Failure at the Academy

"Interest andanticipation builds to a fevered pitch leading up to the Oscar telecast inFebruary, when hundreds of millions of movie lovers tune in to watch theglamorous ceremony and learn who will receive the highest honors in film making.” This spiel is written up on the official website of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to testifyto the unparalleled importance of the Oscars in the world of cinema. But do theOscars really single out the highest achievements in cinema? Are theyaround toshine a light on the best and brightest of the film industry? Is ittruly about rewarding excellence? Or is it about dressing up thousandsof Hollywood’s biggest stars, packing them into one theater,and creating one of the most profitable nights on television. With anaverageaudience of 40 million viewers, the Oscar telecast is a secondChristmas forABC and the Academy. Oscar’s primary purpose is to pull in the largest possible crowd. Historically,the biggest audiences are drawn in when a blockbuster hit is up for bi g awards. Remember films like Sha kespeare in Love , Return of the King , and Titanic ? These budget monsters can pull in crowds of over 50 million. The low budget pictures such as Crash , NoCountry , and even Chicago have seensome of the lowest ratings in Oscar history. Historically speaking, the movieswith the highest revenue or budgets get the most recognition. I realizethat the primary goal of the film industry is to generate vast amounts ofmoney, but when Gladiator beats a film like Traffic , or when Titanic receivesmore nominations and wins than any other movie in the history of the awards, Ihave to question the validity of the so-called “ highest [honor] in film making.” There’s no doubt thatthe telecast is incredibly entertaining. It’s always fun to sit around watching the biggest names in Hollywood break down on a big stage in front of the nation, but let’s not kid ourselves into believingone of the biggest marketing ploys in history: that the Academy Awards actually bear anytrue merit.