Change is coming to the Academy Awards, it was announced on the Oscar's official Twitter page. A new category is being designed to honor "outstanding achievement in popular film".
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also revealed in a statement sent out to its members that the live broadcast would be shortened to 3-hours in length, with certain award categories (unknown as of yet) being announced during ad breaks. "To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast."
With the eligibility requirements and other key details for the new category to be forthcoming, there has been heavy criticism for the move. It has been described as being ham-fisted at best and discriminatory at worst. The decision has been dubbed insulting as being popular has never before been seen as an artistic achievement.
The message seems to suggest that a popular product can't be high art, or that a high-quality product can't be popular, is insulting. And as such, many feel that’s what the Oscars do every year. This also solidifies the feeling among producers who worry that should their film become a blockbuster, it may ruin their artistic credibility.
With this year's edition of the Academy Awards being the lowest-rated telecast on record, the board attempted the bridge the widening gap between films people want to see and the films the academy wants to reward.
Dubbed the "Popcorn Oscar", the films likely make up the list of nominees for this category are bound to be predicted based on their worldwide box-office gross. This means blockbusters like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, as well as their fan-favorite stars, will be guaranteed a presence at the ceremony.
Some say, the Oscars’ ratings are tanking for the same reason TV ratings are declining across the board: The outdated monoculture supporting it simply doesn’t exist anymore. Hence, this change doesn’t make Oscar voters seem more in touch, they argue, as all it does is make their elitism that much more clear. The Academy has a long reputation of snubbing hit films whose genres aren’t usually considered Oscar material.
Actor Rob Lowe perhaps best summed up everyone's feelings, "The film business passed away today with the announcement of the ‘popular’ film Oscar,” he tweeted. “It had been in poor health for a number of years. It is survived by sequels, tentpoles, and vertical integration.”
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