Topic: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

Folks, shit's hilarious.

I have plenty of thoughts on this front myself, and I'm sure I'll end up sharing 'em. (In the meantime, no time.)

Here are a few jumping-off points — feel free to reply to all of 'em, or one of 'em, or none. Whatevs. Just dive in.

In your opinion...

  • What are the Oscars for? (What is the nature of the event?) (Can we find anything 'better' for it to be about?)

  • Who are the Oscars for? (What is the nature of the audience/benefactory?) (Can we find a 'better' audience?)

  • What is absolutely necessary to include?

  • What is absolutely necessary to change or remove?

  • What would be slightly better than this?

  • What would be way better than this?

  • What's a crazy idea that you know would never work in a million years, but it's fun to consider?

  • What would be a huge mistake?

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

  • Re: what are the Oscars for? In theory, to recognize the filmmaking achievements of the year and award honors based on a jury of one's peers. In practice, to form an increasingly tasteless gathering of Big Names and hand out awards based largely on ignorance rather than excellence (Moonlight's Best Picture win notwithstanding).

  • Re: who are the Oscars for? In theory, hardworking members of the industry and cinephiles everywhere who want to see craft rewarded. In practice, a "general" audience that no one seems to know how to define but who they're desperately trying to appeal to with increasingly bad skits and programming decisions. (In terms of a "better" audience, I'm all for making it more inclusive but not in the "let's only focus on the big names" approach. It's a celebration of the craft, so explain the craft. Show the people tuning in who only watch big blockbusters every year what's so awesome about editing. Make them want to watch the indies that got nominated. Open a gateway to a larger world.)

  • Re: what is absolutely necessary to include—besides the presentation of awards, we absolutely need to keep the cheesy montages about the magic of movies. They're a reminder of what this is all about, or what it should be all about. (Tell me you watched this without feeling your heart swell. I dare you.)

  • Re: what is absolutely necessary to change or remove—the ridiculous hours of pregame that's nothing more than commenting on people's outfits on the red carpet. It's always been tacky and a timesink but it's even less justifiable now that they're cutting categories in the name of "saving time."

  • Re: what would be slightly better than this—ditch it as a television event entirely, make it a livestream with ads running in constant banners below the window rather than in several-minute chunks.

  • Re: what would be way better than this—stealing the idea from Reddit, the host each year should absolutely be the Muppets.

  • Re: crazy idea that would never work in a million years—fuck it, let's make this an all-night thing, a bastardization of Election Night. Professional commentators on TV networks, votes coming in live from around the nation (mostly LA, cuz it's the Academy, but whatevs). This is already inside baseball that a lot of the country doesn't care about, let's lean the fuck into that and get 538-y with it. (Yes, this contradicts my "Let's make it a learning experience!" thing above. I contain multitudes.)

  • Re: what would be a huge mistake—continuing to let Disney broadcast the ceremony once their contract is up.

Last edited by Abbie (2019-02-12 16:07:36)

Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

(This reply isn't happening because Teague is hard at work.)

Abbie wrote:

(In terms of a "better" audience, I'm all for making it more inclusive but not in the "let's only focus on the big names" approach. It's a celebration of the craft, so explain the craft. Show the people tuning in who only watch big blockbusters every year what's so awesome about editing. Make them want to watch the indies that got nominated. Open a gateway to a larger world.)

Fuckin' church, sister.

Abbie wrote:

(In terms of a "better" audience, I'm all for making it more inclusive but not in the "let's only focus on the big names" approach. It's a celebration of the craft, so explain the craft. Show the people tuning in who only watch big blockbusters every year what's so awesome about editing. Make them want to watch the indies that got nominated. Open a gateway to a larger world.)

I'm off for a quick walk to the corner store, and this exact shit is all I will be thinking about. So fun.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

Corollary to the above: I don't know how to enforce this, but you cannot vote in a category unless you have seen all the nominees in that category. Full stop.

Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

Short version, everything wrong with the Oscars results from them becoming a big TV ratings monster and thus a commercial sales monster.  Everything bad about the Oscars is in there because it's better for ratings, or is believed to be.

