Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and they were as boring as Anne Hathaway’s beige pantsuit.
Sure, the people who win awards care about them. And the people who are nominated care about them until they don’t win and then they rationalize the superciliousness of awarding one another trinkets for perceived validation.
Aside from the winners and the wanna-be-winners, does anyone one else care anymore? After nodding off during the Golden Globes and then the Grammys, I’m thinking not so much. To be fair, most of the Grammy performances were worth watching. It was the awards part that felt like filler. T/S’er Leor Galil noticed as well in Another ‘Grammys are irrelevant’ post.
So, what gives?
Two words: Social. Media.
That’s right, social media is killing the awards show. We used to watch awards shows because they were the only chance we had to live vicariously, to see celebrities as themselves or dolled-up versions of themselves. We could relate — Sandra Bullock winning a Golden Globe is kind of like when I came in third place during that district spelling bee in 5th grade. Dressed up? Check. Trophy presented? Check. Accomplishment recognized? Double check.
But now, I no longer need to wait for an awards show to get an intimate glimpse of a celebrity, and I no longer need to rely on the “expertise” of those selecting the winners. Social media gives me access to celebrities and experts on my terms, allowing me to call the shots. Rather than a network programming my awards season for me, I can do it myself through blogs, twitter feeds, podcasts and videos. Social media is, to a large extent, the great equalizer.
I watched the Golden Globes specifically because Ricky Gervais was hosting, and I was disappointed. Mel Gibson joke aside, it was a multimedia dose of ambien. Lesson learned. I’m much better off going to Ricky’s blog, where I learn he just did a photo shoot, his mate’s missing dog was found and his day consisted of “More junkets. Went for a run. Drank wine. Watched telly.”
I can follow celebs on twitter, including my fave awards show host and current crush Neil Patrick Harris (@actuallynph on twitter and yes I know he’s gay but I’m still crushing). I can even interact directly with celebs, responding to their twitter messages or commenting on their blogs. Sometimes, a-hem, Jon Favreau might even retwitter you.
But mostly, it’s about the ever-growing voice of public opinion. It’s about what movie or music my Facebook friends favor, rather than the Foreign Press Association. It’s about what’s trending on my Twitter feed, with my carefully-curated list of people I follow. It’s about technology giving us an all-access pass, letting us in behind the velvet rope. I imagine many actors watched the Academy Award nominations much as I did this morning, viewing the live stream on my laptop. They will follow the media flow in the same way as well, googling and twittering and clicking on multiple devices.
We’re no longer handcuffed to the entertainment experts presented to us through traditional media venues. Celebrities can listen not just to the professional critic, but also to the amateur and fan. I listen to the opinions that matter to me; I can find, choose and follow those voices. Through social media we are achieving what art is all about — freedom of expression — and in doing so we are de-valuing the monopolistic voices that drove public opinion for so long.
I’ll still watch the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7th, to see how Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin fare as co-hosts and to see the dresses and drama. It will no longer be a Big Event for me, though. I’ll likely be multi-tasking with the TV on and TweetDeck open. Like the Golden Globes and the Grammys, the Oscars have lost their luster. To shine again they need a significant overhaul that takes into account how we consume media today. That means more than a go-to-the-website -to-vote-for-a-Bon-Jovi-song gimmick. Seriously, that’s the best you can do? For an industry that is grounded in story-telling, imagination, creativity and magic, remaking the awards show should be a worthy opportunity and challenge.
My six-year-old put it all in perspective when I told her about the Oscars. She said, simply, “Oh, they just want you to go to the movies so they can make more money.”
Members of the Academy, the future generation of awards-show-watchers are waiting in the wings. Go ahead. Make their day.