Lefsetz: Academy Awards / Oscars are for Oldsters

Who cares?

How did America’s go-to awards show – the creme de la creme – lose touch with its audience?

Let’s start with the movies themselves.

Not only is the human touch that built Hollywood purveyed now on television, but the fantasy/superhero flicks that are made to play around the world are not even honored by the Academy. It’s be like having a kid go to community college but attending graduation at Harvard – the disconnect is palpable.

But the media cannot stop trumpeting the story.

You’d think the LA Times was on the studios’ payroll.

This has been the narrative for the past 15 years.

The media controlled by Baby Boomers trumpets old paradigms while the youngsters disconnect, and then the media itself loses control. It happened in politics and it’s happening in culture.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal had a feature on the failure of NASCAR. Its TV ratings have nearly halved – down 45% in a decade.

Wasn’t rednecks driving around in a circle supposed to be the future of sports?

Hey, only half of 18 year-olds today even get a driver’s license, and it won’t be long before no one drives themselves at all. Yet the wankers in Hollywood still think it’s about acquiring status iron and are busy tooting around in their Teslas telling us how green they are.

That’s another disconnect.

Movie stars used to be royalty we paid fealty to.

Now they’re two-dimensional icons we make fun of.

And our country is so divided that when Meryl Streep weighs in on the state of our nation, half the country laughs and refutes her message. How did we get here?

This resembles nothing so much as the youth-quake of the 1960s, wherein parents lost touch with their children who ultimately took over the culture. And that was a good thing.

The late ‘;60s and ’70s were not only a hey day for music, they were the last golden era in film, before it became all about the blockbuster.

But the dirty little secret is there’s not that much money in film anymore.

Quick, name the heads of the studios! Hell, can you even name the studios themselves?

I doubt it.

You used to be able to.

Used to be the studio chiefs were the lords of Tinseltown. Today that honor goes to Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, whose IPO may be overvalued, but is gonna mint more millionaires than the movie business has in eons.

As for the agencies that fed off the studio system…

They too have detached. CAA and WME are deep into sports. There’s just not that much  money in filmed entertainment these days. Not that we’re so sure about the monetization of YouTube, but we do know there’s something fresh on the Google service that’s missing from filmdom.

Remember when going to the movies was de rigueur?

Remember when you had to go in order to function in the culture  – when films were the main topic of conversation amongst your peers?

Now people talk about television – but mostly they talk about themselves, on social media.

As for going to the theatre…

In an on demand culture who wants to show up at an appointed time and overpay to endure 20 minutes of commercials, talking and texting people and crying babies? Certainly not me.

And nobody has seen these flicks.

This is like watching the World Series unaware of the teams. Where’s the drama in that when you’ve got no investment?

No wonder ratings keep sinking.

But people will tune in – to see the dresses – for the spectacle.

Because the truth is in today’s Tower of Babel society we’re looking for unification. We’re looking to connect, be a member of the group. So, if we watch the show we can bitch about it with our friends, be part of the discussion. However this has nothing to do with the movies themselves.

And the show itself is so disconnected from reality that you’ve got to laugh. It’s a mash note to an industry that’s mired in the last century. Sure, there’s nothing like going to see a great movie in a dark theatre, but how many of those are there?

Not many.

The vaunted La La Land has some of the worst buzz on the planet.

Rarely does it get a ringing endorsement from the hoi polloi. They shrug their shoulders and say it’s OK as Hollywood continues to lose credibility. Because when your must-see is not a must see at all, it’s hard to get people out for the next flick.

And then there’s the broken business model.

Movies think they’re different, that they’re immune.

However in an attention economy all the hype is front-loaded for the theatrical release, which few attend. Then months later the Video On Demand and paid streaming releases occur. To tell you the truth, if I could pay and see it right away I’d be much more interested in the movies – I’d check more out. Not only is the hype fresh and the desire stoked, it allows me to be part of the conversation – as stated above, it allows me to belong.

But no, that can’t happen.

You’ve got to save the business model. Theatres must be protected. EVERYTHING should be day-and-date, for the health of the industry itself.

Apple’s Steve Jobs moved music into the 21st Century and then Daniel Ek cemented the modern paradigm whereas movies have no solutions whatsoever. It’s not only about the business model, but maintaining pricing – when the truth is most of these flicks are worthless anyway.

