I want to make it clear that Chris Rock is the only reason why I am watching the Oscars this year. The buzz he created when he hinted at an Oscar ‘blackout’ – tweeting fifteen seconds of blank screen with static – is probably more exciting the entirety of last year’s broadcast. So I am watching because I am hoping Rock ups the ante, skewers the powers that be at the Oscars about the lack of diversity in this year’s nominees, and makes fun of as many people as he can in the audience.
Sometimes the host is the only reason to watch an awards show. Billy Crystal always delighted as the Oscars host, but guys like Chevy Chase and David Letterman bombed. Some viewers are there no matter what because they want to see who wins, but I truthfully don’t need to stay up until after midnight to see who gets Best Actor.
The Oscars are bloated like Violet Beauregard after chewing that weird gum in Willy Wonka. It’s like anything that gets too big for no other reason than gluttony, in this case for ratings – but that proves to be its undoing, sort of like Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster that doth mocks the meat it feeds upon.
The Oscars have always been my least favorite awards show because of the drawn out nature of things. There are too many presenters, too many tangents, and too much filler (they even have seat fillers who occupy seats while the A-listers go potty). The truth is that this becomes a classic example of where more is less – and in the case of this year, much less.
I know some stars like Will Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, and director Spike Lee are boycotting the broadcast (Smith’s terrific performance in Concussion was overlooked) because there are all white nominees in the major categories this year. It’s a bit peculiar that this also happened last year, but that notwithstanding, the Oscars have long been due for an overhaul.
If you add red carpet time and all the other assorted hype, this night turns into five plus hours of mostly snooze fest. I’d rather watch a documentary on the life of a tsetse fly than sit through most of it. It’s also up against a new episode of The Walking Dead, which I am going to record in order not to miss it.
I think if they were smart – and there have to be some bright bulbs among the dim ones behind the show – the Oscar broadcast could be trimmed down to three hours at the most. Get rid of all those things that are extraneous, present some lesser award categories off screen and quickly show the faces of the winners, and cut the chitter chatter between presenters – mostly read off the teleprompters and as boring as a Republican debate without Donald Trump.
Streamlining the ceremony and making sure there is a more inclusive attitude when voting for nominees are changes that need to have been made yesterday. We can only hope that by next year that the Academy will get it right and the broadcast will reflect these changes.
I am putting my money on Chris Rock to make this a show to remember. He’s in a great position to comment on the Oscar controversy, and if anyone can pull it off it is he. His tweet is very promising; now I hope that he is not fettered in any way that would prevent him from pulling out all the stops.
By the way, the Oscars need Chris Rock a hell of a lot more than Rock needs the Oscars. Here’s hoping that he takes the ball and runs with it all the way to the finish line; in this case that will be when all of us bleary-eyed viewers are hoping to stay up to hear which film wins the Best Picture award.
Photo Credit: ABC News