With the fresh faces of James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-hosting the 2011 Academy Awards, this was the year for the Oscars to rebound with the viewing public. Wrong. What some have described as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history seems to be accurate, if the Neilson Ratings are any indication. In the coveted 18-49 demographic, the Oscars were off by 11% from last year and were the next-to-last watched since Neilson began tracking the demographic in 1992. So much for “hip and cool” to attract a bigger audience!
When Hollywood elites — increasingly out-of-touch with mainstream America — continue to produce drivel like this past Sunday’s show, the American public will stop watching — at the theaters and in their homes. Does anyone in Hollywood have a clue or even care? They continue to make excuses as to why box office numbers are down instead of looking in the mirror and realizing that they have become so radicalized that they have “lost” a large segment of our country. And, they will most likely not be able to get them back.
I am one of those that the Academy has lost. I used to love to watch the Academy Awards show every year. From the opening number to the always late (at least on the east coast) final award of the night for Best Picture, viewing the Oscar broadcast was entertaining.
Somewhere along the way, however, the show became less and less enjoyable to watch. When I would attempt to sit through the annual telecast, I would find myself increasingly frustrated at the nominated actors, actresses, directors, and movies. When Michael Moore won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary for his anti-gun propaganda piece, “Bowling for Columbine,” that was about the final straw. I won’t even comment on the pathetic Oscar given to Al Gore (you know the awards had truly jumped the shark when this happened).
Other than a few minutes here or there over the last ten years, I can’t tell you the last time that I sat down to watch any significant portion of the Academy Awards. This year, I did not watch any of the broadcast. And, I really didn’t miss it. That’s because things have changed. Oh, I don’t think that I changed that much, but it sure does seem that the biggest awards show of them all has changed. And, the “talent” that the Oscar telecast showcases seems to have changed a lot since I first started watching back in the early 1980’s. We’ve sure come a long way from Johnny Carson and even Billy Crystal. I think I might take Whoopi Goldberg as host at this point!
Do the Oscars need to keep up with the times? No doubt. Are changes needed to reach a broader audience? Absolutely. However, what appears to have been a sure-fire formula for success has backfired. When you take what is tested and beloved by millions and turn it into some radically different show, you will lose your audience. It sounds counter-intuitive to think that two young, “hip and cool” attractive stars like Franco and Hathaway would bomb, but that’s exactly what happened.
You can blame the producers or the writers (both easy scapegoats), but in the end, the two up-and-coming celebrities did not connect with the audience primarily because they were so radically different from the majority of their audience. If you look at the Neilson numbers, the worst showing was among men, ages 25-54. I can certainly relate to that.
You see, most people are not “hip and cool” nor do they particularly desire to be so. However, the powers-that-be always seem to overestimate the audience who will relate to “hip and cool.” They somehow think that “hip and cool” attracts a wide audience when in fact it does the opposite.
Maybe a few minutes with the “hip and cool” crowd would suffice, but much more than that will be a turn-off for most folks. It’s not that we dislike people who are “hip and cool” (although some we dislike more than others). It’s just that we don’t want to be condescended to like
many most of the hipsters have a tendency to do, whether they realize it or not. It is off-putting and really not something that most people want to be willingly subjected to.
Unfortunately, the “hip and cool” folks don’t really understand this concept. Instead of dialing back the hipness factor, they turn it on full speed. Rather than admit that being “hip and cool” is not as popular as they think it is, this same crowd will continue to impose their will on the majority of us who are decidedly neither hip nor cool.
I wish I could say that the “hip and cool” disease was relegated to Hollywood. In our modern culture, however, the hipster bug has infected just about every aspect of our life and has even infiltrated the church. How else to explain 50-year old pastors with bleach blond hair wearing jeans, half-unbuttoned shirts (untucked of course), and sitting on stools trying to appear 30 years Young(er) than they are?
The bad news is that the “hip and cool” crowd is still in charge and think that everybody is going to follow whatever it is that they are selling. The good news is that the audience for this kind of hipster madness seems to be shrinking, if it ever was as big as the “hip and cool” people say that it was in the first place. When the audience tunes out in record numbers, the “hip and cool” folks just might begin to notice. But then again, I could be wrong.