We’re hungry for story – we’re hungry for humanity – which Hollywood once specialized in.

But the studios jumped the track, because there’s not enough money in not only drama, but comedy. Nobody wants bunts, everybody wants home runs. However the end result is more strikeouts.

Come on, look at the grosses on Monday – one flick wins and the rest lose,

This is a business?

So I’m flabbergasted when I see endless stories about the host and the parties and the handicapping.

Yes, I cared…


Used to be I went to a party and filled out my ballot – even in the 1980s.

The last two years I’ve been on the road and missed all but 10 minutes of each Oscars program. And the truth is I didn’t miss a thing. I felt no loss. There’s no FOMO (fear of missing out) with the Oscars.

So, they’ll continue to fade away because the Academy, the whole industry, does not understand the concept of disruption.

Nor Clayton Christensen‘s theory that you’ve got to start with a clean sheet of paper, making little money, then the new enterprise becomes good enough all the cash ends up there.

Which is what YouTube and social media are all about.

Kids don’t want to be actors on the big screen, they want to be stars on the handset.

And they’re very savvy. They know how much PewDiePie makes, and they see him in control of his own destiny as opposed to being bossed around by the man.

There’s your generation gap right there.

Kids don’t care about the Oscars.

And this bodes poorly for the show. Kinda like Cadillac, which was eclipsed by not only Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but Lexus – never mind Lincoln, which can’t convince anybody under 50 to buy one.

Sure, this is about the Oscars, but even more this is about our society!

We want it now at a cheap price. We want to participate. We want to share.

And the movie business delivers on none of those desires.

So when you’re sitting at home watching HBO instead – when you turn on the TV the next day and see all the fawning on the morning shows – don’t think you’ve been left out. It’s they who are out of the picture, they who are out of the loop.

They’re the last bastions of a dying economy, hawking faded products.

The first decade of this century was about hardware, that’s where the technological breakthroughs were evidenced.

Now it’s about software.

What’s happening on your mobile device is much more exciting, much more riveting than anything that’s happening in the movie theatre.

You can see it.

But Hollywood and the media are blind.


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22 Responses to Lefsetz: Academy Awards / Oscars are for Oldsters

  1. e.h. says:

    I can remember a time in the 80’s where you went to the movies almost every week unless it was Feb/Mar or late Aug/early Sep. If you didn’t go see Platoon one week, it was E.T. or Back to the Future the next. The talent behind the movies was so strong that there always at least some entertainment value out of them, even the supposed “bombs”. Ok, there was no entertainment value out of Godfather 3 or Cocoon 2 lol!

    Nowadays nobody grabs the entertainment section of the newspaper to look for the opening times for Superman vs. Godzilla. There’s just too much competition for your entertainment dollar. Heck, you can spend all your Friday night at home watching Youtube videos with Dateline on the TV in the background. If the kids get tired of videogames or snapchatting they might want to go see some stupid Marvel comics movie just to get out of the house..but then again they really don’t want to hitch a ride from the adults and spend 12 bucks for something that’s zero fun.

    I did live in Thailand for awhile back in 2010. Now they do have very nice, clean movie theaters and they do go see these stupid cartoon action flicks in droves. They are very happy to sit through all the splosions and giggle incessantly with their girlfriend/boyfriend etc. This is who the movies are made for nowadays.

    Me? I still have fond memories of Bannister Square 6 on Saturday nights. Blue Ridge East during the Christmas holidays. I saw Gray Lady Down at Independence Center 2, man that was packed for such a crappy movie. Me and my friends snuck in a 5th of Jack into see 48 Hours, we got smashed and the bottle rolled around the floor for about 15 seconds lol. We’d go to the Bro-wood to see movies that had been out awhile like Cujo or 1941.

    Ah the good ole’ days.

    • admin says:

      You hit the nail on the head, EH…

      There just are too many options and they cost a fraction of what it takes to drag to some movieplex, pay out the wazoo for concessions and put up with whatever the folks around you are doing, for better and for worse.

      Plus as Bob notes, it’s no longer a must see experience in order to be plugged into what friends, family and co-workers are talking about.

      Independence Center 2?

      Times indeed have changed

      • E.H. says:

        Yep, I think we all realize we’re not the intended audience anymore. Sure, they’ll still get the bored teenagers and a few other folks but mostly it’s the overseas audience(China! China! China!) they’re after.

