Eppler: 3 reasons I'm over the Oscars this year, and why you're - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: 3 reasons I'm over the Oscars this year, and why you're not watching

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I used to be so excited for the Oscars. It used to be a bigger deal in my house than the Super Bowl. My family would gather around the TV and I had strict rules for not talking during the telecast. But now? I'm having trouble finding the motivation to even publish predictions this year. 

What's happened? Why am I especially down on it this year? I've narrowed it down to three factors. 

1. Predictability

Part of the fun of watching the Oscars is predicting the winners. But this year, so many of the winners in major categories feel like foregone conclusions: acting awards for Joaquin Phoenix ("Joker"), Renee Zellweger ("Judy"), Brad Pitt ("Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood"), and Laura Dern ("Marriage Story"); best picture will go to "1917" and its director Sam Raimi will be honored. 

Perhaps there might be some competition in the screenwriting categories, but that's not likely to move the needle. 

But I could live with the predictability if the eventual choices weren't so... obvious. 

2. Academy voters' taste has gotten worse

The first time I realized that Oscar voters often have bad taste in great movies was when "Shakespeare in Love" beat "Saving Private Ryan" for Best Picture in 1998. "How could that happen?" my 16-year-old self wondered. I was reminded again when "The King's Speech" won in 2010 and "The Artist" won in 2011. I had to rack my brain to remember what won last year: the likable and saccharine "Green Book."

The last straw may have been when Rami Malek was awarded Best Actor for "Bohemian Rhapsody" over Bradley Cooper's soulful (and legit singing) work in "A Star is Born." I was supremely annoyed. There's also the ongoing problem of a lack of diversity among the nominees. 

The common factor here between the winners selected and those being left out is the fact that the thousands of people who make up the Academy are still mostly old and white. So it makes sense they're honoring movies like "Green Book" and "The Artist" that appeal to that age group. 

Fortunately, we may see this trend change as the Academy works to include younger members from more diverse backgrounds. We'll still need quite a few more funerals to happen before real change comes. 

But changes the Academy has already made haven't always been good.

3. No Host

For the second year in a row, the Oscars telecast will go without a host. The decision was made last year after Kevin Hart withdrew as the selected host and the Academy couldn't find someone it was comfortable with who wanted to do that thankless job. So instead, time was filled with actors reading lame banter presenting awards or doing bits that would normally be left up to a good host. 

The host has always been one of my favorite aspects of this telecast, which has long struggled with being tedious, overlong and bloated. Some of my favorite hosts - Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Ellen Degeneres and Chris Rock - kept things lively, funny and surprising. Even the hosts that were bad (James Franco and Anne Hathaway) were fascinating because they were such failures. 

But no host at all? It's a mistake. It's a misguided attempt to placate one of the theories why people are tuning out in droves. 

Why people aren't watching

A popular theory for why Oscar viewership is down is because they've become too political. The host makes political jokes. The winners sometimes make political speeches. But the problem with that theory is the Oscars have a long history of being political. Hosts always made jokes about people in power. Winners often made political statements (remember Sacheen Littlefeather speaking for Brando?). 

The truth is that people who complain about "too much politics" really just don't like hearing political opinions where they don't agree. Because so much of Hollywood has a liberal bent, that could alienate more conservative viewers. But polls indicate half of Americans would agree with liberal Hollywood opinions. That's millions and millions of people. They're not watching, either. 

So what's really going on here?

I think society has just moved on from caring about awards shows. It's not just the Oscars. Viewership for the Emmys, Tonys and Grammys have all trended down. With the rise of streaming services and the glut of original programming, everyone is watching something different and little of it live.

Live sports continues to be a consistent draw for real-time viewership, but awards shows have a hard time drawing that same level of excitement because, as mentioned before, the winners are so often predictable.

There are too many other choices, and people have limited TV time. They'd rather catch up on that show everyone at work is talking about rather than spend three-plus hours seeing which actor won for the movie they haven't had time to see yet. 

Will I watch Sunday? Sure. I'm hooked, and I do love movies. But my patience is wearing thin.  



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