So, the radical idea that will never happen is - stop airing the ceremony live.  Remove the ABC-contractually-mandated need to hit a specific running time, and all the other hoops that are being jumped through because the network demands it.

Side note: the demand for a specific runtime is the impetus for this year's test case of pre-taping four of the awards so a tighter version - without so much walking - can be aired later in the show. 

That's all that's happening.  No awards are being skipped, that's nonsense.  The President of the Academy is a gorram DP, they're gonna air the Cinematography acceptance speech. 

They never weren't going to, either.  In fact, the four categories in the test case volunteered to be the ones to try it.   Then somebody misread an internal membership letter and the internet pooped its dipies.


The answer to all problems is stream the show.  Forget any attempt to keep it tight.  Go the other way.
Let acceptance speeches be ten minutes long again. Do all the songs.  Hell, do them twice.  Put three martinis into Jim Carrey and just let him have the stage for a while.  People who love movies can watch that version. 


edit all that into a nice tight three-hour package for ABC to air a bit later, and to sell umpteen commercials for. Sure, the element of "who will win?" is lost, but all the banter and celebs and gowns and jewelry are included, for the folks who were never gonna watch Life of Pi and will never care about the diff between "Sound Mixing" and "Sound Editing" anyway.

Unfortunately the Academy's deal at ABC has years to go before they could potentially jump to a new platform, so nothing's likely to change anytime soon.  Until then, remember that The Oscars is an ABC television show, and the Academy are merely its showrunners. They can fight and even win some battles, but in the end, the network is the boss. And for every question about network tv that begins with "Why did they _____?", the answer is always "Money."

I mean, you didn't think the Academy wanted to add that category for "Movie that was really popular", did ya?  That's as classic a network note as ever there was.

Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

(Damn, Trey — that was an awesome post.)

In your opinion...

What are the Oscars for?

Well, here's what they should be for: "celebrating the best of 'movies,' annually."

(What they are for is: "congratulating the best of movies — and The Oscars — annually.")

The verb is what matters. "Celebrating." Much to Abbie's point, I see The Oscars as a (golden? mm?) opportunity for the film industry to generate enthusiasm, rather than reflect it — a 'teaching moment,' so to speak.

There's all kinds of ways to implement a 'teaching-to-celebrate' philosophy like this, and I originally intended to write a few of them down, and then continue to write down answers for all of the other green prompts, and... generally... just, really type some stuff, you know?

Unfortunately, I can't do all that typing right now, because I've gotta get to work. I'll be back later.

For now, here's one thing that comes to mind:


Given that 'The Process of The Oscars' is completely fucking opaque to most people, I find the additional complete lack-of-"why" particularly bizarre. During the proceedings, there's nothing said about 'why [this] movie is the winner,' either in terms of procedure or merit: people generally don't know how the selections are made, and nobody ever knows why a winner is the winner.

...and yet, all things considered, nobody is wondering whether that's a pretty weird ask, for the modern generation. (Of audiences, media environments, attention-spendings, etc.)

The Plebians wrote:

I mean, y'all the experts, and y'all assuring us that [this] is the best movie of the year. That seems pretty definitive, so... I was just wondering if you're able to describe what's so good about it? (After all, it's not like I'm not asking you to provide a consensus review of every movie of the year, or asking you to put every movie in 'rank-order' — I would never ask that; that's nuts — but, you're going out of your way to say that this one movie is the best movie of the year, under the auspices of elitism and expertise. I trust those auspices, and I believe in your expertise. As a plebian, I'm bought and sold. I want to learn from your greatness. We all do. And everyone benefits — the culture, the market, the audience; most of all, you — from a culture of sophisticated movie-goers. (Right? Or did you want to start inviting Marvel? Pick a position.) You want a culture that loves film — like, just can't get enough of it. Right? You should be more incentivized than anybody to prefer an institution of The Oscars which slowly, evolutionarily, culturally, descriptively generates an explicit consensus of 'taste.' Not only is that better for you, but... how could you possibly have more control over the audience? Propagandize us with the grammar of your stupid art form! We'll watch anything that's fun! You can just make us into the audience you want us to be... by telling us why we should like what you say... by telling us why you are saying it. Surely you can... right? Surely this isn't just an annual poll of ignorant illuminati members... right? Surely there is reasoning... right?)