        I think it was called Independence Center 2, wasn’t it? It literally was just 2 screens, I saw Animal House there in 1978(I walked there along I-291 from Glendale apartments, never did that again), and the original Terminator there in 1984..it probably was gone by 1995, replaced by a Circuit City or Best Buy.

  2. Paul says:

    My wife and I are in our 50’s and go to the movies a couple times a month, sometimes more. If there’s nothing we want to see playing at the megaplexes, there is always something at the art house venues. There are plenty of quality movies that attract mature audiences that aren’t texting and talking throughout. I can’t remember the last time I heard a crying baby in a theater. We aren’t fans of the superhero genre, but loved movies this year like Fences, Hidden Figures, and Hell or High Water. Others, like Loving, were quality films that played to smaller audiences.

    As far actors espousing their causes, I don’t really care one way or another. Because that type of thing comes at me via television or social media, I just turn it off. Meryl Streep’s views don’t align with mine, nor do I care to hear them. I did like her in August in Osage County, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Florence Foster Jenkins, though.

  3. Harry Balczak says:

    Sorry I can’t get fired up for Superhero movies or preachy tributes to the civil rights era which was what now about 55 years ago? TV is where it is at in entertainment today.

    • e.h. says:

      I can’t agree with you more HB. However, I will go see Blade Runner 2049 at the movies this October.

    • admin says:

      I’m with Harry

      • admin says:

        And let me add that oldsters are often the ones missing out on an entire world of excellent viewing via Netflix, etc.

        Case in point, Jack gets to see everything movie wise for free and when it comes to home entertainment, what little time he has to spare is on things like news and the Tonight show, metc.

        He is completely unaware of an entire world of amazingly excellent viewing opportunities.

        Ditto for Craig, who’s life evolves around sports and maybe a small handful of movies a year if that.

  4. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Everytime one of these Hollywood types opens their yap about politics, they manage to alienate a huge swath of Americans. And they continue to do it over and over. Heck, I’ll never watch another Ben Affleck movie of any sort ever again. His tirade against Sam Harris on Bill Maher’s show was both sickening and sad, and a perfect illustration of everything that is wrong with the regressive left.

    • Jim a.k.a. BWH says:

      None of that really bothers me, Guy. Actors have a platform and an opinion so they use it. American way, right? I separate the actor from his/her politics. I mean, I typically like Tom Cruise and John Travolta movies knowing that both are neck deep in some whack-a-doo cult/religion. I don’t hold their political opinions in any higher esteem than those of some has-been named Chachi.

      It’s just entertainment, not life.

      • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

        Which is totally fine for you to have that view. (Not that you need my validation.) We just differ on that point. They can choose to be sanctimonious a-holes, and use their public exposure to shoot their mouths off. And the only reason they HAVE that platform is their talent for playing make-believe. And honestly, they shouldn’t have that platform just because they are good at pretending. I’m more interested in hearing what the common man thinks. And Hollywood doesn’t represent that.

        • Jim a.k.a. BWH says:

          That surprises me a little, Guy. I’ve known you to be pretty damn Libertarian in your views and take a substantial “live and let live” attitude. Actors and musicians have had a political voice forever. The music and the artists of the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s ushered in enormous social change. Regardless, they are human at their core and have every right to express their political views just as much as the common man. I can take or leave it as I choose. Their talent and financial wherewithal has afforded them that ability, but I’m under no obligation to pay any attention to it.

          • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

            And I generally don’t pay attention to it. But then again, I don’t believe that just immediately “turning the channel” is always prudent either. I enjoy hearing well thought out points of view, whether I agree with them or not. That’s why I’m a fan of guys like Ben Shapiro, Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, Thomas Sowell, & even Bill Maher on some things. All of those guys make lucid arguements. I don’t agree with any of those aforementioned people on every single thing they say. But even on the stuff I don’t agree with them on, I will certainly at least listen because I find them to be intelligent, sentient human beings. But someone acting like a petulant child, hurling ignorant insults at people just makes me lose any and all respect for them. Affleck accomplished that in spades.

