After the 2018 Oscars received its lowest ratings in its history, with 26.5 million viewers marking a sharp 19% drop from the previous year’s ceremony, there has been much debate about what should be done with the Academy Awards.
In response to the precipitous decline in viewership that followed a brief spike in 2014, when Ellen DeGeneres hosted, the Academy attempted earlier this year to redress those grievances by announcing it would trim its telecast to three hours, air it in February instead of March, and introduce a new category, Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. The first two changes were greeted with consensus approval; the second, however, with derision, since the implicit suggestion was that lucrative films aren’t good enough to simply be nominated for best picture, that something central distinguishes movies that perform at the box office from “high art”. Thankfully the most Popular Film category has been shelved for the time being. It's without a doubt that the Oscars are desperate and need a change but are they brave enough to implement anything new?
People’s viewing habits are shifting. No longer are people watching live television as much as they used to. With streaming services popular these days, a lot of people believe that live television could be a thing of the past. But perhaps those doomsayers are wrong and the Oscars could simply be saved by a shakeup. Maybe a new host is all that is required.
Kevin Hart will take over hosting duties from Jimmy Kimmel, who presided over the last two ceremonies, including 2016’s flub that resulted in the wrong best picture winner being announced. Hart who started in The Ride Along and Central Intelligence has a huge mountain to climb this year. Is he up to the challenge?
Why do the Oscars even need a host? The host performs a monologue full of jokes and then appears sporadically throughout the evening to read a zinger or two off the teleprompter. This year, there are fewer awards being given out in an effort to keep the broadcast under three hours.
It might just be nice for the Academy to mix it up and try something different, since what they’ve been doing of late hasn’t been working. Unfortunately Kevin Hart – as talented as he is – is more of the same and it will be surprising if he can do anything that Jimmy Kimmel could not.
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