For some inexplicable reason, criticism – actual criticism – has mostly vanished in the mainstream when it comes to the Oscars. It seems as though the only prominent critic of the Oscars who remains unafraid of Twitter is Bill Maher.
This has only gotten worse in the past four years as we’ve become more and more sucked into a climate of fear than we ever have been since probably the 1950s. Most people understand there is a problem with the Oscars. Depending on their politics and their agenda, their answers for fixing them will vary.
But Bill Maher did not get the memo is that criticizing the Oscars is not really done in the mainstream and he seems to be frequently doing so. He says what he thinks, Twitter gets mad and everyone goes back to their corner. It has gone on this way for a few months, though it doesn’t appear to me that anyone in the industry plans on changing anything. I imagine they want to be thought of as good people and that continues to supersede everything else.
Back in April, the Wall Street Journal noticed Bill Maher’s criticism and compiled this video, which, at least in my experience, seems to echo what almost everyone I talk to outside the bubble of Film Twitter, thinks about the Oscars now. And this is true across the board. The Oscars have never been as insular as they are right now.
Naming the problem is difficult but not impossible. Bill Maher’s main criticisms vary between saying they only nominate downer movies, or obscure movies, or movies about themselves. He thinks they’ve “gone woke,” like almost everything else, and that is a problem.
In the past, there would be stories everywhere about the problem the Oscars now have in terms of attracting audiences to their show and to the movies they honor. It’s been this way for a while now, where the Oscars are in danger of becoming like the Tonys – an awards show that confuses anyone not inside that particular industry bubble.
Three years ago, Neil Patrick Harris named the problem as both the Oscars being just one in a long series of awards that exhausts audiences by the end, and the problem of ten nominees. He suggests splitting up Best Picture into two categories – Blockbuster and independent.
Bill Maher seems to be particularly invested in “fixing” the Oscars. Or at least he can plainly see the problem with them. Or at least he has the courage to speak out against the status quo, which is not easy to do. That has made him a target of Film and Oscar twitter, where the reaction to his criticisms is outrage and disgust.
But problems can’t solve themselves. Without people willing to discuss problems that are plainly visible to any person with a thinking brain who isn’t part of Twitter, we can’t even name the problem, let alone solve it.
Here are all of Bill Maher’s Oscar videos:
And here are the Oscar Experts criticizing Bill Maher:
If the ultimate goal is to make the Oscars more populist and less insular the best way to get there is for the entire industry that covers the Oscars to broaden their perspective of what an “Oscar movie” actually is. What does that mean now, in 2021? What is the future of the awards?
If the ultimate goal is to boost the ratings I think they should avoid politics at all costs. AT ALL COSTS. But if the goal is to do nothing, to simply treat the Oscars as you would the passengers in First Class. They are treated differently and most ignored by those in Coach.
The truth is, I don’t know how to solve the problem of the Oscars. I just know that in my tiny corner of the universe it is still important to at least try to tell some kind of honest truth about what is happening.
So what do you think? Is there a problem? Can that problem be solved? Does anyone care what Bill Maher thinks?