The Oscars

This is what happens when money supersedes art.

The problem with the film business is it doesn’t realize time has already passed it by, that the paradigm it claims to operate under has expired.

This is a business story. Smart business people get ahead of the audience. That’s the wisdom of Spotify…give people what they don’t even understand and then drive them to it, converting them and making them smile along the way. Believe me, the audience loves music streaming, subscriber numbers keep going up as do the revenues of the rights holders.

Not that music is the correct paradigm when it comes to art.

The goal in music is to become a brand. To sell, sell, sell, as if tomorrow never comes. But it does.

We have a crisis of credibility in this country. And it starts at the top and goes all the way down. Yes, the elected officials lie, to the point where no one believes anybody, and then the hoi polloi follow in their wake.

In the late sixties and seventies you went to the movies to find out what was happening. The same way you listened to the radio. Both of those models expired. “Jaws” and “Star Wars” killed the movie business. It became about opportunity cost. Why bother making a ten million dollar flick that might gross thirty million when you could invest a hundred million and make a billion! They’ve got a machine, and it’s not built for bunts, but home runs. And that became the film busines, home runs.

Not that the filmmakers themselves wanted to admit this. Which is why every year films are nominated that few have seen. They don’t want to admit they’re purveying mindless crap. Furthermore, a lot of what is labeled great is not. Have you seen “Mank”? Good look, not much there. But with enough publicity and advertising Netflix has swayed the minds of the ancient Academy members, who don’t want to be unique, they’re the ultimate herd animals, Harvey Weinstein started this paradigm, and look where it took him.

As for “musicians”… Told by their more experienced handlers that selling out has no negative effects, they do this constantly. Never mind the sponsorships, the products, even music related merch is way over the top. One act has put out seventeen versions of the same album!

“Superfans’ Message to Taylor Swift, BTS and Other Music Superstars” Enough With the Deluxe Albums and Pricey Merch”:

But no one can say no in today’s marketplace, if it generates a dollar…LET’S DO IT!

But not the fans in the above article, they’ve reached their limit, they feel ripped off.

So, the problem with the Oscars is it used to be a celebration of the world’s number one art form and those involved in the making thereof. First and foremost, movies are far from the world’s number one art form today. At best it’s television, but really it’s about individuals online, from YouTube to TikTok to Instagram…. I know, I know, if you’re over fifty you pooh-pooh these platforms, but that just demonstrates you’re out of the loop!

You see the ethos of creations online are about identity first, money second. Come on, those cosmetic queens raking in all the bucks? It’s their personality that drives their success. Same deal with all of the successful “influencers”…they’re selling themselves, and what you see is what you get. Sure, there are people falsely burnishing their images, but the audience is aware of this, and they are negatively impacted by this. But all this is to say that we used to look up to actors, now we don’t at all. They play a role. When they go online…they’re two-dimensional, oftentimes out of touch, no one cares what they’ve got to say, they’re empty vessels. As for what they wear? They’re mannequins for designers!

If you looked at the news today, you were flooded with stories about the expectation of horribly low Oscar ratings. And that’s the truth, but no one inside seems to address why. Never mind changing. Not to mention that when you put the political cart in front of the horse, you lose people’s attention. Should there be more people of color involved in filmmaking? Of course, but when that story supersedes the films themselves the audience shrugs and moves on. One could also chastise the Academy for not taking preemptive action, but that’s the issue here to begin with…how do you give out awards and have people care?

One thing about movies…they’re a lousy viewing experience. I know, I know, you love the movies, but today…visual entertainment is all about long form story, that’s what resonates. In a world of hit and run, with too much incoming, people want to dig deep. A film is ninety minutes or two hours, that’s just not long enough. It’s one date, when the audience is looking for a relationship. And the studios know this, they’re all making TV series, but the Academy and its members? They’re completely blind, operating under the specious axiom that today’s generation has a short attention span. No, they’ve just got an incredible shit detector! This is what on demand culture delivers, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to experience it. As for telling someone they need to invest the time, they don’t trust a single purveyor, they wait to hear it from their friends. And the purveyors don’t even understand word of mouth, dripping out TV episodes week by week. Give the film business credit for realizing this is a flawed method of distribution. The movie business used to platform their flicks, rolling them out over time. Now they dump thousands of prints the first weekend, hoping to get the audience caught up in the excitement before it moves on. A month later? Almost no flick generates that kind of interest/heat. You only get one bite at the apple these days, make it a big one, open your mouth wide and take a chunk.

So if we go back to the Oscars, and why the ratings will tank…

Everyone hates commercials.

If anything worth seeing happens you’ll find out later online and watch it online.

The show experience sucks. Three plus half hours wasting your time.

Of course there are solutions to all these problems, they just don’t come with a big advance check from NBC.

YouTube could sponsor Best Picture. Yup, make it a fifteen minute show, which will play forever online and continue to generate revenue.

Not only do you use the modern methods online, you create new ones…but instead we see the same damn television show every year. Come on, is anybody gonna really sit through the songs without switching the channel? At this point they’re almost never hits.

And the Oscars is a club that the public can’t join, and that means people reject it. You’ve got to make people feel like they belong today, that they own it, or they’re out.

As for the non-comic book movies, the foreign jobs, the indies, only boomers go to see them, they’re the only ones who remember when films meant something, when they said something, when they pushed the envelope. Youngsters don’t even have this habit! Never mind the price is insane. Come on, ten to fifteen dollars for one good song on a CD… As soon as the public got a chance to just get the one they wanted, albums crashed, whether it be via Napster, iTunes or Spotify. Fifteen bucks for a movie? It’d better be an extravaganza, otherwise it’s seen as a rip-off.

So Hollywood sells extravaganzas and wants us to focus on the small pictures… Huh?

