The Oscars are in trouble. People are switching off in their millions. A paltry 9.85m Americans tuned in to the 93rd Oscars on Sunday evening. Film and TV execs will be tearing their hair out. They go to all that trouble to put on a night of glamour and back-slapping and the little people don’t even bother to watch?
The really surprising thing, of course, is that anyone is surprised. The Oscars has become insufferable in recent years. It’s gone from being a celebration of celluloid achievement to a three-hour finger-wag at the masses about everything from climate change to racial awareness. Why on earth would your average American tune in to be lectured by a luvvie wearing a dress that cost more than his car?
This year’s ceremony was different, of course. Covid made sure of that. It was smaller than normal, and more subdued. Also, not many people have been to the cinema over the past year — though we’ve all been watching movies on streaming services — so maybe there isn’t much appetite for a long night of film talk. That is no doubt one of the reasons why, hilariously, the audience in the US was less than a third of the number of Brits who tuned in to see Angie tell Den she had cancer on EastEnders in 1986.
But there’s something else going on, too. Oscars viewing figures have been in freefall since 2014. The 9.85m brave souls who endured the ceremony on Sunday night represented a staggering 58 per cent drop on last year’s ceremony, which was watched by 23.6m people in the US. And last year was a drop on the year before, when almost 30m people tuned in. For most of the 2000s the viewing figures hovered around the 40m mark — since 2014 they have fallen to 30m, 20m, and now less than 10m. Ouch.
What’s funny is that millions of ordinary Americans are basically boycotting the Oscars. Remember the 2016 Oscars controversy — #OscarsSoWhite — when Jada Pinkett-Smith, Spike Lee and others boycotted the ceremony over the lack of nominations for black talent? (That year’s presenter Chris Rock brilliantly punctured the pomposity of it all by saying: ‘Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties — I wasn’t invited’) Well, now armies of everyday Americans are boycotting the Oscars, and I bet it’s because of this: OscarsSoWoke.
The moralisation of the Oscars has been relentless. Who can forget Lady Gaga singing a song about the alleged rape crisis on American campuses at the 2016 ceremony? What a foot-tapper that was. Or Leonardo DiCaprio using his Best Actor speech that same year to remind the moronic masses at home that ‘climate change is real, it is happening right now’. Most viewers were probably thinking to themselves: ‘Yes we know, Leo. Which is why we have never flown 8,000 miles in a private jet to accept a green award, unlike you.’
Then there was 2017’s incessant Trump-bashing. As one report put it:
‘The first salvo against Donald Trump was fired only a few minutes into the Oscars — and then they just kept on coming.’
Riveting. Jimmy Kimmel opened that year’s ceremony by saying:
‘This is being watched live by millions of people in 225 countries that now hate us.’
He received wild cheers from the audience of Dior-draped, diamond-encrusted thesps who were royally peeved that warmonger Hillary Clinton didn’t win the election.
But imagine being a working-class American who voted for Trump because you were sick of the old establishment and wanted change? Why would you subject yourself to three hours of sneering from people who earn more in a month than you do in your entire life? Pass the remote.
The hypocrisy of the woke elites has been on full display at the Oscars, too. At recent ceremonies luvvies took potshots at Trump over the border crisis and the disgraceful spectacle of ‘kids in cages’. ‘There are no borders… that can restrain ingenuity and talent’, said Javier Bardem at the 2019 ceremony to gushing approval from the uniformly anti-Trump Hollywood set.
And yet this year none of them raised a peep about these issues, even though the border crisis has intensified under Joe Biden and even though there are still ‘kids in cages’. (Though now, of course, they’re called ‘unaccompanied migrants in overflow facilities’.) Do these things no longer matter now that they’re happening under a Democratic president luvvies approve of rather than the Bad Orange Man they loathed? If Hollywood thinks ordinary Americans aren’t clocking these extraordinary double standards, it’s sorely mistaken.
MeToo, the race issue, the alleged climate-change apocalypse, borders, the wickedness of Trump… the Oscars has been full of it. A once entertaining look-back at the best films of the year has morphed into an exasperating annual gathering of smug, self-important rich people preaching to the TV-watching masses about all the ills of the world. As the American comic Toby Muresianu put it, watching the Oscars is now like ‘three hours of being told to eat your vegetables’. It’s actually amazing 9.85m people still tuned in.
Ricky Gervais tried to set the Oscars straight with his blistering opening monologue at last year’s ceremony. He told the gathered great and good of Hollywood:
‘You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. If you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent, thank your god, and fuck off.’
It’s a pity they didn’t listen to him. When they do, and finally ditch the woke, patronising bilge, maybe folks will start watching again.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.