Monday, February 23, 2009

7th Art: What Transformed the Oscar into a Titanic Disaster?

Readers may have noticed that yesterday I talked twice about the 7th art, but didn't mention the Oscar ceremony. Even if not planned, it happened simply because I couldn't care less about it. The problem is that the Oscar for quite a while has become a turkey of Titanic dimensions, as pointed out by Selva Brasilis (in Portuguese), and as the magazine The Economist explains in this article. Here's a quote (italics are mine):

According to a persistent Hollywood myth ... the Oscars ceremony is watched by a billion people across the world. The real number is impossible to calculate, but it is either in the tens of millions or the low hundreds of millions. And it is falling in the Oscars’ home territory. Last year 32m Americans tuned in, the smallest audience ever. Three times as many watched American football’s Super Bowl. Indeed, more people saw the premiere of American Idol, an amateur singing competition.

Nor does this year’s competition seem to be helping the film business much. On the eve of Oscar weekend the five nominees for best film—“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Frost / Nixon”, “Milk”, “The Reader” and “Slumdog Millionaire”—had together earned $276m at the box-office. To put that in perspective, “The Dark Knight”, the latest of the Batman films, has pulled in $533m. Last weekend all of the nominees for best film put together only just managed to earn more than a critically loathed popcorn accompaniment entitled “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”. All but one were beaten by “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” which does not even have Kate Beckinsale in it.

... The danger is that Hollywood’s taste in its own products is becoming as removed from public opinion as its political views are outside the American mainstream. What viewers will see on Sunday night is an industry talking to itself.

There was a time (many eons ago) when I was an avid watcher of Oscar ceremonies. For quite a while now, these ceremonies have become something that you need to avoid at all costs. To make my point clear, I preferred to spend the night watching a really good movie from the 60s ("Judgment at Nuremberg") than watching the best actor prize being given to the looniest of the Hollywood loonies, to a lively example of what bad acting is all about, if not on the screens, surely in the real world theater.

The problem with the Oscar is that, instead of abiding to market tastes, it has become a platform for pseudo-intellectualism and political hypocrisy. On one side, shallow political philosophies are presented from an unconvincing high moral ground. On the other side, you see the most vain and arrogant presenting themselves as humble world saviors and pop revolutionaries, like if they just came out of some Cuban sierra. To be sincere, it's simply disgusting.

There was once a time when the Oscar was about what made moviegoers tick, and not about celebrities trying their hands at political brainwashing. Sorry, but I'm out until it changes back into what once made its glory.

1 comment:

ENNYMAN said...

Many good points here... Has Hollywood lost touch with its public? Maybe to produce a movie that sells lots of tickets (Dark Knight) is equated with being a sellout... though maybe they did not like the Dark Knight because there was a subtle endorsement of the notion that in order for good guys to defeat evil they may have to cross some ethical lines that even the good guys don't believe should be crossed, ... but do it for a higher good.
Did you see any discussion of this theme in the media? just curious