OPINION: Oscars worth watching anymore?
By Mireilly Gonzalez
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Tuesday, April 12, 2022
[Editor’s Note: This story has been edited and updated on Friday, April 29, 2022, to include two additional paragraphs at the end.]
On March 22, 16.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the Oscars. It was a train wreck.
The 2022 show’s viewership went down as the second least-watched and worst-rated Academy Awards show.
People coined the dramatic confrontation between Chris Rock and Will Smith as the “Slap Heard Around the Internet,” but even that couldn’t help the show’s views and ratings. Some even speculated that the whole argument might’ve been staged. Personally, the Oscars were so cringey and had so many futile attempts at making out-of-touch jokes, that I honestly wouldn’t put it past them.
One of the aforementioned futile attempts for a joke that stood out to me was Regina Hall’s “COVID-19 pat-down” bit. When I brought it up to a friend, they echoed my sentiment. However, what made them most uncomfortable was the COVID-19 part, which they’d seen as insensitive, because of the obvious fact that we’re still in the pandemic.
On the other hand, I could tolerate that part of the joke a bit more. Part of me wishes we truly were done with COVID-19 by now, and the idea of “COVID-19 regulations” were a distant memory. But it isn’t. I understand her point now—it’s because the pandemic isn’t over, although it has been two years.
For me, one specific thing made me grimace as I tried to watch the awards show: a joke that made light of sexual assault, as if it suddenly was OK to literally “act out” spontaneous sexual harassment on a whole stage. The sentiment was “It is OK because they’re men.”
This is why the Academy Awards’ drop in viewership is promising. Other factors that might contribute to the trend include: the decline of privacy in Hollywood stars’ personal lives and therefore loss of “glamor” in award shows like these, on-demand or streaming features for the shows which motivate viewers to not have to stay up all night and lose sleep over the shows, etc. But still, we must also give credit to movements that bring more awareness regarding how award shows like the Oscars further instill racism and gender discrimination.
Let me paint you a picture of how gross Hollywood actually is.
One of the most discriminated groups in the U.S. is women of color. They receive a double whammy—not being white, and being a woman.
The Academy didn’t award a single Black woman the Best Actress Oscar until Halley Berry in 2002 for Monster Ball. Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave, but not a single award for her work in Us.
In the whole history of the Oscars since 1929, only seven women received nominations for Best Director, and only two actually won: Kathryn Bigelow (2010) and Chloe Zhao (2021). Zhao was also the only woman of color to ever be nominated for that Oscar category.
Furthermore, according to Venngage, from 1980 to 2015, 89% of the Oscar-winning actresses were white.
Fast forward to today, a February study by media expert Jose Gabriel Navarro found that the Academy’s 2022 voting panel was 81% white and 67% male.
Although the word “inclusivity” is now part of the Academy’s own lexicon, their actions toward it prove to be little.