(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."
"1) That's one. 2) Will Smith hasn't purchased my ticket since Men in Black. 3) Will Smith is fifty."
"You think I'm purchasing movie tickets for the chance to see the guy from 'Parks and Rec' on Netflix?"
"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."
"...you 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.
I have a tendency to fix your typos.