed out that there is Oscar precedent for handing out two different sorts of best-picture awards. At the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, the best-picture category was split into two sections, with one recognizing the best-box-office hit (“Wings”), and the other the best artistic production (“Sunrise”).”
You understand the meaning of “worst for first,” right? This somewhat reminds me of what the Golden Globes tends to do every year, because for their awards, they seem to split the awards by genre. For certain awards in both movies and TV, we see the label towards the end, “Comedy or Musical” or “Drama.” While that may make the awards somewhat less prestigious, it still works better than the Academy’s popular film idea because at least it has nothing to do with how much money a film makes, or the amount of people who follow it simply because it is either trendy or in the moment. I’ll be honest, while to some people this might be a stretch, should “Avengers: Infinity War” be nominated for Best Picture, I’d be very happy for it. We are getting towards the end of the year, I don’t know how long such a thought will stay in my mind, but still. If it were nominated for Best Popular Picture, it would be an insult to the movie. Hey, movie! You’ve got a fan following! Ignore the critics! The fans love you! Here’s your kiddie table!
And speaking of fans, let’s take one word in the first quote and talk about it in depth. Catering.
Catering is fine when you’re having a special event such as a party or a wedding. Other than that, catering sucks! The fact that the Oscars might ignore their previous ways and CATER to mainstream audiences is just abysmal! You know who does that? The MTV Movie Awards! Most of the awards are for films that mainstream audiences know! That’s not always a bad thing, but what if there’s a year that all the mainstream audiences watch whatever happens to be disposable garbage? To the mainstream audiences, watching films is entertaining, not a job. Not only that, but some of the movies you’ll find are ones that critics are not even giving deep attention towards! When you have Kristen Stewart winning THREE awards for her performance in the “Twilight” franchise, that is a not a positive sign.
Now this is the part where things get a whole lot worse:
“Bailey also tipped off some of the Academy’s ongoing conversations about the future of the organization and the televised Oscar ceremony, noting that Disney, which owns ABC, is trying to “expand the awards to millennials,” in order to help the telecast thrive through ABC’s 2028 contract.”
I KNEW IT! DISNEY WAS BEHIND THIS ALL ALONG! HOLY F*CKING MICKEY MOUSE I WAS RIGHT!
OK, well, maybe not entirely. I’m not sure if Disney has a hand in the Best Popular Film category or not, it’s hard to say. But the fact that the Oscars is going from the most prestigious award show in movie history to a yearly event that solely depends on ratings means that it is basically going through a humongous downfall. This is an issue that is worse than the politics! This is an issue that is worse than the long hours that I’ll honestly sit through but others can’t take! This is an issue that relates heavily to one of the biggest complaints associated with sports for younger athletes, especially some in the millennial generation. The participation trophy. What’s going on here is that the Best Popular Film award is the kiddie table award that says a movie wins something but in reality, wins nothing. They get the award equivalent of a sticker. Yay! You voted in the election! Chances are you just killed us all! But hey, here’s a sticker for your valuable efforts!
I got to ask a serious question though, how exactly is the Oscars going to target millennials? What are they, going to advertise the show with glossy backgrounds and everyone has Snapchat dog filters on their heads? Are they going to go nostalgic and celebrate the movies the nineties’ kids used to watch? Maybe put all of the older Oscars telecasts on Netflix or the new Disney streaming service? But if you are only trying to force voters to vote for movies that mostly millennials watch, then the Academy has crossed the line. I could go into catering, but I’ve already done enough of that, haven’t I?
I may have calmed down about this a couple of months ago, especially when you consider that it was announced that this award was postponed. But to me this is something the movie nerd community is likely to talk about. It’s like the comic book nerd community trying so hard to talk about the latest updates on the supposed “Gambit” movie that should be happening sometime soon. Maybe never, I don’t know. I thought the reason the Oscars was going to implement this was to boost ratings, and boosting ratings is not a bad idea considering what their audience consisted of this year, but this is not the way to do such a thing. The Oscars, is about prestige. It’s about celebrating the best in film. Let’s keep it that way.
Thanks for reading this post! If you are interested in more of my content be sure to check out my review for this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con! I went for the fourth year in a row and there are so many reasons to love it! Please check out my post! I will say I have no scheduled reviews for this weekend (that could change though), but there is a movie I did see on Monday called “Second Act.” I’m not going into detail about it whatsoever, my lips are sealed, it doesn’t even come out until December 21st. I don’t know when the review embargo lifts, but I can guarantee you’ll see my review when the Rotten Tomatoes ratings are revealed. There’s already verdicts on Facebook, but let’s face it, it’s Facebook. Who really cares at this point? Be sure to follow Scene Before with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you read the Vanity Fair article or hear about this whole fiasco somewhere else? Or, since we are taking shots at the Oscars, what do you think is the worst thing about the Academy or the Oscars? Let me know down below, and speaking of down below, if you want to read the Vanity Fair article I’m talking about, click the link at the end of the post! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
VANITY FAIR ARTICLE: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/11/best-popular-oscar-ratings-john-bailey
RHODE ISLAND COMIC CON 2018 REVIEW/HAUL https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/11/11/rhode-island-comic-con-2018-review-haul/