As the nominations roll out for Oscars 2021 its relevance is worth pondering over
The 93rd Academy Awards are right around the corner. After getting delayed due to the pandemic in 2020, Oscar 2021 has rolled out its carefully curated nominations. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is close to a century. A pandemic is just another roadblock in the history of an institution that has been with us through World Wars, famines, epidemics and more.
The Academy Awards popularly known as Oscars has been around since 1927. Over the years it has recognized various artists, talents and technical merits in the film industry. Each year it recognises talent from every corner of the world. The event was first broadcasted on radio in 1930 and televised for the first time in 1953. And in the 20th century, it became the hub of all things luxury and finesse. From what brands actors wear to carefully crafted sponsors of the after-party event to a virtual one post-pandemic – Oscars seem evolved with its times to stay relevant. But did it?
What’s Wrong With Oscars?
While the Academy Awards are deemed the most prestigious recognition in the film industry, the institution and machinery have their faults. In today’s ‘woke’ times Oscars relevance and practices both are being called out, and rightfully so.
Watch: Top 10 Controversial Award Winners
The Academy has been often called out for its biased nominations. Be it a talent like Natalie Portman who had the courage to voice ‘all male’ Oscars concern publically. Then there are actors like Joaquin Phoenix or Leonardo Di Caprio using the stage to bring attention to climate change. Or a plethora of courageous female and male celebrities who shared their #MeToo stories. Oscars have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons in the last couple of years.
Diversity, Inclusion and Race issues are deeply rooted in the Academy Awards or at least in the machinery behind it.
Ironically, in a long history, it’s only in 2019 when Bong Joon-ho’s The Parasite became the first-ever non-English language film to win the Best Picture Oscar among others. In 2015, #OscarSoWhite, a social justice campaign brought the Academy’s diversity and inclusion problems to the surface. The hashtag virtually changed the outlook of the general audience and the industry towards the Oscars. In 2015 the campaign came out on the heels of #BlackLivesMatter created further movements that called out issues like #WhiteWashedOut and #TimesUp.
Are Oscars Really Relevant?
A 2019 Poll shows that half of the US thinks the Oscars have lost relevance and Hollywood is out of touch with real issues. With that thought its no wonder The Academy Awards has seen a year by year viewership loss. The poll found that Oscars are losing relevance compared to other broadcasted events like the Olympics, the State of the Union or the Super Bowl.
After a pandemic year gap, the Oscars are back again and issues still relevant. However, amends are being made The Academy Awards now has a diversity clause, which is more of a problem in long term than a solution. Maybe what the Academy needs to understand is that to resonate with changing times they need to adapt. Generation Z as they are called believes in caring for and calling out the issues they are surrounded by.
Interestingly, in 1927 The Academy was started with an intent to mediate disputes and thereby formed the union of film industry, The awards were just an afterthought. Maybe its time for Oscars to go back to its roots.