By Keaton Beltmann, Current Staff
For most movie lovers, the Oscars are appointment television. But for most teenagers, the Oscars don’t mean a thing.
Although the Academy Awards were a ratings giant for generations, viewership has cratered in recent years. Last year’s ceremony managed to outperform the 2021 telecast by 73% while still ranking as the second-worst performance in the entire history of the Oscars. There are many reasons why the Oscars have lost their cultural influence, including an inability to compete with the Internet and digital entertainment options. A primary factor, though, is that the Oscars have failed to capture the interest of today’s youngest movie watchers.
This year’s Academy Awards will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Here are five ways to fix the Oscars so that high schoolers might want to tune in.
One thing that could improve the viewing of the show would be to begin earlier. Starting in 1999, the ceremony has always taken place on a Sunday, usually at 7:30 p.m. CST. (In 2018, the start time moved up thirty minutes.) This means the programming will not only run late into the evening, but it is also on a school night, which means most students who stay up to watch the whole show will likely be tired the following morning. Sometimes the show runs past 11 p.m. There are two fixes. First, start the show an hour earlier. Second, keep things moving!
Keep It Short
Another way to prevent the programming from going late into the night would be to shorten it. In 2002, the show lasted four hours and 23 minutes. By contrast, the 1929 ceremony (the first Oscars) only lasted 15 minutes. This proves that the show doesn’t have to be overblown. One way to avoid this is to remove buffers between categories. They could also shorten speeches and let winners, once backstage, film a full speech that would be officially released post-broadcast.
Livestream on Twitch
This year the Academy was smart to partner with Letterboxd, a popular social media site that lets users log, review and discuss movies, to create exclusive digital content. Another thing that could capture a young audience is streaming the ceremony on Twitch, the popular livestreaming service. Many teenagers use Twitch as a media platform, much more than traditional outlets. The Oscars could certainly capitalize on this opportunity by entering this new market. Currently, the Oscars will only appear on ABC and its apps, so the chances of increased viewership with a Twitch option are very likely.
Create a New ‘Hall of Fame’ Segment
All viewers, including teens, enjoy a representation of their once-favorite media. A “Hall of Fame” segment could be added in order to include this. The Academy could induct films that have stood the test of time in both popularity and success. These are movies that were influential and that captured our young minds. Movies such as the original “Avatar” and “Iron Man” could be included, as they are both appealing to teenagers and were influential. This segment could be presented as any other category, included during the presentation or afterwards, so viewers could stick around if they wanted to see it.
Book Youth-Oriented Presenters
The Oscars have a tendency to have presenters that our parents know and like. While these old-school stars deserve inclusion, the Oscars could name more presenters that appeal to more youthful generations. Right now teens really like “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” so maybe the Academy should bring in John Mulaney, who voiced Jack Horner in the movie. Even better? They should let Mulaney perform in character while an animated Jack Horner comes onto the stage to announce the winner in the Best Animated Short Film category. Too weird? Not at all. The Academy has a long tradition of bringing cartoon characters into the ceremony.
West Bend East High School sophomore Dakota Gunnare says that Mulaney will appeal to more people than just kids.
“People think John Mulaney is really funny,” Gunnare said.
(Top image: The Oscar statue, used with permission via Wikimedia Commons.)