The Oscars

Who cares?

How did America’s go-to awards show, the creme de la creme, lose touch with its audience?

Let’s start with the movies themselves. Not only is the human touch that built Hollywood purveyed now on television, but the fantasy/superhero flicks that are made to play around the world are not honored by the Academy. It’d be like having a kid go to community college but attending graduation at Harvard, the disconnect is palpable.

But the media cannot stop trumpeting the story. You’d think the L.A. “Times” was on the studios’ payroll. But this has been the narrative for the past fifteen years, the media controlled by baby boomers trumpets old paradigms while the youngsters disconnect and then the media itself loses control. It happened in politics and it’s happening in culture. Yesterday the “Wall Street Journal” had a feature on the failure of NASCAR, TV ratings have nearly halved, they’re down 45% in a decade. Wasn’t rednecks driving around in a circle supposed to be the future of sports? But only half of 18 year olds now get a driver’s license and it won’t be long before no one drives themselves at all, but the wankers in Hollywood still think it’s about acquiring status iron, busy tooting around in their Teslas telling us how green they are.

That’s another disconnect. The stars used to be royalty we paid fealty to. Now they’re two-dimensional icons we make fun of. And our country is so divided that when Meryl Streep weighs in on the state of our nation, half the country laughs and refutes her message. How did we get here?

This resembles nothing so much as the youthquake of the sixties, wherein parents lost touch with their children who ultimately took over the culture. And that was a good thing, the late sixties and seventies were not only a heyday for music, they were the last golden era in film, before it became about the blockbuster.

But the dirty little secret is there’s not that much money in film anymore.

Quick, name the heads of the studios! Hell, can you even name the studios themselves?

I doubt it.

But you used to.

Used to be the studio chiefs were lords of Tinseltown. Today that honor goes to Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, whose IPO may be overvalued, but is gonna mint more millionaires than the movie business has in eons.

As for the agencies that fed off the studio system…

They too have detached. CAA and WME are deep into sports. There’s just not that much  money in filmed entertainment these days. Not that we’re so sure about the monetization of YouTube, but we do know there’s something fresh on the Google service that’s missing from filmdom.

Remember when going to the movies was de rigueur?

Remember when you had to go in order to function in the culture, when films were the main topic of conversation amongst your peers?

Now people talk about television. But mostly they talk about themselves, on social media.

As for going to the theatre…

In an on demand culture who wants to show up at an appointed time and overpay to endure twenty minutes of commercials, talking and texting people and crying babies? Certainly not me.

Nobody has seen these flicks. This is like watching the World Series unaware of the teams. Where’s the drama in that, when you’ve got no investment?

No wonder ratings keep sinking.

But people will tune in. To see the dresses, for the spectacle.

Because the truth is in today’s Tower of Babel society we’re looking for unification, we’re looking to connect, be a member of the group. So, if we watch the show we can bitch about it with our friends, be part of the discussion, but this has nothing to do with the movies themselves.

And the show itself is so disconnected from reality that you’ve got to laugh. It’s a mash note to an industry that’s mired in the last century. Sure, there’s nothing like going to see a great movie in a dark theatre, but how many of those are there?

Not many.

The vaunted “La La Land”… Some of the worst buzz on the planet. Rarely does it get a ringing endorsement from the hoi polloi, they shrug their shoulders and say it’s o.k. as Hollywood continues to lose credibility. Because when your must-see is not, it’s hard to get people out for the next flick.

And then there’s the broken business model. Movies think they’re different, that they’re immune. But in an attention economy all the hype is front-loaded for the theatrical release, which few attend, and then months later the VOD and paid streaming releases occur. To tell you the truth, if I could pay and see it right away I’d be much more interested the movies, I’d check more out. Not only is the hype fresh and the desire stoked, it allows me to be part of the conversation, as stated above, it allows me to belong.

But no, that can’t happen. You’ve got to save the business model. Theatres must be protected. EVERYTHING should be day and date, for the health of the industry itself. Steve Jobs moved music into the twenty first century and then Daniel Ek cemented the modern paradigm whereas movies have no solutions whatsoever. It’s not only about the business model, but maintaining pricing, when the truth is most of these flicks are worthless anyway.

We’re hungry for story, we’re hungry for humanity, which Hollywood once specialized in. But the studios jumped the track, because there’s not enough money in not only drama, but comedy. Nobody wants bunts, everybody wants home runs, but the end result is more strikeouts. Come on, look at the grosses on Monday, one flick wins and the rest lose, this is a business?

So I’m flabbergasted when I see endless stories about the host and the parties and the handicapping.

Yes, I cared…


Used to be I went to a party and filled out my ballot, even in the eighties.

The last two years I’ve been on the road and missed all but ten minutes of each program and the truth is I didn’t miss a thing. I felt no loss. There’s no FOMO with the Oscars.

So, they’ll continue to fade away. Because the Academy, the whole industry, does not understand the concept of disruption. Nor Clayton Christensen’s theory that you’ve got to start with a clean sheet of paper, making little money, but then the new enterprise becomes good enough and all the cash ends up there.

Which is what YouTube and social media are all about.

Kids don’t want to be actors on the big screen, they want to be stars on the handset. And they’re very savvy. They know how much PewDiePie makes, and they see him in control of his own destiny as opposed to being bossed around by the man.

There’s your generation gap right there.

Kids don’t care about the Oscars. And this bodes poorly for the show. Kinda like Cadillac, which was eclipsed by not only Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but Lexus, never mind Lincoln, which can’t convince anybody under fifty to buy one.

Sure, this is about the Oscars, but even more this is about our society!

We want it now at a cheap price. We want to participate. We want to share.

And the movie business delivers on none of those desires.

So when you’re sitting at home watching HBO instead, when you turn on the TV the next day and see all the fawning on the morning shows, don’t think you’ve been left out. It’s they who are out of the picture, they who are out of the loop. They’re the last bastions of a dying economy, hawking faded products.

The first decade of this century was about hardware, that’s where the technological breakthroughs were evidenced.

Now it’s about software.

What’s happening on your mobile device is much more exciting, much more riveting than anything that’s happening in the theatre.

You can see it.

But Hollywood and the media are blind.

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