      • admin says:

        Jim’s approach is probably the sanest

  5. Shawnster says:

    +1 Jim. I don’t understand why everyone gets so upset these days when a movie star or some singer espouses their political views. Your the adult-don’t listen or turn it off. The need to take everything so personal or boycott every little thing is a little immature for me. Movies are not real-life so why would anyone care what an actor has to say about anything?

  6. I’ve got the amazon fire stick. I was able to download every oscar nominated movie at home. No more cinetopia’s for us. They are dying as are many of the event venues.
    As far as entertainment we only go to concerts and if you’ve seen the lineup for this summer there are some incredible shows. However they are all classic/old acts like Lionel Richie/Mariah Carey and Tom Petty. The music industry is dead and has to roll out the oldies but goldies to fill Sprint.
    From the movie standpoint…with our 60 inch smart tv and our cutting the cord we can get free pay per view, free current in theatre movies, free specials and even can download live concerts 24 hours after they occur. Millions of people are doing the same thing. But the quality of these movies are really poor. To jack up their numbers the studios are putting out weaker movies with fewer big names. The once sure box office hit actors are batting .200 and they don’t have the pulling power of past stars.
    So what’s left for tv? Live sports is keeping them alive. KC Royals are one of the highest ranked tv teams in mlb. Their ratings are close to 13. The Chiefs likewise
    are crashing thru the rankings with their great season. The majority of 25-49 year olds are staying home. Live sports are keeping the stations alive. They can’t depend on Brown and Cruppen or the buy here pay here dealers to keep the
    Radio is sliding as proven with recent ranking where KCFX and KCMO FM (both essentially older stations) now are getting huge rankings.
    Truth is america is becoming a tired and old place. Fox News now has the oldest average viewers averaging 68 years old and is the #1 cable station.
    We decimated the music biz/the entertainment biz/even the lack of big names in comedy are getting killed.
    Too many choices…pricing not applicable to the quality….and our obsession with the new computers that are taking over.
    Now, Hollywood is run by robots. Robots are making the movies and even the winners in the oscars were mediocre at best.
    Our culture that once was thriving has killed itself off. And with Mr. Trump running his own show we are about to become as the head of computer science at Carnegie
    Mellon said “a sad sad country”!
    Now get back to your facebook page and keep posting pics of your dogs and cats!
    Our great empire needs a serious shot of adrenaline real quick!

  7. E.H. says:

    I think it was funny a few years ago when Barbara Walters stopped doing her annual Oscar interviews at the 29 year mark. She said it right when she said “they’re not interesting anymore”.

  8. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    And this year’s oscars has the lowest tv ratings in 9 years. That’s what happens when the vast majority of what you produce sucks ass, and your biggest stars make giant a-holes of themselves by alienating half the country.

    • 1. We only alienated 1/3 of the nation. The rest agreed with us.
      2. When the biggest news is me and Faye Dunaway can’t read english it proves that with age comes the need for lasik or glasses. I had neither. So next year invite kids under 30 to read the winner’s cards. That should take care of having over 100 people on stage at one time with half crying that they didn’t win an oscar after all.
      3. Bring back my friend Billy Crystal. Bring some of the “real actors/actresses” on stage like Adam Sandler/Chevy Chase/Rogan/Paul Rudd/The “Rock”. We know few of them have had any real blockbusters
      but who cares! They funny, fresh and would liven up the show.
      4. I personally think it should be like “America’s Got Talent”! Bring Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan, Demi Lovato, Steven Tyler, and Linda Lampanelli on and let them critique each movie during the show. Think about Simon Cowell giving his opinions on “Moonlight”..probably the worst film to ever win for best picture! Or Linda Lampanelli cutting Kimmel to pieces on live tv!
      We’ll do better next year. See ya in 2018 suckers!

      • ABC and it’s affiliates had a huge night. Their ad revenue intake was the biggest in over 5 years. One of the biggest nights for
        advertisers even though the ratings were off.
        TV is alive and kicking. According to AD AGE, the Oscars are in the top 6 in revenue generating for the network.
        So you may say it’s for oldsters but over 2000 hours in tv time was dedicated to them in the 2 weeks prior and on the night of the show. Still a big time audience of people for the advertisers.
        And besides that it was ENTERTAINING.

    • admin says:

      And yet The Star – for one example – is still wedded to pulling an all nighter in the FYI section to come out with a huge spread on the Oscars and Grammies – complete with two page layouts of what actress was wearing what gown.

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