Forget the part where you're trying to figure out how we even could arrive at a 'consensus answer' to the 'why' question — this is not difficult; the answer is 'change everything' — and instead, focus on what would slowly become different about The Oscars... and 'the movies,' and 'the audiences,' and 'the industry,' and 'The Oscars'... if a primary aspect of The Oscars became 'learning to understand what it is about Oscar-winning movies that makes them Oscar-winning movies,' year after year, in a fun way.

Learning how to think about movies — and why.

(Sidebar: Ask someone on the street 'what makes a haiku a haiku?,' and then ask them 'what makes an Oscar-winning-movie an Oscar-winning-movie?' They know that poems 'are important,' and they know that Oscar-winning movies 'are important,' but they don't particularly get either one of them, and their primary evaluation of the subject is merely that it 'feels' 'important' — and yet, they know something about why a haiku is a haiku: the 5-7-5 grammar. These people are already enjoying 'songs' — that is: <things-like-poems>, which follow grammars they already ('inherently') understand — and knowing 'the particular rules of haiku' doesn't seem to be destroying their ability to enjoy songs as an evaluatively-distinct expressive art form. Here's the question: Does [knowing-haiku-grammar] limit the scope of what they're already enjoying, or does it equip them to enjoy something new that they didn't previously understand at all? Movies are songs; Oscar-winning movies are haikus. Teaching people 'how to evaluate' [this-kind-of-thing] isn't going to prevent them from enjoying [that-kind-of-thing] — people who like haikus still like songs — and yet, it solves the problem of "nobody watches The Oscars because nobody in the audience cares about 'Oscar-type' movies," by addressing the fundamental problem of The Oscars: Why would they care about 'The Reader?' Why does the Academy care about 'The Reader?' Why?)

Imagine what would be different if The Oscars had to justify themselves — in gold ink. If they had to write down (and account for) the decisions being handed down by the group, every year — before god and history — such that, as a matter of course, the group's behavior includes total awareness of the most-likely 'reasoning' that history will assign to their vote. Over time, this built-in 'write-down-why' mechanism would foment consistency (that is: 'consensus of grammar'; descriptively, evolvingly), and through the [better-late-than-never] introduction of year-over-year consistency — even evolving consistency — the 'legitimate' wins would slowly accumulate actual cultural accountability and weight, and the bullshitty/'corrupt' wins [for lack of a better word] would slowly accumulate a degree of objective falsifiability.

Why? Because now we know what The Academy has said about why other movies deserved Oscars.

Under this arrangement, if — for example; god forbid — the Academy's actual <reasoning-for-why-they-chose-[this]-movie> is out of line with <the-[consensus]-reasoning-for-why-movies-should-be-chosen>, they're forced to lie about their actual reasoning and invent 'winning' arguments for that movie under the consensus rubric — arguments anybody can check; arguments which will become increasingly preposterous in an environment wherein the audience is becoming increasingly educated (and sophisticated) about <the-reasons-why-movies-should-or-should-not-get-Oscars>.

The system we have now is — essentially — a 'Supreme Court' metaphor, without any of the usual ability for the outside world to learn the opinions or arguments of the court. Combine this observation with the fact that what-they're-'ruling-on' is — essentially — haiku; a form of expression that's adjacent-to-but-not-representative-of something that the general audience actually... you know. Likes.

"Why should we care about The Oscars?"

"You love movies!"

"Not those movies."

"You love movie stars!"

"As in, 'actors that purchase my ticket?' Name an inarguable movie star under the age of fifty."

"Will Smith."

"1) That's one. 2) Will Smith hasn't purchased my ticket since Men in Black. 3) Will Smith is fifty."

