To many people, worldwide, the American Academy Awards is the most important and prestigious event of its kind. Important? No question… an Academy Award is worth a small fortune, before and after taxes. Prestigious? Define prestigious.
As a media event, the awards ceremony and its internet fellow-travelers is one of the largest of any kind in the world, though this year's viewership dropped by more than 10%. Why? Depends upon whom you ask. Too long for antzy tv and internet viewers, not enough glamor, too little 'gods-of-olympus' mystique, a thoroughly prevailing loss of innocence. Above all, it was thoroughly boring, uninteresting, unrewarding for a 3-1/2 hour sit-through. All effect, bland content. But that's not new… it's been soda without fizz for many years.
The script this year was much more inane than usual. The structure of the show wandered. Perhaps it had to do with the 'actor-presenters' delivering their lines. Perhaps it had to do with the touted effort to attract a growing, younger audience by focusing on growing, younger references, words and 'hahas'. Boredom comes in all shapes, sizes and ages. Yet there was a striking revelation in this media event.
The Academy Awards was instituted in Hollywood during the so-called 'golden' studio era of the 1930's and 40's. It began as an insular, self-contained sit-down dinner ceremony for Hollywood people to honor themselves followed by post-event publicity and marketing. It became a natural for television as a live, unedited event. It grew in scope and impact and of course, it began to make much money… which is, after all, the pump that makes the Hollywood carousel go 'round.
What was particularly revealing in this year's broadcast were the presentations of the presenters. From the two hosts, whoever they are, to the range of film-actors, there was a monotone—a steady delivery of unsyncopated timing and vocal mumble. American film actors don't speak very well off-camera. Many are at least consistent, they don't speak well on-camera either. And what was so apparent as one watched and listened to them, one after another, is that this is a generation of actors who are not performers—sans experience with live audiences, sans experience with live theatre, sans an awareness of who they are, where they are, and what it is they are doing. They 'twitter' and there's nothing more mind-numbing than 3-1/2 hours of 'twittering'.
Maybe, if he's still alive, they'll get Kirk Douglas to host and present all of the awards at next year's event. Stroke, cane and all, at least he knows how to put on a show.
That's what it used to be called, wasn't it... show business?