For the first time since I was invited into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (writers branch) in 1983, I forgot to vote in the Oscars. I did see the nominated movies, but somehow neglected to go online and cast my final ballot.
Freudian slip? Who knows? But I wasn’t the only one. America forgot to watch!
Well, not all of America. The show got a 23.1 share in something called “metered market results.” But that was down 6% from last year, a negative trend that has been going on for a decade.
Perhaps the public is getting sick of being hectored about climate change, etc. by actors who make twenty-five million dollars a picture, own yachts, and fly around in private jets. It’s a veritable orgy of moral narcissism.
This year it was the black thing. Poor Will Smith got overlooked by us racist Academy members (well, not me because I forgot to vote) for his supposedly Oscar-winning performance in Concussion. I’m supposed to cry? Smith undoubtedly got a check equal to what the average person makes in twenty lifetimes for spouting someone else’s dialogue for ten or twelve weeks. (Excuse my writer bitterness.)
Okay, I admit Academy membership skews ridiculously white and the ratio should be fixed. But is this a national catastrophe? Aren’t there thousands of higher priorities? How about fixing racist nonsense like Chris Rock’s notably unfunny joke about making the memorial section of the Oscars about cops shooting black people? C’mon, Chris, you and everybody else with an IQ in triple digits know the real problem for black people in our country, the real Tragedy with a capital T, is epidemic black-on-black violence in many of our cities. If it weren’t for the cops, it would be worse. We could have our own private Syria. How about facing reality and talking about that? (I know — not PC.)
So, yes, I did catch a little of the ceremony intermittently while multi-tasking, Chris’ opening monologue and, as luck would have it, the appearance of our vice president to remind us of that other epidemic, sexual assault. (No mention of Rolling Stone on that one. As I said, wall-to-wall moral narcissism.)
The other factor on why people aren’t watching the Oscars anymore is the obvious one — movies aren’t what they were in our culture. I watched this nominees this year and, while most of them were worthy, not one would I every wish to see again. No Godfathers or Lawrence of Arabias here. Those days seem to be over. The zeitgeist has moved on — there are too many other options and most of the more original work is being done on television. Young people don’t seem to care about movies the way we did in the era of David Lean and Federico Fellini. This is unlikely to change.
But I do have a suggestion for how the Academy can get those ratings up again — although it would make most members’ heads explode. Next year, make Donald Trump the host.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.