"Chris Pratt."

"You think I'm purchasing movie tickets for the chance to see the guy from 'Parks and Rec' on Netflix?"



"...Tom Cruise?"

"No. The world changed. Individual people aren't so universally special and unattainably out-of-reach that people pay to see them in a movie theater anymore. The world requires fewer famous people for that."

"Fine. They should care because we're the expert class."

[*cut to: 'the public'; atomized into a cacophony of bi-spectral populist voices who reject 'the experts'*]

"...well, they shouldn't be doing that."

"They are doing that. They're all doing that."

"...well, maybe in Alabama or something, with regards to climate experts, but..."

"It's late-stage capitalist individualism. It's happening everywhere in the Western world."

"...well, not on this coast."

"1) Good luck foisting vaccines and GMOs onto 'this coast.' 2) Since when is your audience 'this coast?'"

"Well the audience should go back to how it was! And so should movies — and individualism!"


"You're the one saying we should just, like... foist a centralized rubric of conensus on people!"

"No: What I'm saying is if you aren't more transparent about your decision-making — and in effect, your whole fucking field — you shouldn't expect modern audiences to sustain the dynamics of previous audiences simply out of respect for you. No generation of the public owes you 'caring about serious movies' — and, moreover, this generation of the public can barely manage to sit quietly for ten seconds without pulling out their phone. You just want them to keep tuning in to watch you congratulate types of movies (and people) that they don't know, understand, or care about... without needing to go to the trouble of explaining why? You just want them to naturally know, and understand, and care about this shit you care about... without being taught what you even see in it? Who the fuck do you think you are? (What-the-fuck decade do you think this is, Mr. Fucking Marconi?) You're not allowed to expect everyone else to care, and get indignant when they don't. They don't just owe you their interest, and you're not putting any effort into sustaining what little interest they have left, much less are you putting any effort into sustaining their attention, which — especially for you: the four-hour sermon competing in a Candy Crush world — is rapidly becoming something you can't even compete with, much less afford. You should be wildly, wildly worried about this."

"And react by... what? Dictating what makes movies 'good'?"

"By describing what makes a movie good, one year — and another movie, the next year."

"What if it changes?"

"Why wouldn't it?"

"I... — ...uh."

"I'm not trying to trap you; I'm trying to save you. Re-assess modern audiences. Re-assess your goals."

"Nothing in the outside world has changed at all, and the system has always worked perfectly."

" just keep thinkin,' Butch."

The Academy is the Supreme Court, handing-down totally-opaque, culturally-binding 'rulings' on... haiku. The Oscars are a congratulation; they should be a celebration. The night shouldn't be 'for' the winners, at all — ultimately, it should be 'for' the audience. (Or you can stop fucking televising it and just give up.) This changeover can manifest itself in a fuckjillion different ways, but they all start with the same general assumption: that The Oscars should be trying, in earnest, to keep their own cultural legacy alive and vital for each new generation; that they are not; and that this is finally becoming a real problem.

How might I approach a solution to it?

By making it fun to watch The Oscars, by making The Oscars make movies fun to watch.


Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

"Unfortunately, I can't do all that typing right now."

*proceeds to write an entire manifesto*

Never change, Teague. Also, orsonwelles.gif

Last edited by Abbie (2019-02-13 20:06:52)

Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

Quite the read. I'll pitch Jason Momoa as a movie star that bought my ticket to Aquaman which I otherwise wouldn't have cared about, but that's picking nits. Well written and reasoned, and I hope to see answers to the other green prompts in time.

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

You can pretty neatly fit literally anything into that argument.  I need this on an OC Choppers meem in little tiny text STAT. 

EDIT: Or replacing the Obi-wan/Anakin dialog from the opening of ROTS.

Last edited by bgii2000 (Today 02:33:04)

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Re: Let's Re-Invent The Oscars

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, an opinion columnist floats the idea of outlawing 'thanking' during speeches.

"Congratulations, winner! Go get your statue and give some kind of speech — but you may not thank anybody."

I kind of like it, to be honest.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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