The Show, The Slap and the Big Shrug
Analyzing the Oscars after a poor night's sleep
by Richard Rushfield
The tragic thing was that until The Moment, I was actually enjoying the Oscars of 2022. I mean, enjoying is not quite the term you use for slogging to the end of three and a half hours of one of these things. But let's say, compared to years past there was a certain carnivale atmosphere that I found a pleasant vibe shift from Oscars of yore.
When the moment came however, and as it sank in, it wasn't just it took you out of the flow of things, it was a jolt, like realizing you'd been laughing a little too hard and wondering what was in this fruit punch you'd been putting away all night; followed by the cold sweats that break out with the thought that many of the amusing antic flutterings of the night may have been a show thrashing in the death throes.
There were some very good things about the night, along with some very very bad. In the end the good things may fall in the category of — too little, too late. While the bad things may be more, signs that this patient isn't coming off the operating table.
Let's go through it all, if we may, getting up to the big moment. So let's start with a quick recap of the problems that brought us here in the first place:
An ancient format.
The collapse of mid-budget grown-up films.
The Academy's preference for films largely unseen by the public.
An aging audience.
Confusion over theatrical vs. streaming vis à vis “what is a film?”
The Academy's ability to put itself and the show at the crosshairs of every social dispute to come along.
An endless, tiresome seven-month campaign season fueled by an awards industrial complex choking every ounce of fun and spontaneity out of the sector.
Suffocating pomposity related to all of the above.
Does that get at the basics?
So let's run through the show and see how it addressed these problems, including...The Slap itself.
From the very first segment, there were definite rays of hope that this was going to be the show that finally broke the stranglehold of the format, and could finally have a little fun with itself.