It’s time for the Academy to learn its lesson


Photo courtesy of Instagram @theacademy

Oscars Red Carpet 2021

In a typical year, the Oscars are defined by over-the-top fashion, A-List red carpet appearances and performances from stars like Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga that leave Twitter users speculating about romance. However, the moment most emblematic of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony is not one that will land itself on the Twitter trending page. Under an hour into the program, Questlove enthusiastically queues up “Eye of the Tiger,” and instead of delivering a needed adrenaline boost, the music slowly fades, and the camera pans to an obscure celebrity delivering a somber speech. 

When considering the nominees and the concept, the buildup of excitement was valid. Not only was this event successfully held entirely in person, but the list of artists that left with awards was undoubtedly historic. Nomadland Director Chloé Zhao was only the second woman ever to take home Best Director and the first-ever woman of color to do so. Short films like the animated “If Anything Happens I Love You” and the live-action “Two Distant Strangers” that deal with themes of gun violence and racial injustice also took home deserved awards. 

Though it is tremendous to see the strides that the film industry has made towards greater inclusivity, almost nothing about the broadcast itself was entertaining. With theaters shuttered, most viewers had not even heard of the movies that the presenters so tirelessly tried to convince us “changed the world.” Instead of trying to appeal to these audiences, the Oscars decided to remove memorable performances and desperately-needed comic relief in exchange for dreadful backstories and endless “thank you” speeches.

Unfortunately, the content of the broadcast was not the only thing that made it unwatchable. Rather than the typical style of footage viewers have come to expect from a live show, the producers of the Oscars this year decided to opt for a style that was more cinematic. Despite the idea seeming interesting on paper, combined with the gathering of maskless celebrities, the excessive production and at times blurry or shaky footage, the ceremony was difficult to watch and somehow more contrived than usual.

This year, the Oscars had a chance to do something memorable: take a group of talented, groundbreaking nominees and honor them in a way for all to appreciate. Recently, the Grammys did this successfully, proving that it is possible to capture the essence of what viewers love about award shows and deliver it in a pandemic environment. 

In fact, the Academy may be in trouble. Last year had the lowest viewership ratings in history, and this year, they were down 58 percent from last year, according to Variety. 

Much like the late Chadwick Boseman, the viewers of this year’s pretentious Academy Awards were, without question, snubbed.