Can This Show Be Saved?

“The [Oscar telecast] ratings are going to drop a bit more each year because the Oscar show reflects the cares and passions of industry-ites (filmmakers, distributors, academy members, press, web savants) who at least pretend to care about movies that emotionally engage or arouse or deliver insights about the human experience.
“Unfortunately, this is pretty much what the Gorilla Nation people in the malls — the ones who just want to watch stuff like Transformers or the Hannah Montana concert movie and who basically prefer films that provide surface thrills or happy-pill highs — do not want to see as a rule. (Although they will occasionally.)
“The only way a big audience will come back is if some movie version of a Barack Obama comes along, and that’s not very likely. The phenomenon of Titanic was the last time this happened. The Oscars can’t go home again because the homogenous America of the 20th century is pretty much gone. Except when something magical happens, and it returns.” — HE’s response to a query from L.A. Times staffer Deborah Netburn in a 2.27 article called “Can This Show Be Saved?”

  • T. Holly

    If Gorilla Nation people would stop breeding, even in mixed gorilla/non-gorilla unions, the ratings would dip a bit less each year.

  • TakeMeBackToManhattan

    I only post occassionally on this site, but in my humble, unsought opinion, these “knuckle-dragging, clueless red staters” posts need to cease as long as Mr. Wells continues to never have seen an episode of “The Wire”, one of the paramount achievements in American entertainment of the last 25 years. Continued ignorance of this work should preclude these types of posts, given that it renders any accusations of artistic cluelessness hypocritical.

  • BurmaShave

    As someone pointed out on HotBlog, would anyone in their right mind say no one is watching ‘American Idol’?
    Also weren’t the winners this year fairly assured? It’ll be back up when there’s a real horserace.

  • Dave

    “The Oscars can’t go home again because the homogenous America of the 20th century is pretty much gone.”
    No Jeff, there never was a homogenous America. There was homogenous *content*– the studio system, six television channels, government-regulated radio, not even a dream of movie rentals let alone the internet.
    The content didn’t create a splintered America, Jeff– it’s catered *to* it.
    Sheesh Uncle Festus, stop getting this wrong again and again with your “gorilla nation” nonsense.

  • T. Holly

    Can’t we all agree that serialized drama is a horse of a different color leave The Wire alone?

  • TakeMeBackToManhattan

    No, we can’t leave it alone, because the cultural ignorance of which many people are constantly accused cuts both ways. One can’t constantly rail against the simplicity of the current mainstream zeitgeist and then ignore one of the our most revered works of art and entertainment.

  • Dave

    Aside from the Sopranos, Jeff doesn’t do televison. Railing against him in that department is futile.

  • MilkMan

    Don’t trust anyone who still makes claims for the importance of anything that is being shown on television. The Wire is a nice show, entertaining, well written and acted, but get a hold of yourself and wash your panties. Isn’t that what everyone also said about The Sopranos? Diverting entertainments, that’s what they are, the equivalent of solid airplane novels imbibed during alphawave state. How anyone can get so excited about such a passive experience continues to impress and disturb me. Go read an issue of Adbusters or something.

  • http://Hickenlooper Hickenlooper

    This argument is ass backwards. How can you blame middle American for only watching crap like ‘Transformers’ when that is the only crap that plays in their theaters. Yes there are Art Houses in Cleveland and St. Louis but they are generally limited to a few screens and the P and A money that goes into these Oscar worthy films tends to be minimal. A lot of folks don’t even know these movies exist. On top of that Hollywood is so out of touch with the rest of America (with its absurd over blown politicized agenda) that it hardly relates to America at all. For the last twenty years Hollywood has been concerned with what’s hip and cool rather than anything that remotely relates to genuine human behavior or reflects anything close to real life. Oh, I’m sorry I forgot about JUNO. Regardless, this point of view that the rest of America is made up of nothing but ignorant rubes is arrogant and miopic and continues to prove the point that the only real cultural ignorance exists in Hollywood.

  • Dave

    Here, here Hickenlooper!
    As I wrote in an earlier thread a few days ago, I firmly believe that EVERYONE will see No Country For Old Men– on Netflix, on HBO, or after a million TNT “Movies for Guys Who Like Movies” reruns.
    Great movies still nearly always find their audience. They just don’t always succeed in the three-week margin at the suburban multiplex (if they’re lucky to play there at all).
    But yeah, keep on going with the “Gorilla Nation” bit, Jeff. You believe it, so it MUST be true!

  • Movie Watcher

    The Oscars are TOO LONG! It should be 2 hours at the most. Too many montages/songs/people taking too long to walk up and shoot their mouths off, nobody cares about that. The first thing, once the show starts, is give out either best supporting actor/actress awards, then give out the director’s award. And would it kill them to have podiums/platforms around the auditorium? That way somebody sitting in the middle or back can get the award there? And don’t show a highlight of each movie; you should know what the movie’s about by that time. I haven’t watched a full oscars show in 15 years.

