The Oscars were on this week, or so I’m told. I quit watching the Academy Awards presentation a long time ago. There was a time when I really enjoyed Oscar Night, too. I have always liked going to the movies — ever since the days that Foy Harper wielded an iron flashlight and patrolled the pews of the Strand Theater, taking seriously his duty of shushing every teen that dared speak while patrons were enjoying the movie they had paid 50 cents to see.
Back in the day I had not seen most of the films that were up for awards, but it didn’t matter. Television brought the glitz and glamour of Hollywood right into my little mill village living room, and Bob Hope, himself, served as master of ceremonies and made sure that everyone behaved themselves and showed respect to the people who paid for their lavish lifestyles — those of us watching at home.
After Bob Hope lost interest, we had Johnny Carson who was to late night television what Joe DiMaggio was to baseball — talent and class personified — and then Billy Crystal, who is one of the funniest and most cerebral stars I have ever known.
Yes, Oscar Night was a big deal for me for a long, long time. But not anymore.
I don’t know when the change came, but it’s like the Democratic Party. I didn’t leave them. They left me. All of a sudden, the presentations weren’t about honoring those who had done outstanding work in the film industry over the course of a year. It was about a bunch of over-indulged, spoiled, wealthy whelps who had forgotten their raisings, patting themselves on the back and whining about who didn’t get included as much as they were celebrating who did. And then, somewhere along the line, they became mistaken that we, the people who watch their movies, gave 2 cents about their political views.
That sound you heard when that happened was televisions changing to something — anything — besides the Oscars.
You don’t have to take my word for it, either. They keep records on such. Viewership has declined steadily since 2014 and reached an all-time low this past Sunday night with 3 million fewer viewers than the previous low.
Inquiring minds — at least, my mind — wanted to know why Hollywood thought people were dissing their big night. I did some research on the subject. I read what the industry experts said. They were shoveling a lot of fiddle-faddle about demographics and underrepresented minorities and lack of star power and the fact that The Academy has become staid and snobbish and refuses to appreciate or recognize mainstream blockbuster hits.
There might be an ounce of truth in that last statement. I read that the Best Picture winner this year was a foreign film with English subtitles. I haven’t watched one of those since I snuck into the 10th Street Art Theater on Peachtree Street to watch Teeny Tulip in 1968. I won’t say who I was with, but you know who you are.
But that’s not the real reason that the masses have tuned out Hollywood. The real reason is that we, the people, are sick and tired of hypocritical celebrities, from professional athletes to late night talk show hosts to so-called movie stars, telling us how we should think and bad-mouthing our country, our way of life, and, yes — the president of the United States.
I think the NFL has learned a little bit of a lesson, judging from the recent Super Bowl pre-game show that was long on Patriotism and short on cop bashing. They did take a step backward with one 30-second ad — but for the most part it was a good night on Super Sunday.
Now it will be interesting to see if all those people who obviously think they are always the smartest ones in the room can actually be smart enough to examine themselves and go back to just making movies. They are supposed to be good at acting. Well here’s some advice. Act like somebody. Act like you’ve got some common sense. Act like your mama raised you right.
You stick with entertaining and let everybody else stick to believing what they choose to believe and maybe we can make up and someone will watch your silly self-serving award show again.
Until then, not likely, pilgrims.