The Problem with the Oscars (And How to Fix Them)
Gold is historically the metal of obscene wealth and the highest class (at least in Western society). It would come as no surprise that some of the most prestigious awards for the most prestigious actors, actresses, and artists are absolutely covered in that yellow and shiny sheen. Although, nowadays, gold is seen as the prime suspect in corruption, both economically and prestige-wise. The Academy Awards started in 1928 and inspired countless golden statuettes to be given to various people, but that’s what the Academy wants you to think.
The Academy Awards did start in 1928, but it was started by the largest film organization at the time. MGM, and its founder, Louis B. Mayer. In the previous year, the silent film industry was in decline, and that decline was more like a cliff. A lot of actors and actresses, producers, musicians, and directors were losing their jobs rapidly. When an industry gets in trouble and a copious amount of jobs are in trouble, American workers do what American companies hate; they unionize and strike. To stop this, Louis B. Mayer and a close-knit group of influential industry insiders created the annual Academy Awards. These awards successfully stopped workers from striking, gave MGM studios legendary levels of prestige, and enforced the Academy’s strict curriculum onto the film industry until the current day.
But before we can talk about the bad about the Oscars, we need to talk about how the Academy chooses its nominees and winners. There are around ten thousand members in the Academy that are split into seventeen branches, but they’re not all directors, actors, scriptwriters, or any other various creatives. Sometimes to most of the time, it’s business insiders (such as executives, marketers, public relations professionals, etc.). Nominees are chosen usually by popularity, which is usually dominated by films that can throw the best parties, give the best gifts, and know the most insiders. Then they vote through just a direct democracy, except for Best Picture which uses ranked-choice voting (which is why the Best Picture winner is usually the least likely choice).
All this adds up to nearly a century full of corruption, racism, homophobia, and elitism in the Academy. African American, Asian, and gay creatives have been getting snubbed out of the spotlight for nearly one hundred years, and most of America has been relatively blind towards it up until the last decade. You might remember The #OscarsSoWhite movement that happened in 2016 and 2017 that led to the Academy becoming self-aware for the first time and trying to add more diversity (somewhat floundering in the process). This isn’t a solely Oscars-related problem; the Golden Globes was discovered to have a council of eighty-seven members who were all white.
To be completely honest and fair, I loved the 95th Academy Awards Ceremony. I think all the people and films that should’ve won did win fairly; it was slay. Let’s all hope that for all Oscars from now on, but if this article doesn’t age horribly within a year’s time, let us discuss how we can stop the Oscars from being terrible.
First, make the process of choosing movies more well-known. The Academy should teach people how movies are chosen to be a nominee, how voters are chosen, who’s the voters this year, etc. Next, make the voters more and less exclusive. The voters should be exclusively creatives who know specifically about what they are voting about (i.e. editors should vote for best editing), but also expand the voting pool internationally and to all peoples, not just business insiders. Finally, there should be terms for voters. The same person shouldn’t be able to vote every time there’s an Oscars; the Academy should at least have a cycle of diverse and talented people so we don’t have the same people deciding the same category every year.
With these improvements, hopefully, corruption and any other issues will stop in the future Oscars. Or maybe they don’t! I don’t know; I’m just a random teenager who really likes movies and music and thinks there should be change. Anyway, I have a lot of hope for the future of films, tv shows, music, and art in general all over the world, and I believe that the Oscars and other award shows will reflect the ever-changing and ever-entertaining world.