Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
The Slap Heard ‘Round the Oscars
When Will Smith slapped host Chris Rock, it was the slap heard ‘round the Oscars. Without that drama, the award show’s viewership may have hit an all-time low. Liberty Nation’s Caroline Adana broke down the numbers, and the results show a rapid decrease.
To recap Ms. Adana, in the 1990s, more than 50 million viewers tuned in to watch the Academy Awards. However, at that time, there were only 280 million people in the US. By 2014, 43.7 million people watched the show, but by then the population had grown to 320 million, actually making it a 30% drop from 20 years earlier. We can really see the fall in 2021, when viewership fell to just 10.4 million. This year, although there was an increase (likely because of the Smith/Rock drama), preliminary numbers show only about 15.4 million people tuned in.
What is causing the loss of interest in the awards? Could it be because they are becoming more political, with the stars trying to assert their agendas? This is hardly the first time actors have acted out during the awards. Remember Kanye West (Ye) when he stormed the stage to interrupt Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech to say how Beyonce had a better music video?
During the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, Natalie Portman, while standing next to Ron Howard, got in a dig about gender differences, saying, “And here are the all-male nominees.” Marlon Brando won best actor for The Godfather, but refused the award. Instead, he had a Native American woman accept in his place and she explained that Brando didn’t want the award because of the treatment of American Indians in films.
Those are only a couple of examples, but it’s not about the films anymore, it’s about the drama – and what kind of political movement they can get out of it. Take the Smith-Rock incident: How many agendas will spiral out of it?
For example: There is now an effort to bring more awareness to Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss condition. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is launching a formal review into Will Smith’s actions. The British Academy Films Award (BAFA) has said it would have removed Smith from the ceremony. Some people have suggested Smith be banned forever from the Academy Awards, while others insist he should lose his award for King Richard. Still others are calling for more censorship on comedians, and then there’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who brought race into the equation with a message he wrote on Substack:
“When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. Will Smith Did a Bad, Bad Thing. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community.”
What will happen to Smith? Will he be banned from attending awards in the future like West, who was pulled from the upcoming Grammy Awards reportedly because of “concerning online behavior.”
The political agendas being foisted on fans could be one of the biggest factors of the decline in viewership, but the stars see their spotlight as an opportunity to spread the word – at least in their opinions. Amy Schumer summed it up nicely in an interview on an upcoming episode of The Drew Barrymore Show:
“I think there is definitely pressure in one way to be like, ‘This is a vacation, let people forget. We just want to have this night,’ but it is like, well, we have so many eyes and ears on this show. I think it’s a great opportunity to at least comment on a couple of things. I have some jokes that kind of highlight the sort of current condition. I mean, there are so many awful things happening that it seems hard to focus on which one.”
Schumer even said she had pitched having Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the show via live satellite, “just because there are so many eyes on the Oscars,” she explained. “I am not afraid to go there but it’s not me producing the Oscars.”
While the stage may belong to the performers, fans can choose whether to watch their performance. If stars become too political, they may just find their viewership and fanbase dropping even more. Despite what Schumer said, a lot of people watch the awards for entertainment, not political messaging.
Cheers and Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinseltown.
Bruce Willis Is Retiring
Action hero legend Bruce Willis is retiring from acting. The announcement was made on Wednesday, March 30. According to his family, the actor has been diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disorder that “robs you of the ability to communicate,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both verbal and written.” The condition is usually caused by a stroke, but it can also result from an infection or head injury, among other issues.
The family reached out on Instagram to announce Willis’ retirement. “As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that. Love, Emma, Demi, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, & Evelyn.”
Willis made his first notable appearance with the ABC television series Moonlighting before he wowed us as John McClane in the 1988 movie Die Hard. Other big name works include Pulp Fiction with John Travolta and The Sixth Sense.
Putin Fires Back: “They are trying to cancel our country.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not happy – and it’s not just over the delay in capturing Ukraine, or the sanctions. No, the Kremlin’s leader is upset because he thinks America is trying to cancel the Russian culture.
“Today they are trying to cancel a whole thousand-year culture – our people,” Putin exclaimed. “They are banning Russian writers and books.” This is reportedly in response to several Russian musical events being canceled, mostly in protest of his war with Ukraine. “They are now trying to cancel our country,” Putin said. “I’m talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia.”
He even brought up J.K. Rowling, saying she is being canceled because of her remarks on transgender. “It is impossible to imagine such a thing in our country and we are insured against this thanks to our culture.” Putin added: “And it’s inseparable for us from our motherland, from Russia, where there is no place for ethnic intolerance, where for centuries representatives from dozens of ethnic groups have been living together.”
Keanu Reeves Censored by China
Keanu Reeves has been reportedly censored by China because of his support of Tibet. The star of The Matrix participated in a benefit concert for Tibet earlier this month, which apparently incensed China. On March 14, several of his films were taken off major Chinese platforms. Some of his works that were removed include Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and The Matrix trilogy.
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.