Just one month after announcing the addition of a “popular movie” Academy Award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has stated that they are postponing the introduction of this prize, pending “further study.” This honor was intended to draw more viewers to its annual awards ceremony telecast, by tapping into the popular zeitgeist. But critics immediately lambasted the decision, feeling that it cheapened the highest honor in film, which typically ignored popular opinion and financial performance, in favor of honoring more serious works that were considered more “artistic.”
In a statement, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said:
“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members. We have made changes to the Oscars over the years—including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”
This spring’s telecast drew 26.5 million viewers, down from last year’s 32 million, making it the least watched Academy Awards ceremony in history. At the same time as the announcement of the new category, the Academy announced plans to shorten the telecast to a firm three hours by shifting six to eight smaller awards, out of 24, to commercial breaks to be edited into the broadcast later. This decision was also met with backlash as critics accused the Academy of marginalizing achievements that didn’t include celebrity honorees. Of course that’s true, but sorry for those in these categories, but most people watching at home don’t care about these awards, given to people they don’t know, for movies they haven’t seen.
The Academy Awards have spent many years battling for relevance as it has steadily been seen more and more as being stuffy and out-of-touch with the tastes of the average movie watcher. It can’t really compete with the MTV Movie and TV Awards or the People’s Choice Awards, which are voted on by the public or the Golden Globes which is a looser event, where the attendees freely sip champagne as the statues are handed out.
Following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2015 (which has been revisited numerous times since), the Academy has tried to recruit younger voters, especially women and people of color, in an effort to move past its tendency to only recognize the work of white actors, directors, and other creators, especially when other awards bodies are honoring the work of women and people of color for movies that, in some cases, are completely shut out by the Oscars.
The 2019 Academy Awards will be handed out on February 24, 2019. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if this show does any better than the last.
Source: Entertainment Weekly