Interest in the Oscars has declined precipitously for two decades, but when Will Smith smacked comedian Chris Rock in the face, the show sank to its lowest cultural level. Can it ever come back?
The mainstream media will tell you that the Academy Awards show saw a massive rebound in viewers by a whopping 50% from 2021, but this is more akin to a dead cat bouncing. In the 1990s, the Oscars were a national event that regularly drew more than 50 million viewers when the United States had only 280 million people.
As late as 2014, the televised event had 43.7 million viewers. That looks good until you factor in that the population at the time had risen to 320 million. Thus, even in that peak year, viewers per capita were down 30% from the golden age 20 years earlier.
Off the Cliff
Hollywood has always been liberal and progressive, but in the 2010s, it went fully woke, producing cultural disasters such as the Star Wars trilogy and an embarrassing all-female remake of the 1984 classic Ghostbusters. Woke directors forced scenes and content on the American viewers that were conveniently cut out when sold to China and other international markets.
The Oscars became a virtue-signaling competition. During the years of President Donald Trump, the show degenerated into a political smear campaign. A great portion of the audience hated it and chose to spend their precious time doing more exciting things, such as laundry.
From 2014 to 2021, viewership fell off a cliff from 43.7 million to 10.4 million. The preliminary numbers show that only 15.4 million bothered to watch it in 2022, just a bit more than the 11 million people who tune in to an average Joe Rogan podcast. Given that the Oscars are supposed to be the cultural event of the year, its performance is underwhelming. The numbers seem to indicate the show has become irrelevant.
Smith’s scandalous behavior fits in with the general deterioration of the Oscars in quality and esteem. History may record 2022 as the year when the glamour event ran out of steam and hit rock bottom.
It may never recover, but if it does, it will be due to movies like Spiderman: No Way Home, which became a massive box office hit in 2021, grossing $1.8 billion worldwide. Its success formula is to tell an old-fashioned hero story from Hollywood’s golden era without woke nonsense and political virtue signaling.
When push comes to shove, money talks in Hollywood. Spiderman’s success proves that people are still willing to pack movie theaters if the content doesn’t stink. The money people in the entertainment industry are taking notice and reorienting their efforts. Don’t be surprised if future awards shows tone down the virtue signaling and woke barbs, and cinema projects start to focus on popular themes and stories that have general rather than politicized appeal.
~ Read more from Caroline Adana.