In Hollywood lingo, Sunday night’s Academy Awards telecast bombed, attracting the fewest viewers in the show’s history.
According to Nielsen, just under 10 million people tuned in – a dramatic drop from last year when 23.6 million viewers watched, another record-low performance.
To be fair, there are all kinds of reasonable and even rationale explanations to account for the dramatic drop in viewership – from the pandemic to the fact that fewer people were familiar with the movies under consideration given the subjects and limited screens showing them. Additionally, many have been turned off by the “woke” harangues that are now regular features of the program.
Yet, the abysmal ratings reflect, I think, something more obvious and substantive:
For many decades now, the average person has grown weary of the whole self-absorbed Hollywood scene and a flailing industry that is increasingly antagonistic toward America’s founding principles and mores.
In other words, the general sense is that the entertainment world doesn’t care about the average person and their beliefs – and so the average person increasingly doesn’t care about the industry either.
The Academy Awards ceremony, first held in May of 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, has long featured the famed golden statuette – an iconic symbol of creative success. Interestingly, though, the original trophy was a knight depicted above a reel of film – admirably fighting for the newly emerging silver screen medium.
Over time, the knight became a mere golden man, but continued holding a sword – a nod to tradition and the noble ideal of defense.
Yet, the sword meant to defend now seems more likely to slice and pierce the virtue and values the industry once regularly celebrated.
A knight’s code of conduct featured courage, sacrifice, honor and courtesy, to name just a few characteristics – attributes that seem increasingly foreign in today’s Hollywood’s scripts and culture.
If Hollywood wants to reverse the downward trajectory of its award shows, it’ll stop creating content that doesn’t resonate or that conflicts with the average viewer’s sensibilities.
It won’t be easy.
When filmmaker Tyler Perry accepted an award last night, he took the opportunity to urge those watching to “refuse blanket judgment” when it comes to individuals and cultural entities.
“I refuse to hate someone because they’re a police officer,” he stated.
With that, the applause suddenly stopped.
But applause (or lack thereof) in a Hollywood hall doesn’t always correlate with middle American convictions. It’s high time for those on the coasts to emerge from their bubbles and actually listen to those of us in between.
Christian filmmakers deserve credit for courageously wading into the industry’s turbulent waters, and in increasingly high numbers of late. While few may ever receive an Academy Award for their faith-based projects, they’re nevertheless making a difference by telling good, uplifting and inspirational stories.
Instead of just awarding golden statues for best picture and best actor and actress, along with trophies for costumes and musical scores, maybe the Academy should consider adding categories that include the characteristics and attributes that actually matter most in society – virtues and values like duty, honor, kindness and civility.
“The sword glitters not because the swordsman set out to make it glitter,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “but because he is fighting for his life and therefore moving it very quickly.”
It’s high time for Hollywood to begin again using the swords of its golden men for good.
Photo from Valeriya Zankovych / Shutterstock.com