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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: If the Oscars are about filmmaking, why do we only get to watch celebrities feed their egos?

Everyone’s talking about whether or not Chris Rock did a good job discussing race at last week’s Oscars, and I’m just over here like: “Why can’t the Oscars be about, you know, film?”

That’s not to say the issue of diversity in filmmaking isn’t important to me. Don’t believe me? Go read the column I wrote on that very subject. But after watching this year’s telecast, I find myself wishing the show could be more about movies and less about celebrities and controversy.

How do we, every year, get through four hours of broadcast awarding excellence in filmmaking, without mentioning the actual filmmaking once? Why are there no video features on how Emmanuel Lubezki managed to film Leonardo DiCaprio being washed down the Canadian rapids in “The Revenant,” or how George Miller orchestrated those magnificent chase scenes in “Mad Max: Fury Road”?

Every year, three short films are awarded Oscars in three different categories, and yet most viewers will never have a chance to see them. Why not play these films in front of the broadcast, instead of torturing us with Robin Roberts asking awkward/sexist questions to the nominated actresses on the red carpet?

It’s no secret that students — aka young people — rarely tune in for live television. It’s even less of a secret that the Academy has been trying desperately the last few years to get more young eyeballs glued to televisions on the awards night. The height of this desperation occurred in 2013, when the show was hosted by Seth Macfarlane of all people, in an attempt to appeal to the youth that result in a generally limp production.

Adweek found that young people watch more than double the amount of online video content than they do actual television. Would the Academy not be better served by appealing to this trend, filling the Academy Awards broadcast with more short video content and less boring people talking on a stage?

Today’s younger generations are more aware of filmmaking as a science and an art form than ever before. They have the ability to make their own films for practically nothing, with truly powerful cameras in their phones and cheap editing software on their computers. They can create their own YouTube, Vimeo or Vine channels and make millions off advertising revenue. Why then, should they care about some stuffy awards show praising rich celebrities doing the same thing, unless the broadcast is meant in part to educate aspiring filmmakers and share how those stars were able to achieve what they did?

Again, it’s not that this year’s Oscars wasn’t at all worthwhile. Actually, Rock’s decision to make the entire broadcast about race was rather bold, and if nothing else, led to much more interesting content than in years past. His opening monologue in particular was a welcome change from the usual Billy Crystal musical number.

However, simply put, if the Academy Awards wish to continue as a cornerstone of the industry — the golden idol that all filmmakers everywhere look up to — then they could stand to return to their roots and remind us all of what’s actually being celebrated: filmmakers and their films.

Follow Greg Castro on Twitter.

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