The Oscars Are Becoming Irrelevant—Can Shock Value Keep Them Afloat?


Kristen Catterson, Guest Writer

Following waning interest and low attendance in theaters due to the Covid pandemic, Oscars viewership tanked in 2021, with a mere 10.5 million viewers compared to 2020’s 23.6 million. The viewership in 2023 increased by 12% compared to last year, however numbers are still extremely low, contrary to the rising statistics. 

Past mishaps have kept the Academy of Motion Picture among the headlines, such as the Will Smith slap heard cross the world, or “La La Land” mistakenly being named the winner of Best Picture in 2017. John Travolta mispronounced “Frozen” star Indina Menzel’s name as “Adele Dazeem” in 2014. In 2013, Jennifer Lawrence tripped on the stage’s steps before accepting her award for Best Actress in “Silver Lining’s Playbook.”

These unfortunate incidents have granted the Oscar’s some shock-value every year, reported on for weeks afterwards and replayed thousands, or millions, of times over the internet. Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting this year was full of shallow jokes surrounding Will Smith, most of which seemed to land with the audience less and less each time. 

As Natalie Portman commented at the 2018 Golden Globes, “here are the all-male nominees,” because the Best Director category this year held zero female candidates. Moreover, since Hattie McDaniel’s win in 1939, only twenty-two Black actors have taken home the prize since. Many feel that Jamie Lee Curtis’ Best Supporting Actress win for “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” was not deserved, most of which was clearly written on Angela Basset’s face. While action movies have not taken home many Oscars historically, her performance in Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” following Chadwhick Boseman’s untimely death earned her a spot in the same category. 

However, the Academy has made efforts to be inclusive, celebrating diversity with the multiple wins of “Parasite” in 2020. This year, “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” swept the awards night, taking home a total of seven gold statues. Ke Huy Quan, winner of Best Supporting Actor, gave an emotional acceptance speech, and reunited with Harrison Ford in an energetic hug while running onstage for his Best Picture win. They worked together on the “Indiana Jones” franchise when Quan was only a child. 

While the Oscars may been waning in popularity, and the Academy still has work to do with their inclusion, viewers cannot help but watch for the glitzy fashion, scandalous drama, and feel-good, heartfelt moments that remind us why actors love what they do, and how fulfilling this one night and Hollywood can make someone feel. 

However, I’m not upset that “Elvis” did not take home any awards, as I feel Austin Butler must finally drop his Elvis voice once and for all.