WTF: Oscar Ratings

oscar-swinton.jpgBy now, amid all the stories of Brad Renfro being left out of the dead folks tribute and David Bowie winning the award for Best Supporting Actress, you have heard the news that the viewership for this year’s Oscars was at an all-time low.

I’m not saying that fewer people watched this Oscars telecast than ever in the history of the universe, but the numbers were released that it was the lowest ratings since the modern rating system began in the 1970s.

The numbers of a paltry 29.16 viewers left the Academy and the folks at Nielsen’s saying the simple phrase, “What the fuck?”

Of course, as early as Monday, people were scrambling to spin this and explain why no one seems to care about the ceremonies, even though it was a huge bargaining chip in the settlement of the WGA strike.

To me, it is clear. And it’s not the lame excuse you hear all too often that too many movies that no one has seen were up for awards. After all, this is a higher rating than when Chariots of Fire won the Best Picture award, and no one saw that film at all. (Also, aside from the freak factor, I don’t think the numbers would have been any better if Spider-Man 3, Transformers, Shrek 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End had been vying for Best Picture with Juno.)

The bottom line is that the American public is bored with the Oscars. It’s painfully self-congratulatory, it’s long-winded and its loaded with a ton of crap that no one cares about. I mean, do we really need an instructional video in the middle of the ceremonies on how Price-Waterhouse counts the ballots? I’ve seen more innovative short films about people puking on YouTube.

Apparently, the viewers for the first hour of the show were 32.27 million people. However, by the last hour, the numbers had dropped by almost 7 million – more than 20 percent.

oscar-cotillard.jpgI think people took one look at the opening CGI segment and the immediate tributes to montages in the first part of the ceremonies and turned it off. After all, why slag through a four-hour telecast when you can do something more interesting (like trim your toenails and pick your nose) while checking the real-time winners on any number of Internet sites?

With plummeting ratings over the last ten or fifteen years, Hollywood still hasn’t gotten it. They have no idea how to check their egos at the door and make an interesting ceremony.

Here’s my recipe for a 100 million viewer Oscar night, folks. First, cut all the crap, like the montages, retrospectives and 10-minute speeches from 98-year-old men. Make the show an hour and blast through the categories with only a slight pause to allow for acceptance speeches.

Then, get a bat-shit crazy host. Jon Stewart was cool, but imagine how awesome it would be with Gary Busey or Andy Dick as the host. The show would seriously deteriorate into brilliant chaos with the host grabbing Marion Cotillard’s breasts and challenging Jack Nicholson to a drinking game on stage.

If only…

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Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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