Home Entertainment If it takes Will Smith’s slap to make people watch the Oscars, is it doomed? | Stuart Heritage

If it takes Will Smith’s slap to make people watch the Oscars, is it doomed? | Stuart Heritage

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Without query, Sunday evening’s Oscars had been the ugliest in historical past. By physically assaulting a performer onstage, Will Smith managed to trigger irreparable harm to the ceremony. And the outright failure of the present’s producers and company to chastise Smith, and even totally acknowledge his assault, has thrown the complete Academy into disrepute. Nevertheless, for those who squint exhausting sufficient and have a look at it from simply the suitable angle, it might need been simply the factor that the Oscars wanted.

First, some perspective. This yr’s Oscars wanted to be a success. Final yr’s Covid ceremony was watched, by a point, by far fewer people than any other Oscars in history. This was partly resulting from circumstance – no huge movies had been launched resulting from Covid, and the large stars had been understandably reluctant to all go and breathe on one another in an enclosed area – but in addition because of the occasion itself. Held in a practice station, it was brisk and transient and shorn of all clips and jokes. It was not in any means enjoyable to observe, so no one watched it.

Nevertheless it was additionally indicative of a wider decline. In 1998, the Oscars had been watched by 57 million folks. By 2004 that quantity had dropped to 43 million. In 2015 it had 37 million. In 2018 it had 26 million. In 2020, the final ceremony to occur pre-Covid, the Oscars might solely muster a lowly 23 million. This isn’t information, as a result of everybody is aware of why. The Oscars are too lengthy, too boring, too smug, too irrelevant.

Oscars key moments: emotions run high at 2022 Academy Awards – video
Oscars key moments: feelings run excessive at 2022 Academy Awards – video

And for probably the most half, that’s how Sunday’s Oscars had been, too. Virtually each modernising change that befell throughout the ceremony failed exhausting. All of the technical awards occurred earlier than the televised ceremony, however virtually all of them had been gained by Dune, which is the one nominated movie that folks had been truly prone to have seen. A number of the time was ceded to “fan favourite” movies voted for by the public, however the phase was inevitably Boaty McBoatfaced by a handful of hardcore Zack Snyder zealots, which meant that Hollywood’s most prestigious evening needed to grind to a halt so that everybody might watch the Flash enter the Pace Power.

It goes on. The much-hyped efficiency of We Don’t Speak About Bruno from Encanto ended up being a totally completely different music about how nice the Oscars are. The In Memoriam bit ended up being Jamie Lee Curtis holding slightly canine and studying a eulogy whereas a choir sang Spirit within the Sky behind her. The entire thing was inept, and seemed set to go down as one more punishing snoozefest.

After which Will Smith hit Chris Rock. And folks began to speak concerning the Oscars once more. Social media, discuss exhibits, information programmes; all of them lit up attempting to course of precisely what occurred. Visits to the liveblog I wrote during the ceremony – which was doing simply wonderful earlier than the incident, by the best way – exploded by 3,000% after the slap. By taking part in host to 1 man shedding his thoughts (and probably his profession) in actual time, the Oscars has snatched again a few of its cultural energy. Ratings were still the second lowest ever, however individuals are truly speaking concerning the Oscars once more. When was the final time that occurred?

However let’s be smart. In all chance, the slap gained’t translate to a scores bump subsequent yr. The closest equal in latest reminiscence was in all probability when Janet Jackson’s top came off during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. Rankings for the next yr’s present truly dipped slightly.

And that was pre-YouTube, keep in mind. Now everybody is aware of that each one the juicy stuff can be packaged up and caught on-line, that’s the place they’re prone to watch it. At time of writing, the Guardian’s video of the slap has been watched by greater than 4 occasions the variety of Individuals who watched the ceremony. And whereas the total ceremony was way more indicative of the queasy, uncomfortable chaos attributable to Will Smith’s stupidity, why sit by way of a four-hour awards present when you possibly can watch the good things occur in simply 84 seconds?

The larger query is whether or not any of us need to reside in a world the place that is how the Oscars regain the cultural dialog. Low cost violence may be thrilling within the second, however it tarnishes all the pieces round it. The Oscars may be a steadily declining irrelevance with a quickly approaching sell-by date, however that’s far more preferable than it changing into The Jerry Springer Show.

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