I was looking through Twitter and it appears that the Academy Awards were on the other night. Can someone confirm whether or not that's true? Has Snopes looked into that rumor?
Apparently, I was not the only flyover America person (I am not teaching in New York City at the moment) who missed this barometer of trends in American life, humor, politics and virtue.
Besides, I saw very few of this year's films -- again. When it's movie night at my house, we tend to curl up and watch classics like this, this, this or even a modern film like this or maybe even this. Then again, there's always time to visit the doctor.
Anyway, the Oscars were not a big hit there and everyone wants to talk about why. Here are the basics from The Hollywood Reporter:
A comparatively uneventful Oscar telecast led the way on TV Sunday night -- though updated numbers have the telecast somewhat predictably stumbling to an all-time low.
The kudocast, nearly four hours long, stumbled 19 percent from the previous year to 26.5 million viewers. That's easily the least-watched Oscars in history, trailing 2008 by more than 5 million.
When it comes to this "why" question, GetReligion readers will be stunned to know that this was all about politics and, especially, President You Know Who. Thus, the Washington Post opened it's Oscars ratings wreck story like this:
The 90th Academy Awards show was two things: an evening of pointed political statements and a telecast with record-low Oscars viewership. And many on the right have been quick to claim that those things went hand in hand, though the critic-in-chief blamed a lack of star power. ...
The dismal ratings for the ABC broadcast were a hot topic on Fox News, discussed at the top of the hour on both Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s evening shows Monday, and again on Tuesday’s edition of “Fox & Friends.”
Now, whether the Post team intended to or not, this same report -- toward the end -- included some interesting voices that hinted that morality, culture and maybe even religion played a role in this story. Hold that thought.
As always, analysis of an Oscars rite has to include the words of the host -- activist-humorist Jimmy Kimmel in this case. In the #MeToo era, Kimmel is an interesting choice, unless I have missed signs of repentance for his Man Show past.
Most of Kimmel's comments were "political," of course. However, it isn't hard to see religion content in a quip such as this, aimed at the evangelical/Catholic vice president:
“We don’t make movies like ‘Call Me by Your Name’ for money. … We make them to upset Mike Pence,” Kimmel also said, referring to the same-sex romance film nominated for best picture.
Of course, there were questions raised about the provocative gap in the ages of the movie's lovers, as well as their genders, but never mind.
However, toward the end of this story/analysis there were some interesting voices from organizations that the Post may have seen as political, but it is possible to see moral, cultural and religious content here as well. For example:
Brian S. Brown, president of the socially conservative National Organization for Marriage, called the Oscars a “bizarre presentation” that made “people who buy movie tickets and finance the lavish lifestyles of the left’s rich and pampered” feel marginalized.
[Best Actress winner Frances] McDormand, he said, rambled “incoherently” and looked “homeless.”
“Then, at what could still have been a moment with some drama, instead of calling on the women to keep the #MeToo movement going, McDormand said that women need their projects to be financed. Huh? This of course was touted by the left as an amazing moment,” Brown said in a statement, referring to the movement in which millions have shared stories of sexual harassment and abuse with the hashtag #MeToo.
I watched the McDormand comments and I didn't see any incoherent behavior, only the kind of improvised commentary that is typical of these events. What is interesting is that Brown seemed to go out of his way to call for Hollywood pros to keep talking about #MeToo issues. Also note that the Post accurately called his organization "socially conservative."
This brings me to my main point: Did anyone think to seek out comments from moral, cultural and religious conservatives who are critical of Hollywood AND President Trump, often for very similar reasons?
Obviously, many Trump fans tuned out the Oscars this year. But would that explain the whole ratings slide? What about Catholics, Protestants and others who see Trump as a sign of decline in cultural norms, as well as Hollywood?
Note also this source in the Post story -- another good call that underlined a moment in the telecast that was certainly bigger than mere politics.
Lila Rose, the founder and president of the antiabortion group Live Action, took to Twitter to condemn how Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was honored on stage during a performance of “Stand Up for Something,” from the film “Marshall,” which was nominated for best original song.
“She has presided over the deaths of 3.8 million children. Thousands were old enough to survive outside the womb. All were precious,” she wrote. “Such an incredible, brutal shame.”
I would have loved to have seen a line or two of Oscars commentary from, oh, a Catholic liberal such as Father James Martin or a conservative such as Father Dwight Longenecker. Or how about the brilliant Catholic film critic Deacon Steven Greydanus?
As your GetReligionistas keep noting, the Post has a talented and experienced religion-desk team. Perhaps one of these reporters could have been asked to make a few calls?
FIRST IMAGE: Screen shot of abortion-rights heroine Cecile Richards on the red carpet at 2018 Academy Awards.