Why the Oscars don’t matter

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Why the Oscars don’t matter

Yael Hanadari-Levy, Opinion Editor

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Tens of millions of Americans watch the Oscars every year. The award show is one of the most-watched television events, aside from sports games. And it’s extremely influential: box-office sales for Best Picture winners get a huge boost after the movies win. There’s no doubt that the Oscars are a huge part of American culture, but should they be?

The entire idea behind the awards is ridiculous. A group of almost entirely white and male industry professionals vote on movies they probably haven’t even seen to decide which are the “best”. Those criticisms aren’t meaningless: the Academy’s diversity issues are clearly reflected in the awards and nominations on which they vote. Non-white people and women are famously underrepresented in the Oscars, and while you could argue that the fact that voters are all in the movie industry means they can use their expertise to decide, that also means they’re often biased by movies that are “supposed” to win or that specifically appeal to them.

Even ignoring all the other issues, the Academy members are voting on movies that they don’t even have to see. Sure, the attempt to quantify the subjective concept of “best”ness into one award based on the opinions of a selective group of professionals is futile, but I’d at least expect them to be required to watch the movie. There’s no way you can argue that the decision isn’t biased when the decision isn’t necessarily based on the movies.

But okay. Let’s say you really, really want to see movies you haven’t watched get awarded meaningless titles by people who also haven’t watched them. But why does it have to be so expensive? The Oscars ceremony costs over $40 million to produce. In their acceptance speeches, Oscar winners always make a point of bringing in politics and talking about their favorite issues. It’s great that they use their position to talk about important issues, but maybe they can do something other than talk. All that money that gets spent on fancy statues and tiny pieces of paper and expensive gift bags for a bunch of billionaires could instead go to causes that actually need it.

The Oscars are outdated and wasteful. The only reason there is for still having the award show is that people enjoy watching it, but since reports show viewership is steadily going down, that argument is slowly becoming inapplicable. Maybe instead of watching the Oscars, we can spend that time watching the movies themselves.

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