Television ratings for this years Oscars were down some 58%. I can't say that I am surprised. The last time I was at the movie theatre was in February of last year. I saw JoJo Rabbit. I enjoyed it a lot- so much so that I paid for a download of the movie and had intended to show it at one of our Saturday movie afternoons here at church. Then COVID hit and we could not show movies here at the church. I could not go to the movie theatre. My love affair with going to the movies is on a temporary hiatus. Thismeant that this year, I did not see any of the movies nominated for best picture or any of the performances nominated for best actor/actress. I think that is the first time in decades that I did not see any of the nominees. So I am sure that many people just had not seen that many movies this year.
Many of this years Oscar winners have been available on streaming services on television. However, it is not the same as going to the movies. Going to the movies means putting on a coat and getting out of the house. It means paying over inflated prices for popcorn (but what is a movie without popcorn). It means finding my favourite seat in the theatre (not too close to the front and near the aisle). So even though I could watch some of these movies at home, I didn't. It just isn't the same watching these movies at home.
So I can understand why the television audiences were down this year. Talking with a group of folks from the church about why they did or did not watch the Oscars, I received other responses. One did not like the long speeches. A thank you given by someone whom we don't know, to a person whom we don't know gets old pretty fast. A few did not like the political stances that some of the award winners talk about in their speeches. I can understand that as well. Even if I agree with some of these stances, it does not matter to me that this star supports the cause or does not support the cause. I like to think that I make up my mind on political issues on my own. It does not matter to me what the star of the day thinks. Some folks that I talked to were simply not interested in movies. Some were more concerned about other things.
I do tend to watch the Oscars though for the following reasons. One, I watch for the dresses. Some stars look so wonderful; others are just too outrageous. I like it when people are so surprised when they win that they don't know what to say when they get up to the podium. Although not present this year, I used to love it when the hosts would roast the stars in the opening number (Billy Crystal was so fantastic at doing this). I like to watch the clips from movies that I have missed (maybe I might enjoy seeing them later). I like cheering for my favourites (go Meryl or Tom Hanks). I watch to see if some stars might finally win their first Oscar after a stellar career (Glenn Close or the likes of Peter O'Toole who have been or were nominated 8 times but never won). When the In Memorium section comes on I am always found to be saying, "Oh I didn't know that he died," or "she was so good in this role or that." I watch the Oscars to see who has had recent plastic surgery, or who is not aging well. I watch for many reasons.
The Oscars rating decline might be a sign that the movie industry has changed. In the midst of the pandemic, many people are more concerned about survival or keeping their jobs rather than something as frivolous as a movie. Movies aren't quite as mainstream as they used to be (winners are no longer popular stories acted by well known movie factory stars but rather come diverse voices and lesser known stars). There are also so many more entertainment vehicles out there- streaming services, video games, the internet, etc. Movies have become less important as all of these other options are out there.
Yet despite these things, I will still go to the movies (once I am able). I will also watch the Oscars to cheer on my favourite stars and see those wonderful and horrible fashions. Blessings.