And it’s true, younger generations will go to see the extravaganzas in theatres, it’s a tribal rite, with their friends, away from their parents. As for the parents… I haven’t had one person tell me they saw a movie in a theatre that I must see in YEARS! Most boomers don’t go to the movie theatre at all. So why would you expect them to tune into the Oscar telecast?

Yes, it’s positively stunning that twenty years after Napster, the Academy still believes nothing has changed. Same damn categories, same damn three plus hour show. The only people who consume that way are the boomers who haven’t seen the movies to begin with, so they don’t really care, as for the youngsters? They never cared, never mind there being a new awards show every two weeks with none of the trophies having gravitas.

Yes, that’s the irony, we tell everybody that it’s all about money, but one night a year we’re supposed to believe it’s about art. Once again, HUH? That’s kind of like telling Democrats to trust Trump on one specific night, that he’s gonna tone down the rhetoric and speak truth…THEY’D NEVER BELIEVE IT!

As for the canard that people are tuning out because of politics… Don’t cower to the misinformation. This is what they want, for you to be quiet and stay out of the fray. Didn’t hurt ratings when Marlon Brando did it, nor Michael Moore, why should it now? Then again, those two were seen as thinkers… Today’s winners? Not so much. As evidenced by the classic Gal Gadot “Imagine” video… If you fly private and live behind a gate and are busy being fabulous hanging at bars and restaurants and vacationing on islands how in the hell would you know what resonates with the public at large…YOU DON’T!

So, of course you can appeal to hedonism, whiz-bang, which is what superhero movies are. But there’s no hedonism in the Oscar telecast. And all these smiling faces have been revealed to be heinous under the skin, whether it be Ellen DeGeneres or Scott Rudin. Yes, scratch someone in Hollywood and you’ll find out they’re a phony.

If you want hearts and minds, a great film by the way, today you must be honest and credible and erudite. You need a college degree to get a job as a receptionist, as for the high school dropouts in flicks, why should we respect them? And inherently, actors fall to the bottom, because they’re playing a role. Hell, look at Dave Chappelle…he’s always talking as himself tackling the big issues, it’s a far cry from Alan King.

Biden wakes up and the Academy is asleep?

Biden learned that the Republicans don’t want to negotiate, that bipartisanship is a joke. So, he legislates without them and the public loves the results! Don’t talk to me about the next election, it takes a long time to turn the ship around, but that does not mean you shouldn’t start. The usual suspect generals tell Biden we must stay in Afghanistan, but he says no. Biden is not in a bubble, he sees the story from the outside.

Not that Joe is perfect, but he wasn’t my candidate and now I love him, makes me wonder if Warren or Sanders could have even made this much headway. You start by leading, as opposed to bitching that your cheese has been moved. Everything is up for grabs, and if it’s not, you’re gonna be history.

The Oscars are like tech. What you did yesterday doesn’t count, it’s all about today. As for the king of tech, Steve Jobs, he was famous for being ahead of the curve.. Scrapping everything but USB ports…and Apple got rid of the iPhone headphone jack a couple of years back. The oldsters bitched! But everybody adjusted, because the truth is Bluetooth rules. Come on, the same people who complained about the lack of a headphone jack are the same ones who now rush to buy the latest iteration of AirPods. As for Apple’s competitors, they all jettisoned the headphone jack too!

But where is the Academy and its Oscars leading? I can’t think of one damn avenue. As for reinventing the show, like Ben Winston did with the Grammys, the problem isn’t so much what is on screen, but the whole enterprise!

Come on, do you think most people want to watch these self-congratulatory mercenary wanker “musicians”? It’s not the sixties, most people have never even heard their music. As for the noise from their stans… IGNORE IT! That’s the modern paradigm, if people are hating on you you’re doing it right, they’ve got so much other stuff to hate, and if you can’t take the slings and arrows, get out of the job. Meanwhile, actors keep crossing the line and then apologizing and going to rehab. Where in the real world does that work, where the average citizen can’t even afford rehab! And it seems there’s rehab for everything these days, do dogs and cats go to Betty Ford for a month if they poo inside? It’s laughable, no one believes it. And Hollywood is so busy crying foul on each other that the game is more interesting than the movies, it’s hysterical how blind the talent is. Musicians know that everybody has a camera, so they curb their behavior on the road, they don’t act like they did in the pre-internet era. But somehow Hollywood thinks it’s immune? Talk about being in a bubble!

So there’s a lot to complain about.

But here we’re looking for solutions. Gradual change is out the window, especially when you’re decades behind. The Grammys hire a woman and then bitch she moved too fast. Tell that to a woman in regular life, the blowback will leave you scorched. Finally women have someone to identify with in the Grammy game, and they disrespect and fire her, and make up bogus offenses to bolster their case, not much different from telling a woman she deserves to be raped because of the clothes she wears, or that it’s her word versus her boss’s, and therefore the boss stays.

Entertainment used to be a leader, now it’s a follower. Come on, not only did the record companies miss Napster, the movie studios missed Netflix! They didn’t create it, and then made so much money licensing to the outfit that they built it into a juggernaut. Then again, no one in Hollywood is an owner anymore, they’re just short-termers looking to make their bonus. That’s a recipe for disaster. Which is what we have!

There are only twenty four hours in a day, and we’re all overloaded with stimulation choices. You must prove your worth, and then earn it every damn day.

And you don’t earn it in the newspaper. Come on, who doesn’t laugh at all those full page ads in the New York and Los Angeles “Times” at this time of year? What a waste of money. It’s a circle jerk, and we know!

For far too long those in entertainment have been overpaid for the amount of capital they generate, have been self-anointed stars, and then the curtain was lifted and everybody saw the truth yet these emperors believe they’re still wearing clothes.

They’re not!

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