Quiet Desperation

Oscars telecast rated PG for pretty grim

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 5/11/21

Ratings for the 2021 Academy Awards telecast were down 58% from their lowest point in the 18-49 age demographic. The previous low was set last year. The Grammys fell 51% in total viewers in the 18-49 …

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Quiet Desperation

Oscars telecast rated PG for pretty grim

Posted

Ratings for the 2021 Academy Awards telecast were down 58% from their lowest point in the 18-49 age demographic. The previous low was set last year.

The Grammys fell 51% in total viewers in the 18-49 demographic.

It would be easy to blame the pandemic. Certainly the inability for individuals to attend movies in person has had a dramatic effect on the entire film industry. Particularly theatres.

We’re staying home to watch instead.

I ingest films like vitamins, but rarely watch new ones which generally rely on special effects, extremes in violence and vulgarity-laden scripts.

There’s more to it than that in my case. I don’t believe in awards shows to begin with.

They’re invariably subjective, padded with peculiar performances, and, in the case of the Grammys, pay tribute to music I abhor.

There are too many of them. One a week.

We love to give out awards.

Frame a show around the idea. Get women to wear ridiculous clothing and parade them on a red carpet.

I don’t care for them now, but once upon a time I did. But only for the majors, not hair styling, makeup, key grip, lighting, or cue cards.

The nominees for best song were and are a bore. Now and then (Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” in 2001) there’s one that is worth listening to.

How many of the Oscar-nominated films have I seen? None.

How many of the Grammy-nominated performers do I listen to? None.

Theories vary about why the important 18-49 demographic has tuned those programs and other award shows out.

They’re overlong, for one thing.

As I said, “padded.”

There have been some memorable and weird moments.

Just four years ago, the Academy Award for Best Picture initially went to the wrong picture.

If I could be assured that glamorous stars would bungle the whole thing like a Marx Brothers movie, I might watch.

Or if the banter between presenters had any naturalness, I might watch.

Or if they’d just get all of those stars in the room, tell them the results would be mailed, then make them and the audience at home watch “Sunset Boulevard,” I might too.

Every year, there’s a controversy. In the recent past: not enough women and minorities represented in the industry and in the nominations.

This year, a presumptive Best Actor wasn’t and an 83-year-old actor not in attendance was. The inevitable grumblers grumbled.

It doesn’t matter who wins.

Sure, it will look good on your resume. And your salary might jump from $10 million to $20 million, but that’s about it.

How many times have you re-watched these winners?

“Shakespeare in Love,” “Crash,” “Chicago”?

Kevin Spacey (remember him) won more Academy Awards for Best Actor than Humphrey Bogart. How is that possible?

Bogart didn’t win for “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Big Sleep,” “Casablanca,” “To Have and Have Not,” or “The Caine Mutiny.” He won for his performance in “The African Queen.”

Quick: Who won Best Actor for his performance in 1997’s “Life is Beautiful” and then ate the theatre on his way up to receive the award?

Maybe we’re just rethinking many activities once thought to be meaningful and important. And entertaining.

Waiting three hours to see Sacheen Littlefeather isn’t worth it.

Winners are posted online immediately and highlights wind up on YouTube forever.

That includes Littlefeather.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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