It’s been a long journey to the 2019 Oscars, with controversy appearing at every step of the way. This year’s Oscars was always going to be tough: the Academy is battling all-time low viewing figures and is still trying to tread lightly over hashtags like #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite.
We should have known it was always going to be a disaster.
The Unpopular Category
Rumors swirling around a troubled 2019 ceremony started in August 2018, when the Academy announced a brand new category: The Best Popular Film. Ironically, it was widely criticized and proved to be an unpopular decision. It raised questions regarding the integrity of those who choose the winning films, and the ‘shallowness’ of films that are usually nominated. Hollywood blockbusters and superhero films don’t usually win Oscars, but surely the billions of dollars they bring in each make them more ‘popular’?
The Most Popular Film category unintentionally highlighted the Academy’s preference for smaller, independent, films – while at the same time disregarding them entirely. By introducing a ‘Most Popular Film’ category, they were admitting that their conventional choices were unpopular among actual fans.
Suddenly, the Academy seemed wildly out of touch with the average cinemagoer. They reversed the decision after widespread outrage.
Kevin Hart Came and Went
The next controversy came and went in only a few days. In December 2018, the Academy announced that comedian Kevin Hart would host the award show. The stand-up comedian and actor had confessed that hosting the Oscars was a ‘dream job’ for him and that it had been on his list for years.
It took two days for the internet mob to take effect and cause him to step down.
After previous homophobic tweets came to light from 2009, fans everywhere demanded that Hart step down from the position. The Academy demanded he
Hart decided to step down and remove himself from the controversy surrounding his hiring. His hosting gig was supposed to lighten up tensions that had risen through the #OscarSoWhite story of 2017 and 2018. The Academy intended to prove it didn’t have a racism problem by having a black host.
It showed the Outrage Mob that it wasn’t racist, but that it was homophobic instead.
Ellen Degeneres urged him to change his mind, but Hart confessed that the moment had gone and that he didn’t want to cause any more trouble. She then faced a backlash from fans who accused her of defending a perceived homophobe.
The Oscars will now run without a host for the second time in its 90-year history.
Soon after, it became apparent that the hosting gig had become ‘the worst job in Hollywood’. Rumors began to start that the Academy was intimidating other celebrities, urging them not to appear at other ceremonies. Of course, the Academy vehemently denies this and promises a ‘phenomenal’ line-up of presenters. It is unsure who will appear.
The third and final controversy to hit the Oscars before its actual broadcast was the runtime. A few days ago, news broke that it would not televise some of the awards. In order to keep the broadcast under three hours, it announced that they would not show the Oscars for make-up and hairstyling, live-action short, editing and cinematography.
Of course, this angered the group of film fans who want to know these awards. The very people who would sit through a 3+ hour ceremony are the very people whose passion is film and cinema. The Academy was hurting its biggest fanbase just to appease wider audiences.
The idea was quickly scrapped after 100 members signed an open letter opposing the decision. It will now broadcast all original categories.
So what now? We’ve only just touched upon some of the problems the Academy had in organizing the evening – none of these even touch the rampant sexual assault claims
It’s unclear how the evening itself will go. But one thing is for certain: after almost a year of problems, we’re definitely ready for the Oscars.