By McKenna Seegmiller
On February 22, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced that eight categories in the 94th Oscars Broadcast will not be announced live. This change comes as a result of declining ratings and a desperate attempt to wrangle more viewers. This is not the first time the Academy has attempted this. In 2019, they announced that various categories would be awarded during the show’s commercial breaks. However, they did not follow through with this plan after facing backlash from creatives who felt their contributions were taken for granted.
The following categories will announce the winners off-air before the telecast: Documentary (Short Subject), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action), and Sound.
In a letter to the Academy’s members, Academy President David Rubin wrote, “All the nominees in ALL awards categories will be identified on air and ALL winners’ acceptance speeches will be featured on the live broadcast.”
Of course, inserting the entire segment would render the change useless, which is why the speeches by the winners will be edited to only include the highlights in the broadcast. Arguably, one of the best parts about these awards shows is the raw excitement of the winners as they realize, in that moment, that their hard work did not go unnoticed and unappreciated. The news that their moment will not be featured live presents the idea that their category is less significant and that their craft contributes less to the success of a movie.
The slight is made even more apparent as the Academy announces a new Fan Favorite category in which Twitter users can vote for their favorite movie of 2021. This category will be aired live despite the already existing Best Picture category and the exclusion of eight other unique categories.
The excluded categories are just as important to the films as actors and directors. When you think of the Pixar movie Up, do you think of “Married Life”, the iconic score cue? The composer, Michael Giacchino won the award for Best Music (Original Score) at the 2010 Oscars. Can you imagine Black Panther without the grandiose and culturally rich design of Wakanda? Hannah Beachler won Best Production Design for her work on Black Panther in 2018.
Even creatives on television shows have displayed a deliberate consideration of the story when they use their craft, one example being Donni Davy, the makeup designer on the HBO hit “Euphoria.” Davy has multiple Instagram posts, sharing how makeup choices reflect the arcs of various characters.
The disregard toward the already under-appreciated hard work behind the scenes shows that the Academy cares more about its ratings and its reach than the point of the Oscars at all, which is to give credit to all components of a film, and all the hard work that goes into its success.
Hollywood is not the only place in which we see a lack of credit to the unsung heroes of our favorite media; Broadway is guilty of this as well.
At the end of 2021, almost 10 different Broadway productions had to shut down and cancel performances, leading to many questions directed at the Broadway League. As the national trade association for the Broadway industry, the Broadway League is responsible for securing and strengthening Broadway theatre’s economic and social status as live entertainment. Thus, they are tasked with tackling questions about the fate of live theatre amid a global pandemic and how they intend to keep the industry safe during this time.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter about the varying ways shows have faced cancellations and rescheduled performances, the Broadway League President, Charlotte St. Martin claimed that “newer shows maybe have understudies that aren’t as efficient in delivering the role as the lead is. Some of the older shows have more experienced understudies and more experienced swings.”
A swing, in theatre, is a member of the company who understudies several ensemble roles. They are responsible for knowing the vocal harmonies, choreography, staging, and lines for each role. Sometimes, they do not find out they are going on until very shortly before the start of the show. You can see how much dedication and talent that swings possess, along with the pressure they face. You can also see how St. Martin’s comment was a slap in the face to such hardworking performers.
Swings often know the shows most intimately, and they keep the show going by stepping up when the leading actors cannot. Claiming that the newer swings cannot compare to those that have been in the industry is especially limiting because they would not have been hired if they could not handle the immense responsibility of being a swing.
St. Martin’s statement shows a lack of understanding of the various crucial roles within theatre and the importance of each and every aspect. While she has issued an apology regarding that statement, it should be the responsibility of the President of the Broadway League to intimately understand theatre and its inner workings.
These are only two instances in which those at the top of the entertainment industry fail to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the already under-appreciated. Those who control the media that we consume need to have a firm understanding and appreciation of every aspect of the industry they work in. This is not only to make everyone feel appreciated but also for the ability to make informed decisions about these industries. The show must go on, but at what cost?
Featured Image (At the top of this article): Twenty-four Oscars are presented at the annual ceremony. (PHOTO CREDIT: Pixabay)