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How can the Audience Enroll in the Academy?

DeGeneres Welcomes the Audience to a Night of Celebration and Celebrity
DeGeneres Welcomes the Audience to a Night of Celebration and Celebrity
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In preparation for the Oscars, the Award Show's producers inevitably become a gaggle of "Oscar the Grouches" due to the unrelenting task of increasing (well, at this point, maintaining) viewers for Hollywood's Biggest Night. The usual go-to's for coaxing the audience to tune-in, over their other Sunday night TV fare, is loading the broadcast with awards' anticipation, celebrity interaction, and appearances (both physical and fashionable); however the producers are missing the mark in terms of the essence necessary to enact these rating's drivers. Viewers aren't setting their alarms for the Academy Awards because there is no internal investment, inclusion, or insightfulness throughout the event's delivery. Audience members who haven't had the opportunity to witness most of the awards' frontrunners, because the films are only playing in select theaters, have difficulty admiring the performances/pictures they never had the right to swoon over beforehand. Conversely, the Show's pretention factor tends to be off-putting to the majority of Americans who are middle-class, thus lowering large viewing participation because this demographic doesn't feel represented by the conduct of the celebration. Lastly, with the myriad of cheap jokes from the host, fashions that were already displayed during the Red Carpet hour of the event, and appearances that fail to deliver, the target audience will be channel surfing and riding the wave of another production that always delivers style/excitement- i.e. Basketball Wives/Mob Wives reruns. Moral of the story, the lack of involvement with the year's nominees, the un-relenting sophistication of the event, and the lack of excitement/nuance during the exposition of the broadcast is causing viewers to cancel their Oscar parties.

This year, Blue Jasmine and Dallas Buyer's Club, are slated to receive some of the biggest awards of the evening, but who in the television audience has actually seen these films- besides those in the "select theaters" regions? A majority of viewers will be hearing about these films for the first time during the broadcast and feel absolutely no anticipation to the winning decision, they will only be confounded as to why these movies never crossed their theaters' billboards. Due to the budgets/subject matter of the films, it makes sense to only run in specific movie houses and through a specific audience; but as popularity gained and the themes became more accepted, the demand for distribution should've forged them mainstream. Viewers were never given the opportunity to be part of the film's growing success and essentially part of its underdog story in getting noticed by the Academy. Thus, the lack of investment in many of the critically acclaimed films honored by the Awards, makes viewers feel very excluded in an art genre that is primarily created to drive audience attendance, not just Academy recognition. Then, it is no surprise that audience members don't tune into a 3-hour acknowledgement ceremony they were never invited to, in the first place, nor offered to stay throughout the duration of its successful conclusion.

Another hot-button issue for the audience tuning-in is the high-society element of the event that never seems to let its humanity shine through. Don't get me wrong, most watch the event to see Hollywood royalty in all its classiness, but in the same vein, many want to see these celebrities being "real". Jennifer Lawrence has helped blend sophistication with silliness and humble shock, which has allowed America to fall in love with her and witness many award show's just to see how she balances the three so eloquently. Although she has been criticized by the stuffy Academy voters for her behavior, it is a welcome remedy for viewers who have been turned-off by the inability to relate to these actors/actresses who are constantly wearing the facade of Hollywood supremeness; never allowing their true emotions to attend the event as well. To an audience of mostly middle-class viewers, this lack of genuineness does not offer any relevance to their everyday dichotomy of professionalism and expressionism. This main majority do not feel any glimmers of representation amongst the interactions/reactions of the nominated celebrities, therefore it is difficult to stay the course throughout their off-the-cuff acceptance speeches and elongated shocked-gushing. Thus, agitated sighs and enraged fingers will turn the dial to a coinciding celebrity packed drama with human-based characters at the center of the production- dare I say, the "D-list" celebs of The Bachelor?

Lastly, the third flaw in the Big Show's production is the lack of insightfulness throughout the host's delivery, fashions' represented, and performances/appearances revealed during the event. Let's begin with the host, this year it's Ellen DeGeneres who, by all means, is a very popular and fresh performer who always offers innovative nuance to her acts. However, with her prevalence and constant comedic expectation, the act feels like a stale re-run of The Ellen DeGeneres Show: Oscar Edition that has overstayed its welcome. Her delivery is cheap and her jokes sound like updated versions of recent revelations, thus causing a snooze factor. In terms of the fashion intrigue element of the Awards, the viewers have already seen the good, the bad, and the f-ugly during the Red Carpet portion beforehand. The only reason to tune into the broadcast for the celebrities' threads, is to just get a live encore of the sleek and the shocking; which will be re-capped more entertainingly by Joan Rivers on Fashion Police. Regarding the anticipation of rare performances/appearances, these fail to deliver merely because they are a hodge-podge of actors or actresses who, although revered contributors to film-such as this year's Bette Midler, are not particularly relevant to the current crop of awarded movies. Furthermore, proposed presenter pairings between Goldie Hawn/Kate Hudson and John Travolta/Samuel L. Jackson, theoretically create deep-seated excitement; however these mash-ups have no place within the general outline of the award's show and are an insignificant reason for viewers to stay glued to the screen. The host, the fashions, and the performances/appearances are only intriguing through nuance, or with an element of entertainment demand, which have been absent in attendance for a few years.

With the Award Show's constant struggle to create an event that engages the general television audience, the producers can bypass by simply creating investment in the standard elements. By advocating universal theatrical releases, creating an environment for celebrities to reveal their "white collars" along with their suits and ties, and signing-on hosts/guest appearances who intrigue through unforeseen-yet relevant- deliveries; the drama surrounding the night can be left to the Big Screen. In essence, if the Oscar's producers want to make a show people want to watch, they need to include the people's wants into the equation.