The Oscars are embarrassing

By Nina Benich, Online Editor

I love watching the Oscars. Every year, I look forward to that night in March when the best movies are celebrated and the people who made them are recognized. Every year, millions of movie fans prepare for the show by watching the nominations. And every year, something goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Every Oscars has at least one event to steal the night’s spotlight. The last major one was in 2017, with the famous La La Land/Moonlight fiasco. 

I’m not going to focus on this year’s particular incident. If you watched the show, or use any form of social media, you probably know what I’m referencing. Instead, I want to focus on the inexcusable aspects of this year’s show, which are currently being criminally overshadowed by the press.

Within the show’s nearly four-hour runtime, we saw seemingly endless displays of crudely unfunny jokes and moments that were so tone deaf, it’s hard to imagine them being approved for live broadcast.

Among them included a bit by one of this year’s hosts, Regina Hall. While on stage, she made sexual comments toward multiple visibly-ucomfortable male actors in the room. The punch line was that she wanted to gather them for COVID-19 emergency testing, and she could only do so by “swabbing the back of your mouth with my tongue.” I can’t think of something less funny, and what a horrible way for the first Oscars with three female hosts to make their debut. It was revealed before our eyes that the Academy gave the go-ahead to air live sexual harrassment, simply because it was targeted at men.

The Oscars also broadcasted a brief moment of silence for victims of the war in Ukraine. I have never in my life observed more privilege than that moment — watching a room full of millionaires in outfits that could pay off my college tuition not talk for 30 seconds to feign solidarity for victims of something as horrible as this war. I only wish that these people would put their money where their mouths are.

The most disappointing part of this all is that this isn’t surprising –– these people, who have an incessant amount of money and an untouchable platform, have been tone deaf for longer than the Oscars have been in existence. These uncomfortable jokes and moments are put on display every year. One that immediately comes to mind is the 2003 Oscars, when Adrien Brody kissed Halle Berry on stage without her consent. Berry has discussed this moment in various interviews, and we know how uncomfortable it made her. This is just one example.

Instead of their advertised display of appreciation for the art of film, the Oscars have been replaced by an insensitive clown show which catches the eyes of millions of people around the world and calls them the problem. We, the observers, the people who gave these movies their popularity and success, are told to get off our high horses. Just watch one of this year’s Best Picture nominees –– Don’t Look Up ––- and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

This problem, which has gone on for far too long, has a somewhat simple solution: Stop having the actors host. Instead, have other members of the Academy host –– these are the people who decide where the awards go. 

Expand the Academy to more diverse members. We need more LGBT+ people, people of color and women making the decisions so we can reinforce representation, which I believe to be one of the most important aspects of making a movie. And while they’re at it, the Oscars should stop the bad comedy –– or just stop the comedy in general.

I don’t watch the Oscars for the awkward, offensive and all-around unfunny jokes. I watch to see a celebration. A celebration of marginalized groups finding their voices on the big screen. A celebration of the people who lifted and visualized those many voices and experiences through art. A celebration of creative people –– writers, directors, cinematographers, actors and musicians alike. A celebration of the talented women whose work constantly goes unseen in the film industry. That is what the Oscars should be: a celebration of people, not a spectacle of embarrassment.