Oscars so . . . irrelevant?

How the annual “Super Bowl for Film Geeks” has become the anticlimatic end of movie awards season


J. Dollins

The Oscars are tonight, but does anyone care?

Tonight is the 95th Academy Awards. Celebrities will gather on Hollywood Boulevard to see which movies and performers are gifted the gold Oscar statuettes for their work this past year. That said . . .

The Oscars are so irrelevant that even millennials don’t think they’re cool anymore. And Gen Zers? Did they ever consider the Oscars to be cool to start?

For the past few years we’ve slowly seen a decline in interest in the Oscars with more people tuning out and the interest lowering. 

So, why is it that the Oscars are losing their audience? What’s going on that has made what some consider the most important awards show of the year insignificant?

The Oscars ratings have never been lower. Only 16 million people tuned in last year according to Nielsen, the organization that compiles ratings data for television shows. Compared to other awards shows like the Grammys (9 million viewers) and the Emmys (5 million), the Oscars are still successful, but have been in a big decline since 2010 when 40 million people tuned in to the broadcast.

Perhaps the reason for this is the way people watch “TV” now. The awards are also only available to watch on ABC, which may be inconvenient since a lot of people are canceling their cable, especially younger people. 

Streaming has become the new “TV” and the Oscars aren’t available on services like YouTube. Unless, of course, you pay a premium for YouTube TV.

Many from Generation Z view the Oscars as totally old and irrelevant. This is, after all, the 95th Academy Awards. The only thing that feels fresh and new are the celebrity fashion choices on the red carpet.

And for older generations, they struggle with the show because they may not know who all these new celebrities are. Do the Boomers really care who Paul Mescal is? Or Stephanie Hsu

So at this point the only target audience would be film critics and movie fans like myself. Younger movie fans often don’t have cable or an alternative way of viewing the broadcast.

Another reason Gen Zers find themselves struggling with the Oscars may have a lot to do with controversies surrounding who receives the awards, or even nominations for them. It’s well-documented that the Oscars have a history of nominating mostly white people. With Generation Z’s enhanced sensitivity to issues of race and social justice, they are just as likely to spend the awards night pulling up old Tweets to call out a controversy as they are to watch a montage about the “magic of movies.”

With the show basically only nominating white people half the time and this year there aren’t any people of color in the best actor category something is bound to happen.

Actors like Diego Calva (“Babylon”) or Daniel Kaluuya (“Nope”) gave great performances in their films, but were overlooked for an old-timey Brit actor like Bill Nighy (“Living”).

But there will always be snubs. This happens every year. The thing most people seem to overlook is when people get nominated unfairly, like Best Actress nominee Andrea Riseborough.

Riseborough, a white woman, got nominated this year for “To Leslie,” a movie no one saw, and even most film critics couldn’t place when the nominees were announced. Her nomination was the result of unfair collusion by her influential acting friends, like Edward Norton and Gwynth Paltrow, whose campaign shut out actress Danielle Deadwyler, who had a great year in critically-acclaimed movies like “Till” and the box office smash “The Woman King.” 

Controversies, changes in technology, and generational divides all provide reasons for why the Oscars have lost their luster. So, even though for many movie fans, tonight’s show is their Super Bowl, it may well be the least watched broadcast in the show’s history.

I mean, I guess that makes it somewhat relevant. Just not for the reasons anyone associated with the event wants.