Is the Appeal of Watching Award Shows a Thing of the Past?

The glitz, the glamour, the celebrity. Award shows are the mecca of appreciation for the Hollywood elite to enhance their egos on how great they think their art forms are. While there are some that still find them appealing, many others have lost interest, especially in the last five years.

The 2021 Academy Awards aired on ABC on Sunday, April 25th, and it has been reported that the viewership declined over 50% since last year. Only 9.85 million viewers tuned in to this latest festival of ego stroking. Other award shows, including the Golden Globes, Primetime Emmy Awards, and Grammy Awards, have also had declining ratings since at least 2017.

Many industries, including movie theatres, are starting to gradually disappear because of the effects of the pandemic. There are many reasons why viewership has declined in the last five years, but an important question to ask about the broadcasting of these award shows is this: are they the next thing to go? Are the award shows so outdated that it’s a waste of time and money to even air them in the first place?

Academy Award-nominated movies of years past, including Titanic, Brokeback Mountain, Top Gun, and Rocky, had more mainstream interest among movie watchers. However, the nominations in more recent years are ones that most of us haven’t either heard of until their Oscar nomination or wouldn’t bother to watch in the first place. For example, The Shape of Water, which was the Best Picture winner in 2018, is about a cleaner that falls in love with what is essentially a fish. Everyone has different movie tastes, but the premise of the movie seems pretentious, at least in my book. A demonstration of bestiality isn’t something that I would want to spend almost two hours of my life watching.

The movies nominated for the 2021 Academy Awards were not only unattractive to the average viewer, but they are also gloomy and depressing. Bill Maher said it best in his closing monologue on his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, a couple weeks ago: “Hollywood used to know how to make a movie that was about something, a movie for adults that was entertaining and not just depressing”. There are plenty of other quips that drive the point home from this clip, so I will leave it below for your viewing pleasure:

There is the occasional movie that is more popular among laypeople that will happen to get nominated, including Borat Subsequent Moviefilm or Spectre, but it’s not like these movies get nominated for Best Picture. If the movies had more widespread appeal to the masses, would it increase viewership? It may be something for the Academy to think about.

The ceremonies also just seem like an opportunity for most celebrities to evangelize their political beliefs to the masses. It’s a way to demonstrate their “woke” credibility or a way to “own the libs”, thus continuing to drive a wedge between liberals and conservatives, attempting to prove how important they think they are, and making a mountain out of a molehill with concerns that most working class people couldn’t care less about.

Joy Villa, a singer and vocal Trump supporter, has worn dresses touting her support for former President Trump at the Grammy Awards in years past. The other side of the political spectrum sees an inevitability of the host or other celebrity in attendance making jokes and/or a swipe at someone on the opposite side because they disagree, even potentially going for the jugular. Most of the jokes are at the expense of conservatives, which may be what has driven away those viewers in recent years. It’s unproductive to establishing a conversation about bipartisanship and is just frankly annoying as a viewer.

It’s not just political nonsense that shows how out of touch Hollywood can be. The gift bags are always chockfull of “swag” that would probably be worth enough to feed those in need, but instead is being given to those who could afford this stuff anyway. This year’s Oscars “Swag Bag” included a concierge package to help with hangovers and stays to resorts among other expensive things that are priced in total at $205,000. Couldn’t this money to buy these gift bags have been allocated to a philanthropic cause? Did we forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic and people are still strapped for cash?

There is also a level of hypocrisy when it comes to COVID protocols. I understand the Academy and the other organizations in charge of the other award shows have had to follow the necessary precautions, which included doing satellite acceptance speeches and a change in location. However, you can tell the celebrities are still in close proximity despite being COVID tested. Haven’t we been told this last year to maintain social distancing, wear our mask, etc.? Are the rules for thee and not for me? It sure seems like it.

As mentioned previously, the ratings for several of these award shows have been in a sharp decline since 2017. The reasons for this decline remain to be seen and could very well be contributed to some of what has been stated above. The Academy Awards viewers have declined 70% since 2017. The Golden Globes viewership has declined since 2017, with a 65% decrease. In addition, the Grammy Awards ceremony also decreased about 65% in viewership from 2017 to 2021. These award shows are all seemingly connected to corporations, whose primary goal is making money (I know, I’m Captain Obvious). Wouldn’t it make financial sense to cease broadcasting the ceremony for both the networks and advertisers with this decline in viewers to blame?

We all need escapism from reality from time to time, especially after this year’s events. When it seems like these award ceremonies contain constant reminders of how much the realities of the present day are dismal, politicization of seemingly pointless topics, or hypocrisy, it’s easy to understand why someone would choose to decline watching the Oscars, Grammy’s, or otherwise in the first place.

While it’s an honor to be nominated or win an award for your work, whether it be in the private sector or entertainment industry, it may make sense to keep it among themselves. It’s not a divisive move, but instead a way to keep up with the times and trends among the majority of TV watchers and perhaps make a good business decision. It may have made sense to air these awards in years past, but the times, they are a-changin’.

Links:

https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/oscar-ratings-lowest-ever-1234960615/

https://qz.com/2001225/whats-in-the-2021-oscar-swag-bag/

https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/grammy-awards-ratings-2019-1203135733/

https://variety.com/2020/music/news/joy-villa-dress-grammys-trump-impeached-re-elected-1203478738/

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/awards/8549011/grammy-speeches-political-social-issues

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