You don’t need to glance at the ratings to realize awards shows are in big trouble.
Think existential threat level, and that’s not hyperbole.
The ratings, of course, suggest the problem is widespread and getting worse. The recent Golden Globes telecast plummeted 64 percent from the previous year, while the Grammy awards, held March 14, crashed nearly 53 percent from 2020’s telecast.
We’re already seeing stories predicting the same fate will befall the Oscars, set for April 25. Would anyone bet against it?
Those numbers are part of a steady viewership decline across all major awards shows in recent years.
Can the modern awards show return to its former glory? Here’s a few good places to start.
An Apology Wouldn’t Hurt
We’re not talking the “hostage”-style mea culpa we see whenever Cancel Culture finds a new victim. This would be a sincere expression saying awards shows have lost their way, and the powers that be hope to change that … stat.
The apology would reach out to heartland U.S.A., first and foremost, explaining how artists too often dismiss their views and sensibilities. Next, they’d promise a return to the basics, shows focusing on the art in question – be it music, theater, movies or television.
Apologies still matter, assuming they come from the heart and make a solid point.
Find the Funny … Again
The modern awards show is very careful in how it selects a comic host. In some cases, like the Oscars, the unwritten rules are so restricting that few comedians would take the gig if offered. Other awards shows handcuff their emcees so they’re afraid to say anything that could offend.
It’s time for that to stop. Find the funniest stand-ups around, give them a month to write a killer 10-minute set and let ‘er rip. Politics shouldn’t be a part of the equation — at all. It’s an awards presentation, not a SuperPAC meeting.
Confused? Re-watch some of Billy Crystal’s classic Oscar hosting monologues. He cracked the all-important code — be funny, a little snarky and ultimately deferential to the artists on hand.
It is their night to shine, after all.
And, when the first round of Twitter complaints demands more politics or whine about a semi-pointed joke, tune them out. Oxygen, and press, only feed them.
Short and Sweet
The Oscars ceremony, arguably the most influential awards show to date, can drag on for more than three hours. That ends now. No show deserves to go on that long, even if it means some categories get the boot.
It’s a Commercial, Stupid
Awards shows are the ultimate platform to push product. Gather an industry’s best and brightest, showcase them at the peak of their creative powers, and the merch sells itself.
The best commercials welcome as many people as possible into the fold. They don’t lecture or scold, nor do they pick hot-button issues to screech about. Put talented artists in the spotlight and let them do the rest.
Perhaps it’s a sign of our troubled times, but our cultural hunger for the past has never been more apparent. It’s why Hollywood reboots every property it can find, hoping to rekindle fond memories along the way.
We’ve been reliving the ‘80s ever since “The Wedding Singer” hit theaters … back in 1998!
There’s nothing wrong with that, on paper. Now, put it into practice. Too many Oscar presenters are barely old enough to shave, as the producers hope a few new faces will lure younger viewers to the show.
Bring out the old guard. Pair a new chart topper with a Grammy winner from the ‘70s. Re-enact classic TV show moments to illustrate how great writing is timeless. What a way to honor the past … and the present.
Avoid Hypocrisy at All Costs
There’s many reasons not to trust celebrities when they lecture us from awards show podiums. They’re often ill-informed, for starters, leaning on Fake News reports to flesh out their world views.
More importantly, they routinely avoid calling out politicians if they have a “D” next to their names. That was never more apparent than when the Grammys came and went without a single singer talking about the “kids in cages” across the U.S.-Mexico border.
It would be all we heard about had President Donald Trump prevailed last November.
The best way to avoid being labeled hypocrites is to avoid stump speeches entirely. Exceptions can be made for art that addresses a particular issue, of course, like when Tom Hanks paid tribute to his gay teacher while accepting the Oscar for “Philadelphia.” That’s very often not the case, though. The best example came last year when Brad Pitt used his Oscar podium time to attack the latest President Trump nothingburger controversy. Bet he regrets that speech now.
You’re Rich and Beautiful … Own It
We want the glamour, the beauty, the fashions. It’s an escape from our everyday lives and we can live vicariously through the stars for one night. Don’t be ashamed. Lean into it … without insulting us in the process. Deep down we know the perils of fame, the pitfalls celebrity brings and the lives ruined by success. You can take a moment to savor the industry’s perks.
You Can’t Fix Racism in One Night
The most recent Golden Globes telecast featured stars attacking … the Golden Globes from allegations of racism within the voting group’s ranks. It’s certainly an important issue, but is this the best time to address it? Problems are fixed behind the scenes, with hard work, dedication and a willingness to hear all sides of an issue.
Why spend the Globes telecast wringing your hands about the issue? The night exists to celebrate the best TV and movies of the past year. Hearing a bunch of pampered stars punish their benefactors and, by extension, themselves is excruciating to watch.
Let’s Put on a Show
Lectures aren’t just a buzzkill during an awards show. They’re the opposite of entertainment. Self-loathing? Same issue. Awards shows should be fun, funny and exhilarating. We should grumble when the commercial break starts and feel exhausted, in a good way, when the final award is given out.
What a night!
Put entertainment up front. Make it the driving force of the gala. Make it hard for us to so much as glance at our smart phones for two solid hours.
Don’t Drive Kids Out of the Room
No one should attempt to censor art, to say a singer can’t tackle a certain topic or a filmmaker must avoid adult material on screen.
That’s very different than showing said material on an awards show stage where children could be watching. Kids should see stars being honored for their artistic excellence. It gives them something to strive for, a goal to set for themselves later in life. Heck, it might kickstart a career or two in the arts.
That’s not possible if, say, Cardi B acts out her raunchiest song on a Grammy show stage. The fact that the event’s producers greenlit that musical number shows why audiences can’t flee the modern awards show fast enough.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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