Are The Oscars Still Relevant?
The Academy Awards are about to celebrate their 91st ceremony honoring the previous year’s accomplishments in film. For the people who have given up on award shows entirely, trust me there are a lot of us, the Academy Awards, or better known as ‘The Oscars’ are meant to be the single most important and prestigious awards in the industry. It is widely considered that even receiving a nomination for an award is a token of high praise. Like most things in this weirdly controversial and opinionated world we live in now, the Oscars have been under fire for their lack of inclusion, bias opinions, and political corruption. To everyone that is upset or congratulatory to the 2019 Oscar nominations, I can only say “who cares?”
The Academy Awards is run by… well The Academy. More specifically the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The movies that are nominated, and eventually end up winning the awards, are dictated by a secret group of individuals. I’m not joking. The Oscars are decided by some Hydra style secret society living inside of Hollywood that meet in secret. Many people do not take it seriously. Oprah had discussed how she was going to push to get nomination for Black Panther to be the best movie, but we’ll get to that later. The fact still remains that these awards are decided by people inside of the industry for the people they work with. People whom might not realize their co-stars or directors can decide the value of their films and careers.
This sense of secrecy has left a lot of people thinking that, among other reasons, the Oscars is a group of elitists that use the Academy Awards as a way to promote their own movies by using “Oscar Nominated” tag lines on movie posters and cases. Furthermore there have been rumors for many years that the members of the Academy will use their votes to gain favor and cash in their power for their own self-interests instead of staying true to the integrity of the constitution…. Wait, for a moment I thought I was talking about Congress. Where was I? My point is that when you have a group deciding the awards and there is no accountability for their decision, and they directly contribute to more sales, people view that as manipulation. But for a lot of people they still see the Academy Awards as a virtuous achievement full of integrity. That is why there is such an outcry for, what they see as, injustice within the awards as well as the industry itself.
For the past few years there has been major backlash against the fact that most, if not all, nominations for the Oscars tend to favor white actors and directors. This got a lot more traction after the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite took hold. Now I’m not going to go into every single nomination of every award and calculate the ratio of white to black people. That is utterly insane. The point of the awards in the first place is to determine the merit of a film. And when you get down to it, the demand of inclusion almost always backfires into tokenism as well as actual racism. In the entire history of The Academy Awards there have only been 14 Latino people to win. There have been less Asian Americans to win Oscars. What about LGBT representation? This year there is even a movement pointing out that no female directed movie is nominated for best picture. Does that mean that the films that are nominated are less valuable? Remember, the people deciding these nominations are just actors and film makers, they’re far from perfect themselves.
Hollywood has been riddled with news story after news story about the terrible people who work within it. Harvey Weinstein is best known now for being a piece of shit that used his power to force women into having sex with his ugly fat ass. Not only has he won an Oscar but he has been part of other’s acceptance speeches. Kevin Spacey has won two Best Actor awards but now is known for liking little boys. Kevin Hart was going to host the Oscars until people found a bunch of homophobic tweets. Casey Affleck was going to hand out the award for Best Actress until allegations surfaced about his misconduct towards women. I’m not going to say everyone in Hollywood is sexists, rapists, and pedophiles. I’m not some ‘Pizzagate’ nut job. But more and more stories of the people being celebrated at these award shows are still coming out. And every time we hear the same thing “well yea some people knew about it but what we’re you going to do?” When stories like this come out, the general audience tends to lose faith and interest in this industry as a whole. Regardless of the truth behind the stories.
When you google ‘Oscars’ many of the comments will mention an actor or movie being “Snubbed.” People generally think their opinions matter more than others. But what most seem to forget is that your opinions really have no value for the Oscars, it’s the opinions of the people working in the industry. Throughout the years many of us will see trailers for movies and in our heads think “That looks like Oscar bait.” The Academy Awards really do only care about a certain type of people and a very specific type of movie. Over the past years they have attempted to include diversity. Not just in political standings but with popular movies themselves. An academy Award for Best Popular Film was proposed and immediately shut down because people felt it mocked the integrity of the awards. Which brings us to the 2019 nominations and why I truly think the Academy has no control over its own awards anymore.
This year the smash hit Black Panther was nominated for Best Film. That award is held for the greatest fucking movie of the entire year. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t have merit, but I also do not think it is anywhere close to “greatest movie of 2018.” If I’m being honest, the nomination is some what insulting to the other movies in the running. A multi million dollar budgeted film full of CGI and a Disney Marvel skeleton plot is comparable to Vice or A Star is Born? Black Panther is not deserving of the nomination. Chadwick Boseman has been in better movies that did not receive nominations. Ryan Coogler has made better movies that did not receive nominations. Marvel has released better movies that did not receive nominations. So why is Black Panther getting one? To manipulate people into thinking the Oscars are relevant. I think what is happening is the Academy is abusing the importance of a film starring multiple black actors and actresses in order to boost their ratings. All you have to do is search Black Panther (one of the most popular films of the year) and now “The Oscars” is linked to every search.
I can go on and on with negatives as to why the Oscars are a corrupt award show full of political manipulation whose awards are hollow and meaningless, but like I said in the beginning “who cares.” The more you fight the Academy, the more power they appear to have. Let these Hollywood employees go out one night and celebrate themselves. And if the Awards and industry lose themselves trying to please everyone, then what really is the value they have anymore? The point of the Oscars was to have an award show by the people who know the exact merit of a movie, because they work on them. They were never meant to be popularity contests or have any real cultural significance. Eventually it got to be too big and now is used as some sort of golden standard for what is “good.” Maybe ninety years ago people needed a tag line on a movie poster to know if should see a movie or not but that isn’t the case now.
I’m able to see multiple movies a week if I wanted to. Not only do I have the means and capital but I also have the choices. And if I don’t want to leave my home, there are several million movies for me to stream from my couch. Seeing “Oscar Nominated” really has no importance to most people anymore. I think instead of demanding certain movies get nominated, arguing about movies getting snubbed, or celebrating a movie’s nomination, you should first and foremost just watch the movies you enjoy and tell the people you care about. If you care a little extra, write a review for the movies you watch on a site that a handful of people will read (and trust me, I’m so grateful for the people who care enough to read this.) Are the Oscar’s relevant? Not to me. But if you want to watch the award show in order to see the celebrities you love have a good time, than that’s cool too. Just don’t invest too much stress into them. The Academy’s opinions are not nearly as important as the people whom you watch movies with in person.
Oscar nomination list read and rant written by: Troy Smith