  • MilkMan

    Hear, hear, Mr. Hickenlooper. I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time. Everyone acts as if Transformers is the product of some fever dream an 15 year old boy in Nebraska had. But it was thought of, created, and distributed by grown men who live a block north of Montana Ave. One of the writers of Transformers, Alex Kurtzman, was born and raised in Los Angeles, went to all the right schools, has a brother who’s an agent at CAA, and so on. Michael Bay is a self-styled sophisticated pussy hound. And I’m supposed to blame the two hundred million people between here and Trenton? No way. The endless supply of dreck that is foisted upon the citizens of this country is produced by the very same people who claim to have no affiliation with the people they make fun of. I hope that if there is ever a civil war is this country (no such luck) that someone replicates Sherman’s March and starts on Wilshire Blvd.

  • Mr B

    Milk, are you serious? Every art form has it’s airport reading material equivalent, movies have a similar ratio of good vs. bad. A great movie and a great television show can both exist. True they are different. Books are different from poems are different from paintings are different from movies. They use different forms to tell their stories, but stories, ideas, and emotions are communicated.
    Also, I liked the Sopranos well enough, but it is not in the same class as The Wire. I would hold a good episode of Seinfeld, Curb, or the original Office against any comedy made in the past 30 years. I’d take Band of Brothers over many war movies. The list goes on.

  • JaySmire

    Overall: Oscars were shorter this year than in year’s past. One reason: only 1 honorary award and they did away with the redundant Best film clips segment throughout.
    Okay: how else to fix? Get rid of the songs. Usually tedious, but that’s typically due to the song choices themselves. The Once song was the only one worth sitting through.
    Short films, animated shorts and doc shorts. Sorry–it just seems like their time has come and gone. I’d be more in favor of a new category being added and all three of these going bye bye.
    We are in a new age. There’s more to watch on TV. By February too many people could care less who wins an Oscar. Lets face it, the relevance, importance and shine just isn’t the same. I watch it every year, but most people I talk to don’t. They can make the show better, but the age of big ratings is over. Maybe there is something to having the show on Monday nights.
    And while I liked John Stewart as a host, I don’t feel he’s right for the role. Steve Martin has been my personal favorite over the past ten years. Not sure why he doesn’t get the nod more often. Whoopie can cry all she wants to about not getting in a best of clip “how pathetic is that?” but I thought she was one of the worst Oscar hosts.

  • http://actionman-nickspix.blogspot.com/ actionman

    There is enough room in this world for Transformers AND No Country For Old Men

  • AJW

    It would be nice is the Academy nominated a great summer flick, like Bourne Ultimatum or Batman Begins. Both of those are going to have much longer shelf-lives than Juno or Atonement (and are better), and would possibly attract bigger audiences if they were nominated for non-technical awards. If it’s a celebration about movies why not celebrate the best of all types of movies (including comedies…)?

  • corey3rd

    Steve doesn’t host the Oscars cause it keeps conflicting with his latest “Cheaper By the Dozen” film
    This whole argument has zero worth simply because if it is a matter of picking the popular films for awards, the Blockbuster Awards would still be happening and bringing in 50 million viewers.
    People no longer need to watch the Oscars cause they’ll see all the highlights on the various “news” shows the next morning. If anything good happens, they’ll see it repeated all day long. And on the internet.

  • bmcintire

    corey3rd hit the nail on the head. I can remember being stranded with no electricity and missing the awards back in the mid 80’s then getting up before dawn the following morning to grab the newspaper and find out who won. Now, it’s instantly everywhere and that much less necessary to sit through.
    And Jeff’s belief of a Gorilla Nation existing solely in the “flyover” states is absurd. As if theaters playing TRANSFORMERS and NORBIT sat empty in New York and Los Angeles.

  • http://moviemaniac2002 moviemaniac2002

    You’re right about the dwindling Oscar ratings.
    And the reason is simply this…we have lost
    an entire generation of artist-showmen (the
    Billy Wilders, the Alfred Hitchcocks, the
    Frank Capras)…directors who had the gift of
    blending art and commerce. Like the Coen brothers
    they made great movies…unlike the Coen brothers
    they made great movies that millions of people
    wanted to see…went to see…and responded to.
    Look at what we’ve devolved into now…the
    summertime CGI circus, presided over by sub-human
    ringmasters like Michael Bay. Then when the circus folds its tent in August…it’s eat-your-
    -spinach time, an equally depressing, dreary
    parade of glum, nasty, near suicide-inducing
    Oscar wanna-bes, distinguished by their flowing
    gore, bizarre performances and obtuse endings.
    It’s no wonder that more and more people
    seek comfort in Turner Classic Movies…but
    I still pray for the return of the entertainer-artists to today’s film world. If they don’t…
    the Oscar viewership in future years will be
    less people than the paid admissions to “Blonde
    Ambition” and “The Hottie And The Nottie”

  • gruver1

    Wells to moviemaniac2002: Well written, that. And very true.

  • Jay T.

    What about Gladiator? That was a big movie that did well at the awards…

  • Jay T.

    “This argument is ass backwards. How can you blame middle American for only watching crap like ‘Transformers’ when that is the only crap that plays in their theaters.”
    I see your point, but on the other hand, a lot of these theaters have tried screening some more arty movies and didn’t sell any tickets, so it works both ways.

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