...In the age of reality TV where people are much more invested in the outcome of American Idol than they will ever be in the Oscar race, the AMPAS is still lagging woefully behind the times. Their majority is a cloistered, pampered, out of touch group who look at the screeners in front of them and simply pick what they “liked” best. They aren’t all that different from the American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance public — except that at least with those shows? There are judges who [are] kind of shaping public opinion, trying to educate the audience on what a good singer is, what a good dancer is. With the AMPAS there is no discussion. There is merely an anonymous vote by people who do not seem to care about what defines a best picture.So the big news last week involved the Academy's decision to shift to a new Oscar voting system in which anywhere from five to ten movies can get nominated for Best Picture. The more I think about it, the more honest this seems. No longer will the Academy have to struggle to come up with ten Best Picture candidates - which they probably do, if it's a challenge to get them to sit down in front of a bunch of screeners to begin with.
What bothers me about this is the fact that the Academy still feels the need to tinker with what should be a simple process. And why? Because fewer people seem to care about the Oscar show itself - and why should they? Long weeks of precursor awards drain all the suspense out of the Oscars themselves (who didn't think that Colin Firth was gonna win Best Actor after all the other awards he racked up?), the show itself contains too much canned material and almost never allows for a flicker of spontaneity, and recent attempts to appeal to a younger, hipper demographic have floundered miserably.
Making the Oscars more like the Tonys isn't a bad idea, if people could get past the notion that the Oscar show is a Sacred Institution that must not be tampered with too much. I do not watch American Idol or any of those competition reality shows (and never will), but even I can't deny the astonishing impact shows like that have had within the past decade or so. It seems to me that if the Academy wants the Oscar show to be meaningful again, they should perhaps look at what those shows are doing.
No, the Oscars are not a true indicator of quality, regrettably, but as long as the prestige and honor that comes from winning an Oscar remains, people will still care about it one way or another.