The Oscars Used To Be Magical and Inspirational.
Now they just suck –life and time out of me.
Oscar Sunday used to be the highlight of the spring. A sign that longer days were ahead and a chance to reflect on the incredible art and entertainment of the year past. And if being honest, a chance to gawk at the gowns, jewelry, and fashion on the red carpet. From Joan Rivers to Guillana Rancic, you were entertained from minute one. Actors said inspirational things that made you reflect on the environment, politics, and art. Even though I was at home in my nicest pajamas, I felt I was part of the magic. And rightly so! I was afterall watching with my best girlfriends with our best bubbly in hand.
But this year, that magic was gone, despite the fact that I was in my nicest comfies and sitting on a girlfriend’s couch with bubbly in hand.
Oscars vs Super Bowl: Who wore community engagement best?
The Oscars and Super Bowl are both major events that capture the attention of the nation. While the Super Bowl is a celebration of football, the Oscars are the culmination and celebration of the year in cinema. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences could learn a thing or two from the NFL about how to make their event even more exciting and engaging to a younger audience, thus allowing the Oscars to carry on the tradition of inspiring art and film lovers.
While the NFL still left much to be desired from this past year’s Super Bowl (see our blog post here), what they do do well is engage the at home audience. At times, it feels like the commercials are saying directly to you. They understand the viewers’ home experience and play on it throughout the game and with various ad spots created by outside agencies. The Academy could build an experience that heightens the showcase of the latest teasers and trailers from networks and studios, or announcements of new video game releases and consoles, or any other product that appeals to four quadrant demos. Instead, we were stuck watching a 60-second spot for Bookings.com.
Entertainment at the Oscars is built in, but not inspiring, even though…Rihanna (again)
The halftime portion of the Super Bowl also invites fans in for an experience they can’t see anywhere else. The Academy’s version of the halftime show is already built into the DNA of the Oscars via the original song category. This year’s nominees list was bubbling with talent, including Lady Gaga, Rhianna, and Lenny Kravitz. It was an opportunity to blow the audience away, bring people together, and cater to a younger generation of viewers, which the Oscars desperately need. Instead of taking the opportunity to engage the community outside of the A-list filled Hollywood theater, it all felt sad and depressing, like we were still mourning the slap from last year’s Oscars or being punished for being at home in our pajamas. The one exception being RRR’s performance, which made me want to stand up and celebrate.
Social Media engagement should be a critical part of Oscar watching
Gone are the days where celebrities sit here and regular people sit over there. Social media (coupled with COVID-19) has brought all us regular people into the living rooms, homes, sets, and cars of celebrities. So why not build on this and continue to build a community of Oscar viewers? Building an Oscar community doesn’t need to take away from the nominees and potential winners of the evening. With nominees like “Top Gun” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” battling for best picture and A-listers like Steven Spielberg, Angela Bassett, and Jamie Lee Curtis trying to nab statuettes, there are incredible stories to tell about the “athletes” of awards season. The Academy could also create an at-home voting or trivia experience, where the general public gets to participate in all awards categories and they market to both older and younger generations. At-home audience involvement is needed in this era of online reviews and consumer engagement.
Social media platforms should also be a vital presence during the telecast. The Academy could pick a fun hashtag, get TikTok on board, and select the best and funniest TikToks to serve as intro and outro breaks out of commercials. Again, The Academy is missing an opportunity to engage a younger audience, who will be the next Oscar loyalists.
Step it up, Oscars –or step on out
The Academy needs to lean into a younger generation in order to preserve the sanctity of this event. But the younger generation won’t watch if they aren’t inspired. The Academy could do this in so many different ways thus creating an event that’s not just for movie industry insiders, but for everyone who loves movies. The Academy needs to start to think about welcoming the next generation and offer experiences that will feel new as the Academy Awards approach their 100th incarnation in 2028. Otherwise, the Oscars are going to die, just like the remaining viewers.